Are you looking to make some changes but don’t know where to start? Begin here...
It’s very easy to read a list of tips and think, “Yes that sounds easy enough” – but some days it can feel like a miracle you made it to work let alone have time to go to the toilet beforehand.
If you're trying to change your lifestyle so that you avoid getting bunged up, it's all about small steps. The changes aren’t going to be visible overnight, but by trying one thing at a time, or even combining a couple of changes you’ll soon give your body the push it needs to get back on track.
Eat more fibre
Try and add in a fibre-rich food to every meal. Swap your bread, pasta and rice to wholegrain and try to get your five a day. Add a salad or some vegetables to every meal and chomp on fresh fruit as a snack.
Good foods for constipation:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Brown rice
- Wholemeal pasta
- Wholemeal bread
If you feel you have IBS related constipation please look at www.ibs-relief.co.uk for advice on diet. If you have any concerns about your symptoms and think you might have IBS, seek medical advice.
Many of us like to skip breakfast, but really avoiding breakfast is a big no-no if you’re prone to constipation. Eating in the morning will help wake your digestive system, and hopefully you’ll need to go to the toilet soon after.
Sorbitol is found in fruit juices and some dried fruits, so snacking on dried apricots or prunes is a tasty way of helping maintain normal movement. Don't go too mad though, they can work very fast!
Why not combine all of the above in one change and have a fibre-rich breakfast with some dried fruit on the top? This should help with the next piece of advice, which is:
Try and go to the toilet at the same time every day
If you are able to make the time, try and go to the toilet around the same time each day. Ideally, try and make it first thing after breakfast. Some men and women swear by their early morning 'constitutional' and if you manage to get your breakfast in, it could get your bowels into good habits.
Don't ignore your urges
If you have the urge to go to the toilet, go as soon as you can. We know that it’s not always possible, but if you’re worried about going at work, holding on until you get home isn’t good for you.
The thought of using a public toilet can seem like a nightmare, but if you’re prepared with anti-bacterial wipes hopefully it won’t seem too bad. Avoiding going to the toilet will make your constipation worse, so try your best to ‘grin and bear it’.
Drink more fluids
The old ones are the best, but there's some truth in the advice that if you don't drink enough fluids and you get dehydrated, constipation could be the result. It doesn't have to be water - juices, tea and coffee are good too, as is water-rich food like fruit and vegetables.
If you can knock back a few glasses of water as well, that's perfect, as too much caffeine can dehydrate you, and that's not the effect you want. Oh, and alcohol sadly doesn't count, so you can't get your quota with beer or wine…
Get some exercise
Do you find the gym dull? Don’t worry, there are many other ways you can get your dose of exercise. Why not go to the park for a kick about, or a fast walk? If it gets your heart rate up and leaves you a bit breathless it’s helping you.
All you need is a regular activity that you enjoy to help get everything moving again.
Cut down on stress
Yes, we know, if only! Remember, there’s no need to get stressed about being constipated, it happens to all of us occasionally. If work is stressing you out, talk to your boss about your workload or whatever is bothering you.
A problem shared is a problem halved, so get other stress worries out in the open. Talk to your friends, your partner, or your family and get it off your chest.
Try and make time for relaxation whenever you can, even if it's just locking yourself in the bathroom with a scented candle, bubble bath and a good book, or listening to your favourite music to unwind.
If you're having problems with prolonged stress, anxiety or depression, see your doctor.
Get piles treated
Ouch! Haemorrhoids, or piles, are common so don't be embarrassed to visit your pharmacist and find a way to help get the painful symptoms sorted if they are putting you off going to the toilet.
You can even pick up a treatment for piles in the supermarket these days, nobody is going to notice, honest.