Eating Strategies

Foods That Cause Constipation (and how the FODMAP Diet can help!)

 Learn how high FODMAP foods cause chronic constipation and if IBS might be to blame. Luckily, diet and other natural remedies are safe and effective if you’re dealing with this frustrating condition.

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Dealing with occasional constipation is very low on the list of fun and enjoyable things. Dealing with chronic constipation (infrequent bowel movements over an extended period of time) is even more aggravating.

The abdominal pain, the discomfort, the cramping, pinching, and feeling of being unable to let it all go… it’s pretty awful, and it impacts your daily life in countless ways.

If you’ve been struggling with chronic constipation, and nothing you’ve tried so far has helped, you might have IBS-C. And if that’s what’s going on, there’s good news: The FODMAP diet can help you with this stubborn symptom.

Unlike the occasional bout of constipation, IBS-C is caused by specific types of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPs are found in a wide array of foods.

While these foods are perfectly healthy for most people, they can trigger symptoms if you have IBS. (And if you aren’t sure whether your constipation is caused by IBS or not, keep reading.)

Foods That Cause Constipation

For people with IBS-C, constipation is caused by the fermentation of high-FODMAP foods as they sit in the large intestine. These foods can’t be digested properly by people with IBS, and the byproduct of that fermentation is gas, among other things. This, in turn, causes the bloating, pain, and digestive slow-down. No fun.

Here are some of the most common constipation-causing high-FODMAP foods:

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Peaches

  • Cherries

  • Blackberries

  • Watermelon

  • Plums

  • Dried fruit

  • Asparagus

  • Cauliflower

  • Peas

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Milk, yogurt & ice cream

  • Wheat bread and pasta

  • Rye bread

  • Beans

  • Cashews & pistachios

  • Coconut flour

For a free cheat sheet listing high-FODMAP foods, click here.

Some people with IBS are prone to constipation, while others are prone to diarrhea, in what’s called IBS-D. And some folks with IBS experience both constipation and diarrhea, at different times. It’s not entirely sure why this happens. Research is still being done!

FODMAPs are the major constipation culprit if you have IBS, but other foods can also play a role if eaten in large quantities or very frequently.

Other constipation-causing foods:

High Fat Meals - If you’ve spent a weekend eating fried food or lots of desserts and chocolate, you might end up constipated since fatty meals are slower to digest.

Red Meat - It can be higher in fat than other proteins, but its high iron content can stop you up as well. But don’t give red meat completely--just reduce the frequency so you can still get the health benefits.

Starchy, Low-Fiber Foods - Unripe bananas, white bread, and white rice can move through the digestive tract slowly. Opt for whole wheat bread and brown rice instead.

Alcohol - It irritates the stomach and dehydrates you, leading to slow-moving bowels. Drink in moderation and get plenty of fluids.

Natural Ways to Relieve Constipation

Constipation is a stubborn condition so often multiple strategies are needed. So, where do you start?

More Fiber? Yes, But...

A commonly-held belief with constipation is that it’s caused by a lack of fiber. Because of this, people often assume they need to add fiber to their diet, in the form of things like whole wheat breads and pastas, beans, fibrous veggies, and so forth.

But with constipation caused by IBS-C, this actually ends up loading the system with more high-FODMAP foods, causing even more problems. Tried adding more fiber to your diet, and it hasn’t helped? You might be dealing with IBS. Increasing your FODMAP intake is going to increase the problems.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

Even on a low-FODMAP diet plan, getting enough fiber is important, but you have to do it safely, in line with your plan. Foods like potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, nuts, chia seeds, spinach, other greens, carrots, strawberries can be great sources of safe fiber. You can aim for 20–25 grams per day, and adjust based on how you feel.

(You can also check out this article on my blog for more specific recommendations on fiber intake and the low-FODMAP diet!)

You can also take a fiber supplement, but if you have IBS, it’s important to only add the right kind of fiber to your diet.

Soluble fiber attracts water, which helps with the formation of normal stools--not too loose or too hard. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, keeps things moving through your digestive tract.

