Being backed up totally sucks—especially if you feel bloated, heavy, or more lethargic than usual. Plus, sitting on the toilet trying to get things going for hours can be frustrating, time consuming, and, not to mention, painful.
So, what to do? Well, you might need a laxative, though you should first discuss that option with your doctor if you’ve been constipated for days without any relief. But before you start popping pills, you should probably first take a look at your diet. Turns out, there are certain things you can eat to help you go to the bathroom.
Struggling to cook healthy? We'll help you prep.
You’ll want to drink plenty of water and incorporate foods that are high in fiber, says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD, as that’ll help aid in digestion, stimulate the bowels, and hydrate the body, so you can make looser, healthier stools. Beyond guzzling down water, here are the best foods to eat. Bonus: most of these are also high in water content, which can also bring a bit of extra hydration.
“The fruit with the highest amount of fiber per serving are raspberries! Coming in at 8 grams per cup, they are a great food if you're having tummy trouble,” she says. Plus, they taste great and are super versatile. Eat them plain with some other berries, like blueberries and blackberries, which also have fiber, or add to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, desserts, smoothies, and more.
“Apples contain 4.4 grams of fiber per medium apple, so they’re a great, high-fiber fruit,” says Michalczyk. However, don’t peel the apples before eating them! There’s a reason to keep the skin on—that’s where all that bowel-boosting fiber is. So, nosh on apples with some nut butter, bake them for a naturally sweet dessert, or add them atop salads (those leafy greens will also be good for easing constipation).
“Lentils are a great source of fiber with nearly 16 grams per cup. Keep some in your cupboard and use for easy weeknight meals,” says Michalczyk. You can whip up lentil burgers, add to salads or grain bowls, or enjoy as a side dish with meat or fish. It’s an excellent plant-based protein, too, she says, so keeping some in your pantry is smart for when you’re looking to cut back on meat intake or need something with a long shelf life for instant meals.
“Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are high in fiber (12.5 grams per cup) and super easy to incorporate into your diet in different ways—blend them into hummus, roast them with sea salt for a snack, or simply toss them on a salad,” she says. Much like lentils, chickpeas are great for making you a little gassy (here’s when it’s okay—let it out no matter where you are!) and also have good protein and iron to keep you fuller longer.
Interested in learning more about digestive health?
- The 8 Worst Foods for Digestion
- So You Have SIBO: Here’s How Certain Foods Might Impact Your Symptoms
- 7 Foods That Can Cause Constipation
“If you're chronically constipated, it may be time to bring back oats for breakfast. Oats contain soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which helps with digestion, cholesterol, and more,” she says. Feel free to make overnight oats so you have an instant, on-the-go breakfast the next day (bring a spoon and you’re set). You can also look for cereals that contain oats or make oatmeal for something warm, filling, and delicious that’ll get you pooping in no time.
Chia seeds are all the rage right now—especially since more people are starting to learn about their heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory benefits, thanks to their omega-3 content. Yet, chia seeds also have lots of fiber to improve gut health. “Small but mighty, chia seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. Coming in at around 10 grams per ounce, they are easy to add to yogurt, oatmeal, and in baked goods,” she says.
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