Last revised on July 29, 2018
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) problems, affecting about 42 million people in the United States”. And that’s based on their definition of constipation being, “fewer than three bowel movements a week”! Even though diet may not be only thing that could relieve constipation, depending on how bad it is, it will certainly improve your digestion, in turn, contributing to relief from constipation.
The big question is what to eat and what not to eat? The diet debate is more convoluted than ever. Which is why, we are going to put it to you straight, with these 12 simple tips you can apply that will improve your digestion eliminating one factor to illnesses.
#1 Eat only when you’re hungry
It’s not important to strictly have three meals a day. It is important to NOT eat unless you are hungry which leads to the next tip.
#2 Do NOT eat more than what you need
Generally speaking, overeating is actually worse than not eating at all. Don’t hit that feeling of being FULL – eating slowly and mindfully is a good way to know when to stop.
#3 Eat dinner portions no more than twice a day
Snack on raw and fresh (not dried, cooked or canned) fruit and vegetables the rest of the day as often as you need. It’s important, however, to ensure you are actually hungry before you indulge in snacking. Try first, drinking a pint of water, as feeling hungry can be a sign of poor hydration. Snack ONLY if you still feel hungry after about 20-30 minutes. Fresh juices and/or smoothies are best for snacking since they are much easier to digest.
#4 Ignore fad diets such as veganism, paleo, raw food etc.
That is not to say these diets are no good. In fact, they may serve some people very well. There is no one-size-fits-all applicable to diet, especially if those trends don’t fit your food preferences or lifestyle. You may eat vegetables, dairy or meat per your preference. The basic rule of thumb is: if you can digest it (meaning you don’t feel bloated, have indigestion or less than one bowel movement a day), it’s meant for you.
#5 Avoid all processed foods
White flour, white sugar (including “brown” sugar, which is nothing but white sugar mixed with molasses) and “foods” containing chemical additives and preservatives. Processed foods do not move through your bowels well and chemical additives throw-off your gut flora, which is much needed for proper digestion.
#6 Eat supper at least 4 hours before bed time
You do NOT want to be digesting food during the body’s optimum natural healing time, which is when you are sleeping.
#7 Ditch bread, switch to potatoes for healthy carbs
Grains are acid-producing so vegetables make for a better source of carbohydrates. When you do eat grains, ensure they are whole and preferably fermented for better assimilation.
#8 Do NOT drink too much water with meals
If you are thirsty at meal times, drink a small amount of, preferably warm water, which will further support digestion. If you need to drink more than a cup, wait 20-30 minutes before eating. This way you won’t dilute the Hydrochloric acid in your stomach which is much needed for proper digestion.
#9 This goes without saying – avoid all GMO and non-organic foods at all cost!
In case you are one of those who question the credibility of Organic food sources, do your research and stick with reputable companies. When forced to pick commercially grown produce, be sure to consult EWG’s guidelines for Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, to minimize your health risk.
#10 Avoid mystery ingredients
Do not eat anything that has names in the ingredients that you don’t know what they are, can’t pronounce or that look like chemical abbreviations or symbols. Food is not complicated. If the ingredients suggest it is – it’s NOT food!
#11 Ensure you’re getting at least one bowel movement a day
Keeping your bowels clear will improve their ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Ideally, you should be moving your bowels 2-3 times a day. Moreover, the shape and color of your poop speaks a lot about how well you’re digesting your food. If it’s not long and firm “banana-like” (gross!), and brown in color, seek professional advice from a health provider of your choice.
#12 Fast often
Intermittent fasting keeps your bowels clean but that’s just scratching the surface. Check out this article about other health benefits of fasting.