Food & Recipes

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:

1. Water

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.

water photo
Getty Images | Matt Cardy

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.

flaxseed photo
Flickr | AlishaV

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.

greek yogurt photo
Flickr | nina.jsc

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.”

prunes photo
Flickr | Son of Groucho

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.”

apple photo
Flickr | Carriagehouse2011

 6. Fiber-Rich Vegetables

Vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, beets and broccoli are all high in fiber, which helps to move things along.

Eat a variety of vegetables throughout the day, either as a salad, scrambled into your eggs, sautéed, stir fried or straight up raw,” says Zeitlin. “Avoid drinking them, because the blending process reduces the fiber content. Make sure to chew to really alleviate constipation.”

vegetables photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

7. Whole Grains

“Whole grains are another great source of fiber, helping to push things along and prevent constipation,” says Zeitlin. “Alternatively, white bread products can sometimes contribute to constipation and bloat because of the sugar and sodium in them. Whole grains are less processed and healthier for you and your digestive tract.”

oatmeal photo
Getty Images | Neilson Barnard

8. Healthy Fats

“When it comes to constipation, some lubrication can definitely help move things through your system,” says Zeitlin. “Make sure you are eating nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil or fatty fish like salmon to get a good dose of heart-healthy fats to slide things along.”

avocado photo
Flickr | slgckgc

What are your tricks for staying regular?