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are good to add for IBS-C. For IBS-D, you should avoid the insoluble type.

Soluble fiber is great because it’s gentle and works for both IBS-C and IBS-D, regulating the bowels regardless of what extreme you’re dealing with.

One brand of soluble fiber I like and recommend is Heather’s Tummy Fiber. It’s been made specifically for IBS sufferers, and many of my clients love it. If you don’t have IBS, other fiber supplements made for constipation are a good option, too.

Of course, there are often other reasons why people experience occasional or chronic constipation. Those can be things like food allergies and intolerances, side effects of medication, unbalanced diet, other dietary or GI conditions, surgeries, or even hydration.

With any kind of constipation, it can be challenging to treat, and often done by trial and error. But if you have IBS, or suspect that it’s the source of your symptoms, then the FODMAP diet should be your first stop, because of how effective it can be at identifying those specific trigger foods.

The FODMAP Diet for Constipation

People hear the word ‘diet’ and think, ‘I’m going to be stuck eating three boring foods for the rest of my life! Maybe the symptoms are worth it, to keep enjoying the foods I love.’ I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case!

The FODMAP diet is an action plan to help you identify which specific trigger foods are worsening your symptoms, so you can avoid them. It’s a three-step plan that begins with a short period of eating a very low-FODMAP diet, for only four to six weeks.

If removing FODMAPS helps you feel better, then you know you are on the right track.

Next, foods are slowly reintroduced, and your symptoms are monitored. As soon as a culprit is identified, you know what it is that’s messing you up! After reintroduction and analysis, you can go on with eating a wide array of healthy foods in sensible portions, and avoiding the foods that cause you discomfort.

I have a ton more information about getting started on the FODMAP diet! You can check it out here.

What about some other, at-home things you can do?

Essential Oils for Constipation

The use of essential oils can work wonders for constipation. Ginger, Peppermint, Fennel, Lavender, and Chamomile are some of the top choices.

You can add them to a diffuser throughout the day, add them to a nice warm bath, or gently massage your stomach with them, after they’ve been diluted in a safe carrier oil. (Never apply essential oils directly to your skin!)

Osmotic Laxatives

Osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX are a great choice for constipation because they don’t cause harsh side effects like traditional laxatives do.

They work by drawing water into the colon and softening the hard stool there, making it much easier to pass. They can be a good choice for constipation, even as a result of IBS-C, but should also be paired with dietary changes overall, to prevent the stools from getting too hard.

Another option is Magnesium, which also draws water into the colon and intestines to soften the stools. Like MiraLAX, this softening allows the muscles of the digestive system to flex and move more naturally, passing the softened stool without pain or constriction.

Magnesium can be added to your diet by increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach, peanuts, oatmeal, potatoes, rice, and salmon. Or, you can take a Magnesium supplement; I prefer Magnesium Citrate, because of your body’s ability to absorb it easily, but other forms can work too.

The Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium—including food intake—is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.

Osmotic laxatives (or any laxative) should be reserved for occasional use, rather than an everyday go-to. Use them when symptoms are particularly bad, or you aren’t able to stick to your normal diet (think travel, illness, or times of high stress).

Conclusion

Constipation is frustrating, but you can make a difference with your symptoms through a few simple changes. Avoiding foods that cause constipation in the first place is key. The next step is trying additional remedies until you find the right mix that works for YOUR body.

If you aren’t sure whether your chronic constipation is caused by IBS or something else, a gastroenterologist should be your first stop to uncover the source of your symptoms.

If you want to know more, or if your head is spinning from a recent IBS diagnosis, then head over to my free 7-day Calm Belly Challenge. You’ll learn how to get started with the FODMAP Diet as quickly (and painlessly!) as possible.

This post contains affiliate links.

Top 4 Most Common Challenges of the FODMAP Diet (and how to overcome them)

Top 4 Most Common Challenges of the FODMAP Diet (and how to overcome them)

Read the top 4 most common challenges that come with the FODMAP Diet AND my best tips to overcome them. These tips haven’t just worked for me--they’ve helped hundreds of clients and community members to improve their IBS symptoms faster, and without the struggle.  

