It seems counterintuitive that, although we are eating so much fiber-rich, healthful foods, some of us get constipated.
Here are some suggestions you may find helpful:
- Add wheat bran to your breakfast. (Not oat bran. WHEAT BRAN.) Unfortunately, wheat bran doesn’t cook up into a hot cereal well. But it will work as PART of a hot cereal. So, if you normally would have 1 oz. of oats for breakfast, instead make it 1/2 oz. dry quick oats and 1/2 oz. wheat bran. Add 4 oz. water and cook it in the microwave for 2 minutes. That, plus staying really hydrated, will help a lot.
- A lot of people swear by ground flax seeds. You can add up to 3/4 oz. of ground flax seeds on top of the oatmeal/wheat bran cooked cereal suggestion from #1 above. Then top off the rest of your breakfast protein with 1.25 oz. of nuts, seeds, roasted edamame, or roasted chickpeas. (Note: some people have also found that WHOLE flaxseeds relieve their constipation. They don’t get absorbed readily for their nutrients, but that doesn’t mean they don’t aid in digestion. You might try that.)
- Chelated magnesium works. You buy it like a vitamin (it’s not a vitamin, it’s a mineral, but you’ll find it in the vitamin aisle). Have you heard of “Milk of Magnesia?” Magnesium is the ingredient that makes it work and was the solution I used for years. I bought 250 mg tablets of chelated magnesium and took two at breakfast and two at dinner every day, for a total of 1,000 mg of magnesium per day. If I missed even one dose I wouldn’t have a BM the next day—that dose kept me regular for years. You may need to give it up to a week’s time for it to be fully effective.
- Psyllium husk can also work. Find an unsweetened/unflavored/plain brand of psyllium husk powder, and drink 5 grams (1 teaspoon) 1-3 times a day in a big glass of water.
- Remember to avoid “binding” foods like cheese, bananas, and black tea.
- Remember to drink lots and lots of water and to move your body gently, like going for a walk every now and then. Many have found that a mug of hot water with lemon juice squeezed into it first thing in the morning can be very beneficial.
Personally, when I went to a whole food plant-based plan in 2012, my lifelong constipation issues evaporated. Even though I now eat a little bit of animal protein again, I’m quite regular, requiring none of the above tricks. I’ve learned to avoid dairy (it’s very constipating) and find that as long as I don’t eat too much animal protein, I stay regular. I do know some people still have constipation issues even though they’re WFPB, so the suggestions above would apply in those cases.