Why am I constipated?
Anything from stress to being pregnant to not getting enough fluids, fibre or exercise can all affect your bowel movements. Learn more.
Find out more
Making simple changes to your lifestyle habits is the first step for most people. But start small getting overwhelmed trying to make too many changes at once can lead to stress-induced constipation. Try one or two changes at a time. That way you can see what works to get you back on track.
Here are proven strategies for constipation relief:
Fibre adds bulk to your stools, making them easier to pass. Experts recommend that Canadian women should get 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams. Try to add a fibre-rich food to every meal. Simply adding salads and eating fruit for dessert could help move things along.
Whatever you choose, increase your intake gradually. Getting too much fibre too soon can cause stomach bloating and even make your constipation worse.
Also keep in mind that fibre absorbs more water in your gut. So be sure to increase your fluid intake as well.
Skipping breakfast isn’t a good idea if you’re prone to constipation. Eating literally “wakes up” your bowels after a night of sleep to get things moving.
This is an ingredient found in some fruits which has a natural laxative effect. Prunes are one of the best sources, either dried or stewed. However they can work quickly, so don’t overdo it.
Smoothies are an easy, delicious way to get you and your bowels going in the morning. Add fibre-rich berries, and even bran cereal for constipation relief.
Ideally your bowel movements should move according to your body’s internal clock. So that means getting into a routine and setting aside regular times for a bowel movement. Aim for after breakfast or dinner and try to spend undisturbed time on the toilet.
Ignoring the call of nature because you’re too busy or don’t like using public toilets can eventually weaken your body’s “to go” signals. If you have the urge, try to go as soon as possible. Being prepared with anti-bacterial wipes can help when you have to go away from home.
Plain water is best for constipation relief, but juices and water-rich foods like some fruits and vegetables help too. Tea and coffee are good as well, although they can be dehydrating if you drink too much.
Getting your body moving can get your bowels moving too. It could be as simple as taking a half-hour walk three times a week.
Everyone goes through stressful periods, which can affect our digestive systems. Try to identify the cause(s) so you can eliminate or reduce the stressor. Simply taking the time to relax can help. Unwind in a bubble bath, listen to your favourite music, or take up yoga. Whatever calms you down and makes you feel better. Talking over your problems with a trusted close friend or family member can help too. However, if you're having problems with prolonged stress, anxiety or depression, see your doctor.
Straining to have a bowel movement can cause swelling in the veins in and around your anus. These are called hemorrhoids or piles. Because they can make passing stools painful, they can put you off going to the bathroom.
Fortunately most cases can be treated with over-the- counter remedies from a pharmacy. Since there are a variety of hemorrhoid treatment products, ask your pharmacist what’s best for you. Admittedly you might feel embarrassed, but don’t let that get in the way of finding the product that’s right for you. Always take the medication as directed on the package.