What to order at American Restaurants on the FODMAP Diet

Dining out when you're following the FODMAP Diet can be tricky. In this post, I'll give you tips and suggestions for the best things to order at American restaurants so you don't get IBS symptoms. Click through to read more AND to check out the other posts in the dining out series.

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestive Health (Right now!) on the FODMAP Diet

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestive Health (Right now!) on the FODMAP Diet

You might know about taking high-FODMAP foods out of your diet, but did you know there are strategies you can use to improve digestive health even MORE? Learn the top 5 surprising ways you can calm your belly FAST and feel better than before.

Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the FODMAP Elimination Phase

Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the FODMAP Elimination Phase

It’s not just about what you can and can’t eat. That’s important, but it’s only one piece of what you need to feel better as quickly as possible. To get the best results from the FODMAP Diet, you need a well-rounded approach AND a plan to follow.

Your 4-Step Plan for Life After the FODMAP Diet

 You've learned your IBS triggers, but what should you actually eat for the rest of your life? Click through to get the simple 4-step plan to design a lifetime eating style that keeps your belly calm and you feeling your healthiest ever.

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Doing all the phases of the FODMAP Diet usually looks something like this:

  • You learn about the FODMAP Diet (the short-term learning diet that helps you find your unique IBS triggers and control your symptoms) and start changing the way you eat
  • You eventually get the hang of it, and your IBS symptoms improve
  • You test high-FODMAP categories to find your personal tolerance levels
  • Along the way, you learn a ton of valuable information about all the things that affect your digestion (both food and non-food factors)
  • You’re more empowered when it comes to IBS than you’ve ever been.

This is awesome. But where do you go from here?

How do you know you’ve been successful? When are you actually finished?

The end goal of the FODMAP Diet is rarely explained. If it’s not supposed to be a lifetime diet, what should you be eating for the rest of your life?

Short answer: You should bring as many high-FODMAP foods back into your diet as you can while keeping your belly happy.

This is “your unique lifetime eating style.” It’s unique to your FODMAP tolerance levels (based on testing those various FODMAP categories) AND what you enjoy eating. For example:

  • You may want to move toward a plant-based diet
  • You might want your diet to fuel you for a fitness goal, like running a marathon
  • You might want to get back to the family recipes and comfort foods you love, but modified to keep your belly happy

Today, I want to give you a simple framework to go from, “What’s next after to FODMAP,” to a lifetime eating style you love.

Your 4-Step Plan for Life After FODMAP

Step 1: Figure out our tolerance for all the high-FODMAP foods you’ve been missing    

Testing each FODMAP category through the reintroduction process helps you determine your tolerance level for ALL the foods in that category, but how much should you eat?

Go through the Monash app. List out the high-FODMAP foods you can bring back into your diet and an estimated serving size based on your tolerance for that food’s category.

If you had a moderate tolerance for wheat and want to eat rye bread, start with one slice. If you have no issues, you might try two slices next time. 

Do this with all the foods you love. You can take a casual approach, or add one new thing every other day. Soon, you’ll know the portion sizes that work, and you can start enjoying them regularly.

Step 2: Experiment with frequency

Now that you’ve brought back the foods that don’t trigger your IBS, it’s useful to understand how many high-FODMAP foods you can tolerate in a day or in single meal.

Do some experiments. If you have a moderate tolerance for wheat, can you eat toast at breakfast, half a sandwich at lunch, and a serving of pasta for dinner?

Step 3: Revisit other factors that impact digestion

At this point you’re regularly enjoying high-FODMAP foods in the amounts you can tolerate. If your IBS symptoms are fully in check, fabulous! If you have symptoms more than you’d like and can’t link them to a specific food, then take a look at other things that impact digestion.

For example, have you started eating larger portions? Are you skipping meals or eating late at night? Have you stopped exercising or moving as much throughout the day? Have you started a new medication or supplement that might be causing side effects?

