Go Away, Gallstones!

Rich meals can do more than make you sleepy and boost calorie and fat intake.

In restaurants and at home, rich, delicious dishes that are high in fat and calories are abundant. Although you may think it’s OK to let loose and indulge a few times a year, your digestive system may beg to differ, especially if you are at risk for gallstones.

Large meals can bring on a gallstone attack, which occurs when gallstones block a bile duct. Someone suffering a gallstone attack might experience severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting.

What is a Gallstone?

Made by the gallbladder, gallstones are tough deposits of cholesterol or bile that can range in size from a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball. Some people have gallstones and never know it, but if the stones get large enough, they can become very painful.

The most at-risk populations for gallstones include:

  • Women
  • Older adults
  • People of Mexican-American or Native American descent
  • People with a family history of gallstones
  • Those with a chronic disease that affects the biliary tract

Both overweight individuals and people who have experienced rapid weight loss can also develop gallstones.

Avoiding Gallstones

A high-calorie, low-fiber diet eaten year-round can contribute to gallstone formation, but you can avoid a gallstone attack by modifying your indulgences:

  • Make sure to get adequate fiber, which is often lacking in rich holiday foods. Load up on vegetables (those that aren’t swimming in cream-based sauces), beans and whole grains.
  • Go easy on the sugary desserts.
  • Cook your meals with healthy fats, such as olive oil, instead of butter.

 

Sources:

eapsa.org, niddk.nih.gov, familydoctor.org, facs.org, medlineplus.gov, absurgery.org, columbiasurgery.org, caloriecontrol.org