Of course, it is more comfortable to poop in the privacy of your home bathroom. However, that can be a problem if you are in the habit of holding it in when you are out and about. The signals can weaken over time when you ignore the need for a bowel movement. When you are constipated, the last thing you need is to poop even less frequently. So, head to the bathroom whenever the urge strikes.
Drink more fluids
When the body lacks enough water to push digested food forward, it leaves your stools dry and hard. It’s no wonder dehydration can cause frequent constipation or make it even worse.
Drinking fluids frequently won’t always cure your constipation, but it does help many. If you aren’t a massive fan of water, ask your physician what other liquids you can try.
Count your fiber
You probably know that consuming more fiber helps to relieve constipation. If you are like most Americans, you likely don’t ingest enough. Adults should consume 20-35 grams daily; tracking your fiber is the best way to hit your target. Look at labels for how many grams of fiber it contains. Set yourself up to be successful and reach for whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Choose high-fiber fruits
Fresh fruits are packed with plenty of healthy nutrients. However, fiber isn’t always one of them. For example, a cup of cantaloupe has very little fiber. Instead, choose from these high-fiber powerhouses:
- Asian pear (large): 9.9 grams
- Dried figs (1 cup): 14.6 grams
- Apple (large): 5.4 grams
- Prunes (1 cup): 12.4 grams
- Raspberries (1 cup): 5.4 grams
Curb your stress
Stress is a lesser-known cause of constipation. It can slow down how rapidly food moves through your bowel. Try deep breathing, relaxation with mental imagery, or meditation for proven relaxation methods.
Some foods can make you more likely to get plugged up. The most common culprits are sugary treats, dairy products, and high-fat meats. Go easy on marbled sausages and steaks, ice cream, cheese, cookies, and packaged or frozen meals, which tend to need more fiber.
Lack of physical activity can lead to constipation, especially if you are a senior citizen. Several studies suggest that exercise can help you become more regular if you’re already constipated while being a couch potato makes you more likely to get it. Given all the benefits of being physically active, this is one of the best habits you can adopt.
Put your feet up
If you haven’t ever tried to poop with your feet on a stepstool — or a special toilet stool — try it. These types of stools shift your posture to make it easier to eliminate. Some experts recommend it for older adults who have had constipation long-term. A small study of healthy young adults found a toilet stool eased straining and allowed bowels to be emptied more completely.
Make smart swaps
Loading up on fiber does not have to be unappetizing. Making a few changes to your habits can make a big difference—snack on a handful of almonds (3.3 fiber grams) instead of crackers (0.6 grams). Instead of sprinkling diced cheese (0 grams), sprinkle a cup of beans (around 13 grams of fiber) to pasta salads.
Rethink your vegetables
While some vegetables are high in vitamins but low in fiber. Spinach has less than 1 gram per cup of raw leaves. These are packed with much more:
- Carrots (1 cup, cooked from frozen): 4.8 grams
- Sun-dried tomatoes (1/2 cup): 3.3 grams
- Broccoli (1 cup, cooked): 5.2 grams
- Peas (1/2 cup, cooked from frozen): 4.4 grams
- Baked potato with skin: 4.6 grams
Laxatives: Bad or good?
Laxatives can get bowels that are backed up and moving again quickly. So, you may find yourself reaching for them for your chronic constipation. However, using them too often could train your body to rely on them for bowel movements. Additionally, some laxatives interfere with some medications. Ask your physician if laxatives are a good option for you.
Did you know you might be able to train yourself to poop at the same time each day? Try to do it around 20-30 minutes after eating a meal. That is when wave-like motions begin in your intestines to push waste and food through. For many, using this regular routine can lead to relief.
Are you still stuck? Add something stimulating your bowels, like sipping warm liquid in the a.m.
When should you call a doctor?
Even if you are managing your constant constipation, it’s sometimes a good idea to see your doctor. They can rule out health issues, among other things. Call your doctor if you have constipation:
- Seems severe
- Is new
- Lasts over three weeks
- Comes with a fever, weight loss, weakness, or additional health concerns