Step 4: Take on a new health goal 

The FODMAP Diet tends to be all encompassing. Giving it your focus likely helped you succeed, but that probably forced you to put everything else on the back burner. 

The momentum you’ve built by taking control of IBS puts you in the perfect position to tackle a health goal you’ve put on hold for months, maybe even years.

Do you want to finally get to your happy weight? Kick sugar? Go vegetarian? Keep refining your lifetime eating style? Now's the time to go for it!

If you're ready to create your lifetime eating style or tackle a NEW health goal ASAP, let me save you time with my group program Free To Eat. You'll get the support and guidance you need to stop stressing over every bite and START enjoying food again.

 

FODMAP Diet Plan for Vegetarians and Vegans

 You know the FODMAP diet can relieve your IBS, but what the heck will you eat as a vegan or vegetarian?! Click through to get my plan for getting started and creating meals you'll enjoy (you won't be stuck eating the same 3 things forever, I promise!).

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If you're a vegetarian or vegan who just learned about the FODMAP Diet (the diet that shows you how to manage IBS symptoms), you might be freaking out right about now.

Why? The FODMAP Diet requires that you eliminate most legumes, a huge variety of fruit and vegetables, not to mention wheat and certain nuts. So what's left for you if eating meat isn't really your style?

Never fear, veggie lovers, this post is your getting started guide. You'll learn:

  1. What to do first
  2. How to create delicious meals with variety so you don't die of boredom
  3. The best (meatless) protein options

Watch the video get all the tasty details, or keep reading for the key points (and a bunch of great resources!)...

 

Getting Started with FODMAP as a Vegetarian or Vegan

What To Do First

Here's my general advice for approaching the FODMAP diet as a vegan or vegetarian: Instead of diving right in, spend a week or two learning the ins and outs of the diet. Get the Monash app (the most reliable, up-to-date reference) so you know the foods and serving sizes you should be eating.

>>> IF YOU DO JUST ONE THING: Go through the app and make a list of all the foods you CAN eat and then start building your meals around those. 

Meal Planning Without Boredom

When you're coming up with meal ideas, focus on meals you can play around with. That way, you can have a handful of different meals made with the same core ingredients to create a FODMAP meal plan that works for you.

For example, if you eat quinoa or brown rice, you can combine that with your choice of low-FODMAP veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, salad greens, bell peppers, carrots, etc. You can roast, saute, or steam them.

Then you can add olives, cheese, nuts, seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, tempeh, avocado, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, hot sauce if that's your thing. Just check your serving sizes, and you'll discover more variety than you think!

>>> TIP: Small amounts of canned lentils and chickpeas, as well as red lentils, are low-FODMAP. Check the Monash app so you're sticking to the correct serving size (too large a serving and you cross over into the high-FODMAP range). You can eat these legumes more than once a day - just space them about 3 to 4 hours apart.

Use different herbs and spices to create different flavor profiles. For example, you can have a curry bowl one day and a Mexican-style bowl (avocado, ancho chile powder, cilantro) the next day.

Think about soups you can create with this method. Gluten free pasta and risotto are two more foods that can be prepared with different ingredients every time.

Your Top Protein Options:

You could probably guess this one: tofu and tempeh. Soft, firm and extra firm tofu are low-FODMAP.

Silken tofu is processed differently and retains some of the liquid from the pressed soybeans where those FODMAPs are found, so avoid the silken variety.

With tempeh you're in the clear. Although it's made from whole soybeans, the fermentation process reduces FODMAP content. Just be sure to check the ingredients if you're buying tempeh that's already seasoned. The best bet is to buy it plain and dress it up yourself. Tempeh contains even more protein than tofu.

