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8 Foods You Should Never Eat When You’re Constipated

Let’s talk about foods to avoid when you’re constipated!

Constipation occurs when you have less than three bowel movements (or poops, more familiarly) per week. As a result, you may experience symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, and feeling gassy.

Studies show that about 16% of people in the US experience constipation symptoms—and this number spikes as you get older. However, health experts say that making dietary changes can improve your symptoms.

Certain foods, like vegetables and whole grains, can bring relief, but you have to be careful to stay away from processed or high in fat because they can worsen your condition. This being said, knowing which foods to avoid when you’re constipated can improve your bowel movements and overall quality of life.

Symptoms of constipation

Constipation is a common condition, but this doesn’t make it less painful. You may be constipated if you have any of the following symptoms: hard, dry, lumpy stools; less than three bowel movements in a week; stools that are painful or difficult to pass; a feeling that you still need to use the bathroom even if you just did it.

To help reduce these symptoms, here are some foods to avoid when you’re constipated!

foods to avoid when you're constipated
Photo by Alena Haurylik from Shutterstock

1. Fried foods

Fried foods tend to be packed with sodium and saturated fat, which makes them longer to digest. As a result, they can slow digestion, which is the exact opposite of what you want if you’re feeling constipated.

Doughnuts, french fries, falafels, mozzarella sticks, churros, deep-fried pizza, onion rings, and even heavily breaded foods like fish are examples of foods to avoid when you’re constipated.

Studies show that diets that are low in saturated fats can increase the frequency of bowel movements. Experts note that, in some people, fried foods will trigger more urgent, looser poops. For others who are consuming greasy foods in place of dietary fiber sources like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, it may lead to constipation due to a low amount of fiber intake.

A fast-food meal usually consists of protein and carbohydrates (burgers and fries), which aren’t good sources of dietary fiber.

2. Processed foods

Consuming highly processed foods has been linked to a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, including diarrhea and constipation. This is because these foods tend to be full of fat, sodium, and sugar.

According to health experts, a high sodium intake can decrease the amount of water in your poop, which makes it harder for stool to pass through the digestive tract. Similarly, research indicates that meals high in saturated fats and added sugars are foods to avoid when you’re constipated because they slow down the ability to pass stool.

Some highly processed foods can also be low in fiber content, making them foods to avoid when you’re constipated. Fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that your body isn’t able to digest. The digestive tract breaks down most types of carbs into sugars. However, fiber passes through your digestive system without breaking down. This helps control your blood glucose and also softens your stool to help it move through your body more easily.

Some examples of processed foods to avoid when you’re constipated include, but are not limited to, pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, pre-packaged frozen meals, deli meat, snacks such as pretzels or potato chips, soda, and energy drinks.

3. Eggs

Some experts suggest that consuming too many eggs may cause constipation, especially in older adults. This is thought to be because of the high protein but low fiber content of eggs. However, other experts believe that eggs can actually help relieve constipation because they contain digestible proteins, which may help soften stool.

Since research is currently conflicting, studies on the link between eggs and constipation remain ongoing. While it’s best to see eggs as foods to avoid when you’re constipated, if you really want to have them in a meal, consider pairing them with high-fiber foods such as avocado, broccoli, spinach, and whole grains.

milk and food combinations
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4. Dairy products

Products made from milk are also among the foods to avoid when you’re constipated. Some people report having trouble passing stool after eating milk, cheese, and other full-fat dairy products. This may be because these foods can contain low amounts of fiber and high amounts of saturated fats.

Dairy products also contain lactose, which may cause constipation in people living with lactose intolerance—a sort of sensitivity that makes it difficult to digest lactose, a common sugar found in milk.

Studies also indicate that a type of milk protein called casein may slow down digestion and worsen constipation symptoms. If you’re experiencing constipation, it may be a good idea to limit your intake of full-fat dairy products like cheese, whole milk, sour milk, custard, and ice cream.

Instead, consider eating yogurt with added probiotics, which may boost bowel function and digestive health.

Read on to discover other foods to avoid when you’re constipated!

5. High-fat meats

Some types of meat can be packed with saturated fat while being low in fiber, making them foods to avoid when you’re constipated. Eating hot dogs, salami, bacon, beef, sausages, pork, lamb, or chicken in the sink will only make it difficult for the bowel movements to pass regularly.

Red meat is especially a bad dietary choice when you’re constipated. Being high in protein and containing more fat than other types of meat, it takes a longer time to digest. Moreover, red meat is devoid of fiber, which we’ve established is super important when it comes to digestion.

If you really feel like having a steak, make sure it comes with plenty of fiber-rich foods, like a large salad and a baked potato.

6. Sugary foods

Next on the list of foods to avoid when you’re constipated are desserts and processed snacks. Things that are high in sugar tend to be low in fiber, slowing down your body’s ability to digest foods with ease.

Cakes, pastries, pies, cookies, jams, hard candies, and chocolate contain a lot of processed sugar, and you may want to postpone indulging in them until your constipation is gone. Nutritionists recommend opting for alternatives that have natural sugars and high water content, such as kiwi, apples, oranges, peaches, berries, or watermelons.

While fruits are naturally high in sugar, they also contain fiber. This usually outweighs the negative effects that sugar has on your digestive tract and your ability to pass stool.

If you can’t give up your favorite savory snacks, experts recommend looking at the ingredient list and the grams of fiber in the products when grocery shopping.

frozen meals
Photo by Warren Price Photography from Shutterstock

7. Frozen dinners

Meals in a box may be convenient, but they rarely provide the nutritional value of a meal you cook yourself, which puts them on the list of foods to avoid when you’re constipated.

Frozen dinners are usually high in fat, salt, and preservatives—three key items that are not good for the digestive tract and are known to cause havoc on the digestive system. Nutritionists note that not all frozen foods are bad for digestion and health.

Frozen vegetables and fruits can be convenient, cost-effective alternatives to increase fiber intake and help fight constipation. The nutritional quality of frozen foods varies, so it’s important to read the label so you know what you’re eating. Look for meals that incorporate fiber from whole grains and vegetables while also limiting saturated fat.

8. Bananas

It’s interesting to note that bananas can also be among the foods to avoid when you’re constipated. These yellow fruits can either contribute to constipation or relieve it, depending on their ripeness. According to experts, when fully ripe, bananas contain soluble fiber and therefore can help treat constipation.

However, green, or unripe, bananas contain high levels of resistant starch, which can be very binding and trigger constipation. This is the reason why unripe bananas can be used to treat diarrhea.

Here’s a tea that can help you ease constipation!

If you liked our article on foods to avoid when you’re constipated, you may also want to read Chef’s Secrets: 10 Foods You Should Never Store in the Freezer.

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