Liquid Diet for a Gallbladder Surgery

The gallbladder is a small organ located to the right of your liver. Its primary role is to collect and concentrate the digestive juice bile that is made by your liver. However, your gallbladder is not an essential organ, and your body can function normally without it. If you are going to have gallbladder surgery, your doctor will likely recommend that you follow a liquid diet prior to your surgery.

Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States, according to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons 1. The need to remove the gallbladder is most often caused by gallstones. These stones sometimes block the flow of bile, causing the gallbladder to swell and become inflamed and infected. The affected gallbladder causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and indigestion. Medication and changes to your diet can help alleviate some of the symptoms. But surgery is usually required for long-term relief.

Purpose of Liquid Diet

Each surgeon follows a different preoperative procedure, and it is important that you follow your doctor's strict instructions for best results. Some surgeons will request that you follow a clear liquid diet prior to your surgery to clear out your colon and limit the amount of residue in your intestines 2. Because removing the gallbladder is abdominal surgery, you want to minimize any potential complications by keeping your intestines as empty as possible. Your doctor will determine how many days prior to your surgery you should start your liquid diet.

Food Choices

The clear liquid diet consists of liquid foods and beverages that are clear, easily digested and leave minimal residue in your gastrointestinal tract 2. Choices include water; clear juices such as apple or cranberry; broth; gelatin; black coffee or tea; fruit ice; clear sodas such as ginger ale; and fruit punch. You are also allowed sweeteners such as sugar or honey on the clear liquid diet 2.


The clear liquid diet is meant to provide hydration and electrolytes while minimizing intestinal residue 2. The diet is very low in calories and protein, and it does not provide adequate amounts of vitamins or minerals. You should only follow a clear liquid diet for a few days, as directed by your doctor 2. It is important that you maintain good nutritional status prior to your surgery to help promote healing and prevent infection. This means that before going on a clear liquid diet, you should follow a balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods such as:

  • lean meats
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low-fat dairy products 2