Constipation is an uncomfortable topic, but it is common. Signs of constipation include not having a bowel movement for more than 3 days, having hard or lumpy stools that are painful to pass, and feeling bloated.Don’t strain your relationship with the toilet! Here are some recommendations to help you avoid feeling stuck and keep ‘number two’ a top priority:
- Stay hydrated. Ensure you get enough fluids throughout the day. Being well hydrated helps keep your bowels moving. Choose water more often - it’s the healthiest choice. Learn about staying hydrated from Kenton’s blog or from Dietitian of Canada’s Guidelines for Drinking Fluids to Stay Hydrated.
- Eat whole grains. They are high in fiber and can help bulk up stools. Grains that are especially beneficial are oat, barley, quinoa, millet, and brown or wild rice. Look for flours that are whole grain and choose products with added bran. Top cereals, soups, and salads with chia seeds and hemp hearts which are all high in fibre. When you increase your fibre intake, make sure you also increase your fluid intake. This helps to keep things moving along inside your body and prevents gas and bloating.
- Focus on your vegetables and fruits. These foods contain fibre that promotes regularity. Follow Canada’s Food Guide for the recommended number of servings for your age and gender. Take our fruit and veggie challenge and eat an extra serving of fruit and an extra serving of vegetable each day. Dried fruits like prunes are also excellent sources of fibre – prunes contain sorbitol, which is a natural ingredient that helps with constipation.
- Get active. By moving your body, you keep things moving along on the inside too. Learn about how to get active and the recommended amount of daily physical activity from Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines.
- Make time. Dedicate time to visit the bathroom at the same time every day. This sets your body into a routine.
Follow these tips and get relief, naturally!
If constipation does not improve after following these tips for several days, if you have intense pain in your belly or rectum, blood in your stool, have unexplained weight loss, or have constipation alternating with diarrhea, talk to your health care provider. If constipation is caused by a medication or a medical condition, increasing fibre intake may not always be helpful, so speak with your healthcare provider. You can also dial 8-1-1, to speak with a Registered Dietitian (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm) or a Registered Nurse (any time and every day of the week).
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