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A Gastroenterologist’s Top 5 Ways to Stop Nervous Poops—Because If Anything’s Going to Make You *More* Nervous, It’s That

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanFebruary 24, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

Nervous poops are a real thing. Sure, it may not part of polite dinner conversation, but your mental health and digestion are more connected than you may think—and that can certainly cause some issues in the bathroom. But if anyone knows how to stop nervous poops before they start, it’s a gastroenterologist.

Dealing with anxiety is already hard. Your nerves can cause you to have physical reactions like nervous poops. “The gut’s nervous system—also known as the enteric nervous system—relies on neuropeptides and neurotransmitters like serotonin to regulate both intestinal motility and secretion,” says Andrea Culliford, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist with the Medical Offices of Manhattan. “Nervousness or anxiety can cause one to feel the need to go to the bathroom frequently in anxious situations and is related to the brain and gut’s nervous systems sending each other messages in times of stress or anxiety.”

Luckily, there are some expert-backed ways to stop your nerves from taking control of your bathroom schedule. If you’ve ever experienced nervous poops (even Olympian Adam Rippon has struggled!), start utilizing these tactics as soon as possible.

A gastroenterologist’s top 5 tips on how to stop nervous poops

1. Decrease caffeine intake

Your morning coffee is what kickstarts your day, but you might want to take a break from it if you’re experiencing nervous poops. According to Dr. Culliford, it’s crucial to decrease caffeine intake as it “may exacerbate the need to go to the bathroom.”

2. Be aware of what you’re eating

Some foods might make your nervous poops worse than others, so jot down anything you’re eating that may be causing problems. “Avoid food and drink that give you the symptoms,” says Dr. Culliford. “For example, milk/dairy or anything fried tends to exacerbate the situation and make people feel like they have to run to the bathroom.”

3. Destress with exercise and meditation

When it comes to stopping nervous poops, it’s always best to go to the root of the problem: your anxiety. “Decrease stress and anxiety through regular exercise, such as yoga,” says Dr. Culliford. “Also consider stress-reducing techniques like meditation, biofeedback therapy, or hypnotherapy.”

4. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber

How much fiber are you actually getting every day? Dr. Culliford says to aim for the average suggested fiber intake, which is 25 grams per day, in order to stop nervous poops. “We usually only get 10 to 12 grams per day in our daily diet,” she says. To make sure you’re reaching your fiber goals, eat plenty of veggies, lentils, and whole grains.

5. See a doctor if you need to

If your nervous poops don’t seem to be getting better, don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your doctor. “It’s always a good idea to make sure nothing more worrisome is happening, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease,” says Dr. Culliford.

Here’s a registered dietitian’s guide to gut health:

Here’s why photos of your poop (yes, really) are key to future gut health innovation. Then find out why you can blame your hormones for gnarly period poops.

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