Healthy Eating Tips

‘I’m a Registered Dietitian, and This Is Exactly What I Eat—And What I Avoid at All Costs—When I Can’t Poop’

Photo: Stocksy/ Melanie DeFazio
When you just can’t seem to recall the last time you went number two and your usual cup of coffee in the morning isn’t doing the trick, it might be time to call in some reinforcements. But before you jump to any drastic measures, this registered dietitian says that eating more of certain foods can actually be your saving grace.

Of course, when you’re feeling super backed up, eating more roughage might be the last thing on your mind. However, according to Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a Miami-based registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it might be exactly what you need to get things flowing in the right direction.

Ehsani shared with Well+Good the top foods to help her poop (and the ones that she avoids at all costs) when her regular appointment with the loo hasn’t shown up. Plus, she shares three key steps to prevent constipation in the first place with a few simple lifestyle changes. So, how about we all get on the right tract, err, I mean track?

7 best foods to make you poop, according to a registered dietitian

When registered dietitian Roxana Ehsani is feeling backed up like the 405 freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour, there are a few foods she relies on to get things moving—and, major shocker, all of these foods are rich in fiber.

Of course, we know that fiber is one of the key nutrients for promoting healthy digestion. Before you run to the store to pick up all 11 of these vegetables packed with the most fiber per serving, Ehsani adds that there’s something else you’ll want to heavily prioritize consuming in tandem: water. “Fiber-rich foods will definitely help you poop, but you also have to make sure you are drinking enough fluid as well, and if you do bump up your fiber grams, make sure you are bumping up your fluid ounces that day as well,” she says. This is a fairly common mistake that occurs when eating more fiber. (Not to mention the fact that dehydration can be one of the many sneaky culprits that lead to constipation.)

In short, when adding more fiber to your diet, you’ll want to increase water intake to help properly digest the nutrients to allow the fiber to make its long journey through the body smoothly. Bon voyage, fiber!

So, what are Ehsani’s top fiber-rich foods that her help poop? Here are a few:

1. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are rich in dietary fiber, protein, and omega-3 fats, making them the perfect food to sprinkle onto your plate. The dietary fiber content in them will help keep your digestive tract moving, and foods rich in omega-3 can also help alleviate constipation and keep things move along, too,” says Ehsani.

2. Dried fruits

Ehsani loves the double whammy potential of dried fruits like dates, prunes, and raisins. She explains that these nutrient-dense foods are loaded with tons of dietary fiber *and* boatloads of essential vitamins and minerals.

3. Herbal tea

According to Ehsani, sipping on a cup of warm peppermint or ginger tea can also help alleviate any discomfort that comes along with constipation. These soothing beverages can help mitigate symptoms like nausea, indigestion, and might even help soften and push things through the digestive tract.

4. Caffeinated beverages

It’s no coincidence that you always need to make a mad dash toward the restroom right after enjoying a good ol’ cup of joe. “Caffeinated beverages, like coffee, can activate your colon and intestinal muscles to contract, which can push contents towards your rectum,” Ehsani says. So, don’t stop drinking your fave brew when you're feeling backed up. (As if we could ever imagine doing such a thing.)

5. Berries

“Berries are one of the highest-fiber fruits, so consuming any type of berry will help you reach your daily needs fiber-wise and may even help you poop,” she says. Not to mention, they taste a tad bit better than prunes, IMO.

6. Legumes

“Beans and lentils are rich in dietary fiber and a great plant-based source of protein. Instead of consuming meat or poultry at each meal, sub in lentils and beans a few times a week; you may notice your bowels start moving much more smoothly, and it will help prevent constipation,” Ehsani says.

7. Grains

When it comes to whole grains, Ehsani says oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and sprouted grains are her top picks. She says they contain significantly more dietary fiber (and protein) than their refined white counterparts.

What foods to avoid when constipated, according to an RD

When you’re all backed up and just can’t go, you’ll want to eat pretty much the exact opposite of what you would have when you just can’t stop going, aka when a bout of diarrhea hits. Go figure. According to Ehsani, white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugar-filled cereals are off the table, literally. Why? Because they *don’t* have much, if any, dietary fiber, which won’t help the cause when you need to move things through (and out) of your digestive tract stat.

3 simple lifestyle changes to prevent constipation from ruining your day once and for all

Maintain a consistent eating schedule. “If you're more prone to constipation, I always recommend people try to eat on the same schedule to get their digestive tract on track. Simply consuming at the same time each day will help your digestive tract know when to expect food and may help things get more regular,” Ehsani says.

Make sure you’re eating enough. “Sometimes, you just need enough and more food to poop!” she says. Ehsani notes that some of her patients have experienced constipation if they’re not meeting the recommended allotment of calories and nutrients on a regular basis. She suggests meeting with a registered dietitian to figure out the appropriate food plan to meet your individual needs.

Get moving. “Getting active will also help with your constipation. Getting up and going for a walk, or doing some jumping jacks and getting your body warm and blood flowing through your body can help move things along too,” Ehsani says. TYSM, gravity.

Au revoir, constipation:

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