Published on March 01, 2018

Constipation: The Ins and Outs

Constipated ColonTo poop or not to poop? Sometimes, there’s no question. Constipation is a common condition that slows everyone down from time to time. A few diet tweaks and regular exercise can help keep things running smoothly.

If you haven’t had a bowel movement in at least three days, or if producing a bowel movement is a struggle, chances are you’re constipated. Feeling bloated, having a sense your bowel isn’t completely empty, or hard or small stools are also common symptoms.

Typically, constipation isn’t a big deal. Most often, it’s caused by a change in routine. Maybe you’re eating more dairy or satisfying that sweet tooth more often than usual. Perhaps you’re feeling a little stressed or you’ve been skipping your daily workout. All of those things can cause a backup. Even though constipation is typically temporary, it can make you uncomfortable until you’re back into your regular routine.

Sweet Relief

Get things moving naturally by:

  • Adding chia seeds to smoothies, cereal, baked goods and other foods (limit intake to 3 Tbsp. per day)
  • Avoiding caffeine, which can dehydrate your body
  • Cutting back on dairy
  • Drinking 6-8 cups of water every day
  • Drinking warm liquids, especially in the morning
  • Eating more fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grain bread and bran.
  • Eating prunes and bran cereal
  • Exercising at least five days each week for about 30 minutes
  • Pooping when you need to

Prevent future episodes by making these changes part your daily routine.

Call the doctor if:

  • Constipation happens suddenly and comes with belly pain or cramping.
  • Lifestyle changes don’t help, or constipation is a new health issue for you.
  • There is blood in your stool.
  • You’ve been constipated for more than 2 weeks.
  • You’re losing weight without making any effort.
  • Your stool has changed significantly.

If constipation becomes a chronic problem, your primary care doctor may refer you to a gastrointestinal specialist.