Constipation, Age 12 and Older (cont.)
You can prevent constipation.
- Make sure you are drinking enough fluids.
- Drink 2 to 4 extra glasses of water per day, especially in the morning.
- Drink 1.5 qt (1.4 L) to 2 qt (2 L) of water and other fluids, such as noncaffeinated beverages, every day.
- Add high-fiber foods to your diet. Doctors recommend that you eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber every day. Packaged foods and fiber supplements include the amount of fiber content in the nutrition information. You should increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and gas.
- Eat at least 2 servings of fruit—such as apricots, peaches, pears, raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and other dried fruits—each day.
- Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables—such as cooked dried beans or peas (legumes), broccoli, or cauliflower—each day.
- Increase whole-grain foods, such as bran flakes, bran muffins, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Eat brown rice, bulgur, or millet instead of white rice. Eat 6 to 11 servings of grains (breads, cereals, rice, pasta) each day. For example, a serving is 1 slice of bread, half of a bagel, or ½ cup pasta or rice.
- Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals; buy bread that lists whole wheat, stone-ground wheat, or cracked wheat in the ingredients.
- Eat a bowl of bran cereal with 2 tsp (10 mL) of bran per serving.
- Snack on unbuttered, unsalted popcorn.
- Add 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of wheat bran to cereal or soup. If you do this, start slowly with 1 tsp (5 mL) a day. Gradually increase the amount to 2 Tbsp (30 mL) a day.
- Mix 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of psyllium (found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming agents) with a fluid, and drink it.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which can increase dehydration.
- Exercise more. A walking program would be a good start. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
- Set aside relaxing times for having bowel movements. Urges usually occur sometime after meals. Establishing a daily routine for bowel movements, such as after breakfast, may help.
- Go when you feel the urge. Your bowels send signals when a stool needs to pass. If you ignore the signal, the urge will go away, and the stool will eventually become dry and difficult to pass.
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