8 Foods To Eat When You’re Constipated
What to do when you need to "go," but you can't.
Being constipated can feel all-consumingly terrible. After all, going to the bathroom regularly is what your body needs to do. But when you just can’t go, instead of reaching for store-bought laxatives—which can have negative health effects—you might want to consider eating up instead.
It may seem counterintuitive, but here’s what to consume when you’re feeling constipated:
Most importantly, you need to be drinking lots of fluids.
“If you plug yourself with fiber and nothing to flush, it’s like jamming toilet paper in a toilet without water,” says Monica Heather Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N. “A good trick is to divide your weight in pounds—that’s how many ounces you roughly need.” Everyone’s fluid needs are different, as they depend upon age, size, activity, medications and medical conditions, but Auslander suggests you drink water until your urine is light yellow to clear.
2. Ground Flaxseed
“Ground flaxseeds have an uncanny ability to prevent constipation,” says Auslander. “You can mix them into water—but I prefer [putting them] into smoothies and oatmeal.” Flaxseed contains mucilage, a slimy, gum-like compound that soothes and protects the coating along the digestive tract. This helps to add softness to the stool and relieve constipation.
3. Probiotic-Rich Foods
Foods like Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh all contain probiotics, the good type of bacteria that keep your gut healthy and help get rid of waste.
“Because they help create a healthy GI environment, this bacteria helps your GI tract keep things moving along healthfully and keep the rate of motility moving well,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN.
4. Dried Fruit
“In general, the old standby prunes, dried plums, dried pears and dried apricots will generally help pooping by bringing water into your digestive tract and helping things slide through,” says Jessica Setnick, MS, RD, CEDRD. Eating a prune or two can help move things along, but Setnick warns that you should take it easy. “Too much of any of these, and you get diarrhea.”
5. Fruit With Skins
Fruit is filled with fiber, making it helpful for constipation, but you want to make sure you choose fruits with the skin still on.
“You want to make sure you are eating the skins because that is where the majority of the fiber is in fruit,” says Zeitlin. “So with apples, pears, berries and stone fruits, never peel the skin off. Fruits that you peel, like bananas, pineapple, melons, they still have fiber, but not enough to help alleviate constipation.”