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Treat Constipation with a Bland Diet

Constipation occurs when bowel movements occur too infrequently or when there is difficulty with passing movements. It can be difficult to state how often one should have a bowel movement, so the Mayo Clinic defines constipation as having less than three bowels movements each week.

Constipation is fairly common condition. There are many causes, which include the following:

  • Low intake of dietary fiber
  • Low intake of fluids
  • Lack of exercise
  • Illness
  • Disease
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Sudden changes in lifestyle

Many people can find relief by making simple lifestyle modifications. A useful strategy to alleviate constipation symptoms is to adopt a bland diet combined with an increase of fluids.

Bland Diet Treatment

Bland foods are ideal for those with a sensitive gastrointestinal tract who are prone to nausea, gas, and diarrhea. These foods  soften in the stomach and digest with greater ease.

Eat small meals more frequently and chew these foods thoroughly to assist with break down in the gut. Fried food, strong spices, and alcohol should be avoided on this kind of diet as they are highly stimulating and can cause worsen constipation.

Treat Constipation with a Bland DietFiber is Very Important!

The American Dietetic Association suggests 20g – 35g of fiber each day for people suffering from constipation. Fiber will improve stool composition and bowel regularity.

Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes will assist in correcting constipation, but increasing fiber intake too quickly can shock the system and could cause discomfort, diarrhea, and bloating. It is better to increase fiber intake slowly over several weeks to allow the body to adjust. Gradually replace meat, cheese, and processed food, as they contain little to no fiber.

Fluid Intake

Consuming adequate fluid is critical in those with constipation. Water will make stool softer and make movements easier.

Eight to ten glasses of fluid is a good daily goal. The best choice is pure water, but fruit juice, reduced-fat milk, sports drinks, decaf teas, and broth soups are also acceptable. The juice from prunes and apricots is commonly known to be useful in promoting regularity.

Sipping on a beverage over the course of a day is more effective than gulping it down quickly. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen constipation and should be avoided.

Optimal Food Choices

Treat Constipation with a Bland DietProduce Fresh, cooked, or dried vegetables and fruits are possibly the best choice as they contain fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They also contain antioxidants, which are important in preventing disease.

Choose dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli are also very healthy options. Stone fruits like apples and apricots are great fruit choices, along with any variety of berries.

Remember that the healthiest part of many fruits and vegetables is the skin or rind, so be sure to eat them if edible. Also, raw produce contains more fiber remains than cooked.

Meats Lean, soft animal meats are a great option on this diet. Cook them without added fats by steaming, baking, or grilled.  Lean beef, chicken, turkey, and fish are good choices.

Whole grains Whole grain products like breads, pastas, and quinoa are excellent options. Remember to avoid white bread and regular pasta as they have had their fiber removed during processing.

Dairy Choose low-fat cheese, skim milk, eggs, or yogurt.

Other Some other great options include tofu, dry peas, and peanut butter.

Some people may be tempted to add fat or spice to bland foods to give them more flavors. This is counter-productive, as many spices can agitate the gut and make constipation worse.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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