When it comes to digestion, are you stuck in the slow lane? Dealing with constipation can be a frustrating experience, leaving you with questions and seeking answers. I’ve helped hundreds of clients with their digestive issues, so I understand the challenges and your search for practical answers.
This week I’m going to address the most frequently asked questions about constipation. Whether you’re unsure about the causes of constipation, looking for constipation relief, or simply seeking a better understanding of your digestive woes, you’re in the right place. Join me as we navigate through the winding roads of constipation and shed light on the mysteries of your gut.
You’re not crazy. Yes, fiber is important when it comes to staying regular. But not all fiber supplements are created equal. And sometimes fiber supplements — even the ones your doctor recommends — can cause additional digestive symptoms like bloating and discomfort.
Many fiber supplements are high in FODMAPs. These short-chain carbohydrates are great sources of fiber. But for many people with digestive issues like IBS or SIBO, FODMAPs can cause additional problems.
If your fiber supplement is making you feel bad, consider a low FODMAP variety like psyllium or guar fiber. And if you don’t have a SIBO or IBS diagnosis, but you discover you do better on FODMAP-free fiber supplements, you may want to consider reaching out to a practitioner who works with these conditions. They are often under or misdiagnosed. So it might be worth getting evaluated. You can book a call with me here if you’d like to talk this through.
And remember, when you’re starting to add more fiber to your diet, start low and go slow. Too much fiber too quickly can cause discomfort.
Constipation FAQ #2: I started taking daily Miralax for constipation, but now I can’t go without it.
Many, MANY people are on Miralax daily. In fact, many GI doctors recommend this common bandaid method to improve constipation. And yes, it can help. Osmotic laxatives like Miralax draw water into the colon and soften the stool. So you probably get some relief when you use it.
But a temporary solution like laxatives doesn’t solve the underlying problem that’s causing your constipation in the first place. And when you go off your laxative, you may end up with rebound soft stools. And you might end up “chasing” the constipation, rather than getting ahead of it and making a daily BM part of your lifestyle.
The key here is two-fold. First, you need to find a regimen that will promote a daily BM. If you’re worried about whether or not you’re going to ?, it can make matters worse. Stress and digestive function are closely connected.
Secondly, you need to get to the bottom (pun intentional) of your underlying issues so you can get ahead of your constipation and address it from its cause.
A squatty potty is a foot stool designed to sit inconspicuously at the base of your toilet. When it’s time for a BM, you slide the stool out and set your feet on it. And yes, it can help.
I’m all for non-invasive solutions to digestive problems. And raising your feet off the floor while you poop is an easy and inexpensive way to improve your bowel movements.
I’m not sure who decided we should all poop sitting down with our thighs parallel to the ground. This is actually a lousy position for having a bowel movement. Ideally, you want your hips below your knees when you have a BM. This puts your body in better alignment and opens up the passageway the ? travels on its way out.
Squatting is the best position. But, it’s not a realistic option for most of us. So a squatty potty or other bathroom stool gives you a comfortable shortcut. You just slide the stool out so you can put your feet on it. This should raise your knees slightly, putting your body in a better position for a successful trip to the toilet.
Squatty potty type stools are an inexpensive and easy step you can take to improve your BMs. So ☆☆☆☆☆ — highly recommend.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this one. Our bodies are all different, and healthy elimination patterns can vary. That being said, it may be time to get some help if one of the following apply regularly to you:
? You tend to have less than three bowel movements each week
? Your stools are often hard, dry, or lumpy
? You have stools that are difficult (or even painful) to pass
? Even after a BM, you don’t feel like you got everything out
These are guidelines.
Even if you have a daily BM, you could still be struggling with constipation. So, if you find yourself feeling a bit backed up, regardless of the frequency of your bathroom trips, trust your gut (pun intended) — chances are, you’re dealing with constipation.
Constipation is a drag. And it’s such a relief when it gets better. So the last thing you want is for it to come back and start the cycle of misery all over again.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent constipation:
? Choose whole foods over processed as often as you can. Processed and packaged foods tend to be lower in fiber and full of chemicals and preservatives that can affect your digestive health. Nearly everyone needs to rely on a convenience food here and there. But if you want to keep constipation at bay, try to keep it at a minimum.
? Include plenty of fiber in your diet. Your best bet is to turn to natural sources like fruits and vegetables. But if you’re having trouble getting enough fiber through your food, you can also consider adding a fiber supplement. I recommend guar gum or psyllium. But again, start slow!
? Stay hydrated. Water is important for pretty much every bodily function, including digestion. Keeping hydrated will help you avoid dry, hard stools that are uncomfortable and difficult to pass.
? Include exercise in your weekly routine. You don’t have to flip giant tires or run a marathon. Simple exercises like walking and swimming are great for helping regulate your digestive system. Remember — motion is lotion.
? Deal with your stress. Your brain and your digestive system are closely linked. So avoiding unnecessary stress and dealing with the stress you can’t avoid are important for both physical and mental health. Not sure what to do? Try something simple like deep breathing or spending time in nature.
If you’re not ready to work with a dietitian one-on-one, but you need some help with your digestive issues, I’ve got you covered. I have a free Facebook group just for you! The Healthy Gut Solutions Group is the place for people with IBS, SIBO, and other stomach issues.
You’re not crazy. And you’re not alone. Come join other people who can share your struggles and give you new ideas for solutions. And it’s all run by me, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Gastrointestinal Nutritionist. Whether you’ve got a formal diagnosis of IBS, SIBO, another gut issue, or a combination, we welcome you here!