Cooking tempeh and tofu:

  • Tempeh has great earthy flavor on it's own, but you can dress it up any way you like. I usually cut it into cubes and sear it in a pan with with a little stir fry sauce made with tamari, lime and sugar.
  • When it comes to tofu, try baking it. It gives it a satisfying texture, and you can do a big batch to use for several days. Here are some recipe ideas and cooking instructions for both:

Get to Know Tempeh

Recipe: Tempeh with Charred Peppers and Kale
-Omit onion; add more bell pepper or carrot if desired; add scallion tops

Calm Belly Kitchen: Brown Rice Noodle and Veggie Stir Fry
-Replace Shrimp with Tempeh

Monash Blog: Tofu Scramble Recipe

How to Make Baked Tofu

Remember This, Veggie Lovers!

Finally, remember that it's temporary. You do the elimination phase to confirm your FODMAP sensitivity. Then if it does improve your symptoms, you slowly bring back high-FODMAP foods. You'll learn your tolerance levels so you can have a lot more variety and flexibility in your diet.

More FODMAP Diet Plan Resources for Vegetarians and Vegans

http://thefodmapfriendlyvegan.com/product/fodmap-friendly-vegan-ebook/

https://www.amazon.com/Low-Fodmap-Vegan-What-When-Anything/dp/1570673373/

A very helpful resource for vegan menu planning I found through Kate Scarlata's website: http://blog.katescarlata.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Vegan-Menu-Planning-Low-FODMAP.pdf

I do have one vegan recipe on my website, and I love it. It's great as leftovers too: https://calmbellykitchen.com/blog/vegan-nut-loaf-low-fodmap-gluten-free

More meal and recipe ideas:

Monash Blog: Eating Vegan on a Low-FODMAP Diet

Meat Free Meals the Low-FODMAP Way by Stephanie Clairmont, RD

 

Why Less FODMAPs = Less IBS Symptoms Is Wrong (Also, pizza!)

 When someone asked me a question about low FODMAP pizza, I realized that no one ever talks about life after the FODMAP Diet. It's not about avoiding ever potential problem food; it's about finding your unique IBS triggers so you can have more freedom and get back to enjoying food again. Click through to get the free Test Food Tracker to help you find your triggers.

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During a group coaching session recently, one of my awesome clients asked if I had a great low-FODMAP pizza recipe that wouldn't trigger her IBS symptoms. I said no because I only use ONE recipe: my favorite classic, chewy-crispy, stone-fired pizza dough.

“So what gluten-free flour do you use?” Another client asked.

When I clarified that I use regular all-purpose wheat flour for my pizza, minds were blown.

In that moment a light-bulb went on in my head: No one talks about life AFTER the FODMAP Diet. 

You might not know you can bring certain high-FODMAP foods back into your life because nobody bothered to explain it.

You might know about avoiding high-FODMAP food and testing FODMAPs (i.e. the Reintroduction Phase), but what about the end goal of this process?

To put it plainly, less FODMAPs = less IBS symptoms isn’t the full story. The end goal is to eat some pizza, or crisp apples, or ice cream - or whatever food you’ve loved and lost!

The end goal isn’t to restrict all high-FODMAP foods forever. The goal is learning your unique triggers for your IBS symptoms.

When you know your personal triggers and tolerance levels, you can... 

  • Bring back high-FODMAP foods that don’t cause your stomach issues
  • Know what portions of high-FODMAP foods trigger your symptoms, and eat smaller amounts of those
  • Stop avoiding “natural flavors” in foods that might have a tiny amount of onion or garlic
  • Go to restaurants and not shy away from every bit of wheat and lactose on the menu
  • Choose what you’ll eat based on solid knowledge of how food affects your body, instead of guessing and fearing the consequences

For me, this means my favorite pizza is back in my life - I learned wheat doesn’t trigger my IBS symptoms. Here’s what it means for some of my clients…


Testing FODMAPs and learning their personal triggers is how these ladies went from anxiety and restriction to having fun eating again.

And it doesn’t take tons of time or willpower to test FODMAPs. The key is to create your testing plan, set a date, and track your results.

In case you missed it, I designed a tool to make this quick and simple. Click here to get the FREE Reintro Checklist and Tracker for the FODMAP Challenge Phase!

