The Cheap, Shelf-Stable Food That Will Help Keep Constipation at Bay, According to an RD

Facing some constipation? Here's why an RD swears behind the same remedy that your grandma does.

Anyone who has ever been constipated can attest that it is incredibly not fun. There are really no upsides to constipation, except that, well, you'll be able to make your toilet paper rations last longer. (Gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?) Jokes and apocalypse talk aside, if you're constipated, you probably want to get pooping right away. Luckily, there are foods that can help.

First off, how can you tell if you're actually constipated? On our latest episode of You Versus Food, registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, breaks it down. "Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, and when you do they are hard, dry, and small," she says. People can also experience other fun side-effects like cramping, abdominal pressure, lack of appetite, and nausea, she says. A lot of things can cause constipation, like dehydration, not eating enough fiber, traveling, changes in routine, and stress. (Well, most of us can rule out traveling as a cause for the time being, at least.)

There are quite a few things that can help. But one of the easiest, and cheapest options is making like an octogenarian and eating a serving of prunes.

"The oldest trick in the book is to eat some prunes when you need some help in the bathroom," Beckerman says. (Tell Grandma: prunes do help constipation.) "This is true thanks to the high amounts of fiber and sorbitol in prunes." Fiber, of course, can help keep a person regular, and sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that can be naturally found in fruits, "which can speed up the GI system and may even cause laxative-like effects if consumed in excess," Beckerman says. It's a classic for a reason—it really works.

Not a prune fan? There are other foods you can eat that can help with constipation. Watch the video above to get more details.

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