Finding delicious food to eat when you’re on a restricted diet for gallbladder issues can be difficult. Chinese is one of the most popular takeout cuisines around. Is it still safe to eat Chinese food when you’re dealing with gallbladder problems, or if you’re trying to keep your gallbladder in good working order?
Most Chinese food is not good for gallbladder issues because gallbladder diets should avoid fried food and complex carbohydrates like the sweet sauces used on most Chinese dishes. Some Chinese meals are better for gallbladder issues than others, such as light chicken or vegetable entrees.
Chinese food might be risky business when it comes to gallbladder issues, but knowing which Chinese foods are acceptable and which will cause a gallbladder flare-up can go a long way towards making sure you can still indulge while you keep an eye on your health.
Fried Chinese Food Is Bad for Gallbladders
The major problem with most Chinese food is that many of the dishes in Chinese cuisine—at least those meals that are available in Western restaurants and takeout—are full of fatty oils and fried foods. These dishes are often deep-fried in a wok.
Fatty foods are more difficult for the digestive system to break down, especially after a person’s gallbladder has been removed entirely. Even if someone is only dealing with partial gallbladder dysfunction, too many fatty foods can lead to gallstones. These lumps of hard digestive fluid in the gallbladder are painful and can require surgery. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Not all Chinese dishes are fried, which means that you don’t have to forego Chinese food entirely if you’re dealing with gallbladder problems. But it does mean you’ll need to be much more selective when choosing dishes from the menu.
Avoid Chinese Sauces With Gallbladder Disease
The other issue with Chinese food is that many Chinese dishes are defined by a sweet, sticky sauce, or a creamy sauce like Chinese white sauce. Creamy sauces are high in fat, while sticky sweet sauces such as the kind that covers General Tso’s chicken or Beijing beef are full of complex carbohydrates that can aggravate gallbladder issues.
The kicker for gallbladders when it comes to Chinese food is that several of these dishes are both fried and covered with sweet sauce. This makes them doubly risky when it comes to causing a gallbladder issue.
There are some sauces, such as soy sauce, that can be eaten on a gallbladder diet. But here are a few of the sauces you should avoid in Chinese cuisine if you’re trying to follow a gallbladder-friendly diet (Source: The Spruce Eats):
- Duck sauce
- General Tso’s sauce
- Kung Pao sauce
- Plum sauce
When choosing a Chinese sauce to eat on a gallbladder diet, take a look at how much fat and sugar the sauce has in it. If the sauce is heavy in either ingredient, it’s best avoided. Choose instead spicy or salty sauces such as chili paste or oyster sauce.
Chinese Pasta and Rice Are Bad for Gallbladders
Along with fried foods and sauces, another aspect of Chinese cuisine that can be hard on people with gallbladder problems are the starches. The pasta and white rice used in Chinese food are both poor choices for gallbladder diets. The complex carbohydrates involved in either food type can cause serious digestive problems.
Some Chinese restaurants serve steamed brown rice as a substitute for white rice, and this is a much better side dish for those who have gallbladder issues. Keep in mind that fried rice of either color should be avoided since fried rice is high in fats that can aggravate gallbladder disorders.
Chinese Food to Avoid for Gallbladder Safety
If you want to eat Chinese food while also avoiding a gallbladder attack, there are certain traditional Chinese dishes you would be better off avoiding. While these dishes form the pantheon of favorite Chinese fare for most people, eating these foods can cause someone with gallbladder issues to regret their indulgence later.
Here are some of the most popular Chinese foods that can cause gallbladder problems:
- Crab rangoon
- Barbeque pork ribs
- Fried egg rolls
- Fried rice
- Lo mein
- Sweet and sour chicken
- General Tso’s chicken
- Beijing beef
- Honey/sesame chicken
Even though these are some great dishes, eating them isn’t worth the potential pain and danger involved in developing gallstones or having a gallbladder attack. The chances of developing excruciating pain in the upper right side of the abdomen—or the chance of having to go to surgery—aren’t worth the momentary indulgence of a fatty meal.
It’s also important if you’re eating at a Chinese restaurant or ordering Chinese takeout that you skip drinking a soda with your meal. Sweetened sodas have a detrimental effect on the gallbladder, and they’ve also been associated with gallbladder cancer. (Source: ABC News)
Gallbladder-Friendly Chinese Dishes
If there are a lot of Chinese dishes that aren’t a good pick on a gallbladder diet, does that mean you have to skip Chinese takeout entirely when you’re on a restricted gallbladder diet? No way!
There are plenty of healthy Chinese meals available that are safe for those with gallbladder issues to eat. These dishes tend to be more on the savory side, aren’t deep-fried, and feature leaner cuts of meat such as chicken and fish versus beef or pork.
Here are just a few of the dishes that you can order to protect your gallbladder when you’re ordering from a Chinese menu (Source: Healthline):
- Vegetable egg foo young: Egg foo young is a Chinese egg omelet that is stuffed with either meat, vegetables, or both. Order vegetable egg foo young to get a lean protein meal with high amounts of fiber that won’t irritate the gallbladder.
- Steamed dumplings: While fried dumplings are deep-fried and contain too many fatty oils to be considered safe for gallbladder issues, steamed dumplings are usually filled with lean chicken or pork and the thin pasta shell isn’t substantial enough to cause any problems. Avoid sweet sauces with these.
- Hot and sour soup or egg drop soup: Chinese soups are low in calories as long as you omit the crunchy deep-fried lo mein noodles that are often served as a condiment with these dishes. The other ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, eggs, and bamboo shoots are good for healthy gallbladders.
- Moo goo gai pan: Moo goo gai pan is a light chicken-based dish with stir-fried vegetables that is lower in fat and calories than most Chinese offerings, and doesn’t contain fatty meats or complex starches like lo mein. This makes it a good choice if you’re trying to eat Chinese on a gallbladder diet.
- Chicken and broccoli: This lighter version of traditional beef and broccoli offers a lot of the same flavors without including red meat, which can be problematic for gallbladder issues. The broccoli in this dish also offers up some necessary fiber and vitamins along with lean protein.
When you’re looking over a Chinese menu for a gallbladder-friendly entrée, be sure to avoid any dishes that include fried rice, noodles, thick sweetened sauces, and fatty meats. Looking at vegetarian entrees can help you find a healthy option. While fattier Chinese foods are certainly delicious, they’re also capable of causing painful gallbladder attacks.
Take Care Ordering Chinese With Gallbladder Issues
Ordering Chinese food when you’re trying to protect your gallbladder can be more difficult since you have to avoid many staples of Chinese cuisine like fried foods and sugary sauces. But if you know what kinds of Chinese food to avoid, you should still be able to eat many delicious Chinese dishes. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite!