Let’s look at ways to prevent constipation. During the Holiday Season, we tend to stray from our normal routines of diet, exercise and even sleep. Travel and changes in schedule can create added stress. Ultimately, these can result in a slow running digestive system that makes you feel bloated, gassy and full. You might even experience stomach pain, nausea and bleeding during bowel movements. These symptoms can interfere with your daily life and comfort which could ruin any plans you have to enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year.” Fortunately, a gastroenterologist can give you guidance on how to stop constipation in its tracks.
Here are some common and effective methods to reduce – or even eliminate – constipation so you can enjoy the Holiday season!
Ditch the Holiday Cocktails and Salty Snacks; Drink Plenty of Water Instead
Even moderate alcohol drinking causes dehydration. And dehydration leads to constipation. Drinking water is essential for many things, including digestion. If you are dehydrated, you are much more likely to have constipation because your body does not have enough water to soften stool. It is important that you drink the recommended amount of water for your body.
Do you sweat a lot or exercise regularly? If so – it is important to increase your water intake. It is also important to drink extra water if you routinely drink coffee, other caffeinated drinks, or alcohol. Finally, make sure to drink more water if you are consuming salty foods at Holiday gatherings.
Maintain Your Exercise Routine
People who live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to experience constipation than those who remain active. This is because a lack of physical activities slows down the movement of food in the large intestine. The longer food stays in the intestine, the more water is taken from it and absorbed into the body. By the time it exits the body, the stool becomes dry and hard.
If you exercise regularly, try to keep moving throughout the Holiday season.
When you feel constipated, you should go for a walk or exercise. This will help stimulate the muscles in the large intestine and help move food through your system faster, thus reducing the loss of water in it.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber enhances the size and weight of stool. It also softens it, making it less likely for you to experience difficulty during bowel movements. The heavier and larger stool is, the less likely you are to experience constipation.
Try to incorporate fiber-rich foods into your Holiday meals to reduce or eliminate constipation. Foods that are high in fiber include fruits and vegetables like broccoli and berries, as well as beans. Increase your intake of whole grains, as well. Offer to bring side dishes that are rich in fiber to Holiday gatherings.
Find Ways to Destress
Stress can cause constipation for some people. If this is something you struggle with, it is important to recognize what causes your stress to help reduce it. There are many coping mechanisms that can help you destress and relax – time management techniques, yoga and meditation are just a few examples of stress management tools that you can use.
Limit Cheese and Red Meats
Meal planning can be a tremendous help in reducing or eliminating constipation. Red meat and cheese do not have fiber. Red meat also tends to have more fat, which takes longer for your system to digest. If you have constipation, you should reduce your intake of these foods. You can also balance out your system by incorporating fiber-rich foods into meals with red meats and cheeses.
Chronic Constipation Treatment
If your constipation does not go away, schedule an appointment with one of our digestive health specialists. We will help to detect if an underlying digestive problem is causing constipation, educate you about ways to improve your digestive health and provide treatment if necessary.
Book an appointment with Ocean Family Gastroenterology ONLINE or by calling 732-781-1590.