Avoiding every high-FODMAP food 24/7 is good when you use it for a purpose: Learning about your body and giving it a clean slate. Kind of like hitting the reset button.

But if you’re doing it with no purpose or end goal, you’re depriving yourself of a huge variety of food when it’s not necessary.

Going through the process and testing the different FODMAP categories is worth it because of what you get in the end: You know what triggers your IBS and what doesn’t so you’re free to eat without fear.

It can feel like discovering the FODMAP diet is what changes your life, but it’s not. 

Knowing your triggers is what changes your life - It breaks you out of food jail and leads you to freedom. And if freedom looks like pizza to you, you owe it to yourself to find out.

Leave a comment and tell me what you want your life to look like after FODMAP! Is the thought of eating high-FODMAP foods again blowing your mind? (and if you just want my pizza recipe, don’t hesitate to ask!)

You’re Missing Out on Delicious Food (here’s how to enjoy eating - even with IBS)

You’re Missing Out on Delicious Food (here’s how to enjoy eating - even with IBS)

  With the FREE Test Food Tracker, you’ll have the #1 tool you need to test FODMAPs and learn your unique IBS triggers.   Imagine going to a restaurant and NOT experiencing that sinking feeling of anxiety as you read the menu. Click through and sign up to get the Free Tracker instantly! www.calmbellykitchen.com

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When you take away high-FODMAP foods and get relief from your IBS symptoms, it feels pretty amazing.

You work hard to eliminate every possible FODMAP ingredient from your plate so you can keep feeling good. 

You avoid going to restaurants whenever possible and turn down social meals.

You’re good at planning and cooking your own food, but the effort is exhausting and you wish you could just pick up pizza once in awhile.

It seems like you can count your “safe” foods on two hands, and stressing over every bite is wearing you down (or making you want to binge on Mexican).

Right now you’re missing out on delicious food, and you don’t need to be.

There’s a way out of this lonely, hungry place and it’s all about finding your unique IBS triggers.  

I’m here to tell you finding your triggers isn’t as difficult as you might think. It’s even a little fun, especially with this handy tool I created to help you along the way!

 

Ready to challenge and reintroduce high-FODMAP foods?

Click to get your FREE Reintroduction Checklist!

Why Test High-FODMAP Foods?

You need to test FODMAPs for three reasons:

  1. Right now you know you’re sensitive to FODMAPs, but you don’t know which ones
  2. There’s a very good chance you can eat some high-FODMAP foods and still keep your symptoms in check - one study found only 33% of people with IBS are sensitive to fructose
  3. You’ll be able to have much more variety in your diet which is important for gut health...but also important for living life and enjoying eating again

Who Should Test FODMAPs?

You're ready to start the testing process (a.k.a. the Reintroduction Phase) if…

  • You saw an improvement in your symptoms when you eliminated FODMAPS
  • You discovered the other factors that contribute to your IBS symptoms (stress, sleep, hormones, etc.) during the elimination process - and learned how to handle them

If those statements describe you, you’re ready to bring back FODMAPs and learn your unique triggers!

Through the Elimination Phase you gave your body a clean slate. Now it’s time to learn what FODMAPs are the culprits for YOU specifically - and which ones can be part of your life again. 

The #1 Tool You Need to Test FODMAPs

When I coach people through FODMAP testing, we approach it like an experiment - You’re collecting data about your body in an organized process. 

In the end, you use all this awesome info to create your unique lifetime eating style so you can stop policing every bite and start enjoying food again.

Having a simple tool to track your food testing results is essential. Why? 

  • It lets you see patterns in how your body reacts to different FODMAPs. 
  • It clearly shows you how long it takes for symptoms to pop up - many people notice that it takes 1 to 2 days. This info is gold!

For every FODMAP category you test, you’ll start with a very small serving (so you’re never blindsided by major symptoms) and work your way up to a large serving.

As you go through the process you need to track the following:

  1. The test food and its FODMAP category
  2. Serving size
  3. Any symptoms you experience up to 48 hours (depending on your body) after testing 

You already know that FODMAP testing is the way to more food freedom - but it can be overwhelming, so I created a free Test Food Tracker that you can download and get started as soon as today!

