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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by LaurenFlower.co to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

Are you constipated? It’s okay to admit it. Constipation is one of the most common complaints, and unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t have many solutions beyond eating more fiber and laxatives.

I really don’t mind talking about poop with people, and I ask my patients probing questions about their bathroom habits. Some openly discuss it, while others quickly answer and move on. There’s no point silently suffering if there’s a way to relieve constipation.

What’s a Normal Poop?

It’s very individual to your system, but normal is once or twice a day. Skipping a few days, or straining and spending several hours in the bathroom is a sign of something going on down there. Check out the Bristol Stool Chart for visuals (seriously, go look). A normal bowel movement should be easy to pass, dark-brown and for lack of better words, look like a log. It should not feel incomplete once you’re done.

Why does it even matter?

First of all, it’s uncomfortable! That’s good enough for me.

Second, it’s waste for a reason – it needs to get out of your body. If it stays blocked up in your body, toxins and hormones have the chance to be re-absorbed back into the body rather than getting out of there.

Causes of Constipation

Some common causes of constipation include:

  • Imbalance in gut bacteria
  • Slow motility
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hormone Changes – ladies, you may notice constipation at different times during your monthly cycle.
  • Food Sensitivities – especially gluten, dairy, or FODMAPs
  • Lack of fiber
  • Lack of physical activity and movement in your day
  • Dehydration
  • Medications, especially narcotics for pain

Bloating and constipation are more common in women, and us ladies actually have a longer colon than men by 10 cm.

How to Get Things Moving without a Laxative

A laxative may sound like a great option, but did you know that these are actually gut irritants? They work by irritating the gut, so you may be damaging your gut by taking them everyday. You can become dependent on stimulant laxatives after a while. Instead, try these 7 solutions that work at the cause and are healing to the gut.


1. Eating fermented and probiotic-rich foods. 

Including fermented foods like kombucha, fermented veggies (sauerkraut), kefir, or yogurt with live cultures, or taking a probiotic supplement (this is my favorite one!) can help change your gut flora to get rid of the bad bugs and bring in friendly ones.

2. Increase fluid intake.

Dehydration creates hard stool that is painful to pass. Replace dehydrating fluids like coffee, alcohol, or caffeinated sodas and energy drinks with water to stay well-hydrated. Warm water with lemon or hot herbal teas like ginger tea in the morning may be helpful. The warmth may stimulate movement.

3. Magnesium

Most Americans do not take in enough of this essential nutrient. A magnesium supplement may help. Try taking it in the evening before bed with extra water for a normal bowel movement in the morning.

4. Normal Bowel Habits

Do you ignore the urge to go? If you don’t go when you feel the urge, your constipation can slowly get worse. Make time in the morning to sit down and try to go. If you strain while you go, this Squatty Potty (yes, you can laugh) supports the natural squatting position.

5. Eat Fiber from Whole Foods to Prevent It

Fiber One bars are common for a reason, but it’s best to get your fiber from whole plant foods like fruits and vegetables. When you increase your fiber, you also need to increase your fluid intake!

Note: Fiber helps to prevent constipation. If you are already severely constipated, adding more fiber to a blockage may worsen the problem.

6. Mindful Eating

Good digestion requires using all your senses. Taking time to relax before a meal prepares your body for digestion. Stress can be a factor in IBS, and when you eat in a stressed state, your digestion is impaired. Slow down your eating, and chew, chew, chew your food.

7. Move your body.

Get up and move throughout the day with short walks, a set of squats, or yoga poses. Twisting or compressing yoga poses can help move things along as well. Try out poses that gently press on your colon if things are stuck down there.

I don’t want you to suffer with being full of you-know-what, so give these suggestions a try and let me know how things go! 🙂

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