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5 Foods To Avoid This Holiday Season if You Have Gallbladder Problems

From pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner to gingerbread cookies at a family party, it’s easy to let your healthy diet fall by the wayside during the holiday season. Indulging every now and then won’t wreck your waistline, but if you have gallbladder problems, it might be making your symptoms worse.

Your gallbladder is a nonessential organ that collects and stores bile. Bile is a digestive fluid that helps your body process fats, and if your gallbladder isn’t functioning properly, gallstones can develop.

Many people with gallstones don’t notice symptoms. But for others, gallstones can cause pain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Once symptoms develop, it’s likely that you’ll need your gallbladder removed. 

The good news is that gallbladder surgery is generally very effective in treating your symptoms. Elvira Klause, MD, and our surgical team specialize in gallstones and gallbladder surgery, and we’re here to help you navigate your condition. 

Since your gallbladder aids in digestion, it’s no surprise that the foods you eat influence your gallbladder problems. Read on to find out if your holiday diet could be to blame for your worsening symptoms and what to do about it.

A few common foods that can make gallbladder problems worse include:

Full-fat dairy products

Most dairy products, from cheese to ice cream, are high in fat. Fat is difficult for your body to digest. And if you have gallbladder problems, eating full-fat dairy products can exacerbate your symptoms.

This holiday season, steer clear of cheesy appetizers and that charcuterie board. Avoid adding butter to meals and baked goods, and choose low-fat dairy products when you can. Not all dairy products are foods: Popular holiday beverages like Irish cream and eggnog contain dairy, too.

Processed meats

Processed meats might be convenient, but they’re high in fat. Pepperoni, salami, and other cold-cut deli meats all fall into the category of processed meats. Eating processed meats can increase the severity of your gallbladder symptoms.

Whenever possible, buy raw meat and cook it yourself. Avoid appetizers with cold cuts and pizza with pepperoni and sausage.

Fatty meats

Red meats, like beef, pork, and lamb, are generally high in saturated fat. Holiday dinners often revolve around meaty main courses, but fat can be problematic for people with gallbladder issues.

Instead, choose meats with lower fat levels, like turkey, chicken, and fish. Choose baked turkey at that holiday dinner instead of the ham. At home, prepare meat by grilling or baking it, and don’t use vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying.

Store-bought baked goods

Fiber is an element that’s essential for healthy digestion, but foods made with white flour are notoriously low in fiber. White breads, pasta, and store-bought cakes, pies, and other baked goods often have white flour and low nutritional values.

Along with white flour, many commercially baked foods are high in transfats. Transfats are difficult to digest, and eating a lot of foods with transfats could make your gallbladder problems worse.

To support healthy digestion, choose whole-grain products whenever possible. If you’re baking at home, swap out white flour and fats like butter for healthier alternatives.


The holiday season often brings an abundance of delicious sweets and desserts, from candy canes to gingerbread houses. But desserts are often high in sugar and fat, both of which can make your digestive system work overtime.

Avoid overindulging in pies and cookies to keep your gallbladder function on track. Instead, choose desserts that are lower in fats and oils, such as fruit or sorbet.

Find the right gallbladder treatment for you with our help. Contact us to request an appointment with Dr. Klause.

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