If ever I’m in a bad mood or had a rough day, there is one surefire way to get me to giggle, and that is to make a joke about poop. Or for someone to fart. Or talk about farts.
I know, I know, that’s really immature! I have a pretty immature sense of humor – not very classy – but it is what it is. Poop humor makes me laugh like a 6 year old and it always has.
But, as much as I find poop humor hilarious, my day is completely ruined when I can’t poop. In fact, I feel like my day doesn’t even really begin if it doesn’t start with a poop (I can’t believe I just typed those two sentences. I never thought I’d be putting that on the internet for all to read). If you’re reading this, you either enjoy poop humor also or you’re someone who feels the same way about the need for a daily poop! Your thoughts in the morning go, coffee, food, poop, shower. Everything else comes afterwards. If you are shaking your head in agreement right now, you might be my spirit animal.
This need, um, expectation for a daily, regular poop (should I use the term bowel movement?? Is that more appropriate? Probably but “bm” grosses me out more than poop. I’m going to keep saying poop.) came about because I’ve spent way too much of my life chronically constipated. Yes, I am the constipated kind of lady. This probably explains my lack of filter in social situations. It’s all about balance.
(Oh my God. I’m writing about my constipation on the internet.)
When constipation becomes the norm for you, you start to look for ways to fix it. The trouble with constipation, is that it can be caused by a zillion things – poor diet, medications, IBS, IBD, diverticulitis, not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber, stress, pregnancy, lack of exercise, thyroid disorders and more, but it isn’t always easy to figure out the source. And seeing a doctor about it usually means just leaving with a recommendation of taking a daily dose of fiber supplements or laxatives. But long term use of those things can be problematic as well!
So if you’re in the constipation camp yourself, what else can you do about it? I was on the Metamucil and Miralax train for years and while both helped for awhile, I found I got addicted to them – in the sense that my body couldn’t go without taking them. No good! My intestines were so messed up from using them for years that I was terrified of going off of them because things don’t just start magically working when they haven’t for years.
Thankfully with a little trial and error, I’ve found a few sure-things that work for me so I thought I’d share (however TMI) in case they help you too!
7 Ways to Get Your Daily Poop On
1. Prunes or prune juice can do wonders for constipation. Your grandparents were right! Eat a couple right before bed and they’ll kick in in the morning. You can also pour hot water over a couple of prunes and let it stew like tea for a few minutes and then drink it (and eat the prunes). Sounds really gross and the prune flavor/texture might be tough to get used to, but at least it’s just fruit. Also, it’s way grosser to be constipated, yes? We’re still not 100% sure what it is about prunes that makes them such a reliable natural laxative but it’s suspected that it’s due to their fiber, phenolic compounds and sorbitol content. Who cares, as long as they work, right?!
2. First thing in the morning, drink a big glass of warm water as soon as you get up. While we’re sleeping, digestion slows down to a crawl so the body can use it’s energy for repair. We also are a bit dehydrated when we first wake because we’ve been fasting overnight. Drinking water when you wake up rehydrates you (essential for healthy poops!) and gives your entire digestive system the signal that it’s time to start cranking. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice to your water for an added boost – it is believed to stimulate the liver to increase bile production which also can help you poop.
3. Get yourself onto a “toilet schedule”. Yep. Go at the same time everyday. One reason people get constipated is because they ignore the urge to go and the nerves that are responsible for letting us know it’s time get desensitized after a while – this means you stop getting the urge to go, even though there is plenty in the exit queue. Sitting yourself down on the toilet at the same time each day whether you feel like it’s time or not will help your body get the clue that this is the appropriate time to do it’s business. This is one that will take consistency for it to work. Having your body learn the schedule is like teaching a little kid to tie their shoes. You’ll have to show them over and over again and it’ll seem like you’re not getting anywhere and then one day they’ll do it on their own and everyone will be proud. 🙂
4. Get into proper position. As part of that toilet schedule, buy yourself the squatty potty or put your feet up on a stool, basket or something else that is a few inches from the ground and gets you into a more natural squatting position. Humans aren’t designed to be pooping the way we do. Pooping with your legs bent is life changing, I promise! Do this and you’ll start investigating what items are the correct size for doing your business when you go on vacation or stay in hotels. Of course, you could always buy the travel squatty potty.
5. Eat Chia Seeds that have gelled. If the prune treats don’t help you or they don’t help enough, take 2 tbsp of chia seeds and stir them into a 12 oz glass of water. Cover and put in the fridge – stir again in 20 minutes and continue to let them gel for at least an hour. The chia seeds will begin to absorb the water and a gel will form around them. If eaten with enough water, the seeds will become slippery and act like a lubricant, helping waste move along easily in your colon. Eat a tbsp or two of this mixture every day for best results. I also recommend washing it down with some extra water and doing it around the same time each day. Don’t try to eat the seeds without soaking first – they can cause even worse constipation or even be a choking hazard if not taken with enough liquid.
6. Consider trying a Magnesium supplement. If you do everything listed above and still have trouble, it might be worth trying a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a mineral that most of us are pretty deficient in anyway because our soil has been heavily depleted of it so most of our foods don’t contain as much of it as our bodies require. Magnesium is responsible for a ton of processes in the body – one of which is helping our muscles contract and relax appropriately. Pooping happens because of peristalsis, which are the muscle contractions that help waste move along the digestive tract. Taking a magnesium supplement regularly can help restore muscle function. This is huge. The hard part is figuring out the correct dose and type (magnesium comes in many forms – some more absorbable than others) you’ll need for your particular body. The amount of magnesium we need each day changes depending on stress, how much sleep we’ve gotten, what our diet is like etc so you’ll have to pay close attention to how your body reacts. The body wants to keep a very particular balance of magnesium in your blood stream – and if you take in too much it will rid itself of excess in the form of diarrhea. No thanks! So when starting to supplement, go slowly and take less than you think you’ll need at first.
I take magnesium for more than preventing constipation – it’s really beneficial for a lot of things. It helps me sleep more soundly at night, my muscles recover faster from hard workouts and it helps keep my asthma under control. I also have high blood pressure and it’s making a difference there too. If you take any medications or have any medical conditions, please talk to your doctor before taking any supplement on a regular basis. Magnesium is pretty safe but there are definitely people for whom it is not appropriate for. Safety first kids!
7. Try an Elimination Diet. This one is more complicated to do, but might be the right thing for some of you. Food sensitivities can cause a lot of symptoms (or none at all) and they’re often missed because the symptoms appear slowly over a long period of time – not all at once. During an elimination diet a few years ago (for coach training), as I added back in wheat/gluten and dairy, I noticed I got more constipated than I was before. As I mentioned earlier, constipation has long been an issue of mine. While on the elimination diet, I noticed things were a little better (but I was eating a lot of veg, fruit and seeds) but when I added those foods back in, it was like my insides turned to bricks! I have other symptoms with those foods -but this clued me in to the fact that my constipation could be partially caused by sensitivities to these foods. I stayed away for a long time – every so often, if I decide to have a piece of bread or some cake – I’m assaulted with days of serious anger in my colon. Yeah, that’s certainly a sign I shouldn’t be eating it. A major way for me to keep things happy there is to not eat wheat or dairy. Might be something worth looking into if you’ve tried everything you can think of and still have some troubles. I can help with that.
There they are! Like with anything, consistency is key. Try any of these alone or in conjunction with another for at least a week before deciding that it doesn’t work for you. If your body is totally out of whack and you’ve been constipated for years, it may take more than a week to even see if something is working. Be patient and open minded!