It’s the same tool I use in my coaching program Free To Eat.

This Tracker is a workbook that you can fill out on your computer (just save it to your device and you’ll be able to type into it), or print it out and write on it!

As an extra bonus, I added a cover page that helps you design your personalized testing plan. There’s also a place to fill in your start date - Put it on your calendar and commit to it. 

Remember, it’s not healthy (for your body or your social life) to stay in a strict elimination diet for more than a few weeks. More importantly, it’s not necessary!

Download the free Test Food Tracker and start planning. If I’d never learned my unique IBS triggers, I wouldn’t have known it was okay to eat my favorite pizza dough again - wheat is NOT one of my trigger foods.

Having more freedom and less stress in my diet was totally worth the effort, and that’s what I want for you too!

 

3 Ways To Deal with IBS Constipation (and 1 thing not to do)

 Eating a low FODMAP diet may not be enough to manage constipation when you have IBS. Luckily there lots of strategies that really work to manage constipation so you can feel great, beat the bloat and have calm belly life. Click through to read the post and watch the video!

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When it comes to managing IBS symptoms, smart eating is your first line of defense. Doing the low-FODMAP Diet is an amazing way to learn what foods trigger your symptoms AND what portion sizes keep your belly calm.

But sometimes supporting strategies are needed, which is why I'm doing a 3-part series on Calm Belly TV to help you deal with the 3 major symptoms of IBS: 

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloating

Fun topics, right!? Okay, they may not be fun, but there's a lot you can do to deal with these symptoms besides just watching your intake of high-FODMAP foods. That's what I'll be covering in the series. 

[Want to learn more about the FODMAP Diet and why it's so effective for IBS? Check out this blog post!]

Check out the rest of this series:

Want to get even more support from people who know what you're going through? Click here and request to join the Calm Belly Kitchen Crew, our private Facebook group!

Now onto Part 1 of the series:

3 Ways to Deal with IBS Constipation (and 1 thing not to do)

Watch the video to go deep on this topic, or keep reading to get the main points.

Just the key points:

First thing's first: Calm Belly Kitchen is an educational resource and doesn't replace personalized medical advice. Check with a doctor before starting any new dietary treatment or supplement.

Let's recap: A low-FODMAP diet can help decrease constipation a lot, but additional treatments and strategies are often needed.

Why? FODMAPs are one of the major causes of IBS symptoms, but many other factors play a role in your digestion:

- The food you eat (fiber, fat, etc)
- Your hormones
- Bowel motility (how fast food goes through your system)
- Life stress 

In my experience and in my work with clients, I've seen that learning your personal trigger foods makes a huge difference. Still most people need supporting strategies to deal with constipation.

3 Strategies to Manage IBS Constipation with Diet

1) The food you DO eat is important, so include a variety of fiber: 

  • Insoluble fiber: Adds bulk, pushes stool through the bowels; found in fruit and vegetable skins and whole grains 
  • Soluble fiber: Softens stool; found in fruit, veg, legumes, nuts and seeds (flax and chia are especially good for constipation)
  • Resistant starch: Feeds the good bacteria in your gut with prebiotic fiber; found in under-ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, and legumes (canned, rinsed lentils and chickpeas are great low-FODMAP options)

>>> Water: Acts as a stool softener; important if you're taking soluble fiber products such as Metamucil

2) Fiber supplements

  • Metamucil and similar products contain soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Ground psyllium contains soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Heather's Acacia Fiber contains only soluble fiber, which is thought to promote optimal bowel motility >>> works for both constipation AND diarrhea

3) Magnesium Citrate

  • Helps relax bowel spasms so it does not cause a sense of urgency unless you take a very large does 
  • Has a gentle osmotic effect...so it pulls water into the bowel, softening stool so it's easier to pass
  • Recommended not to exceed 900 mg/day
  • Experiment to find a dosage that works for you
  • Non-addictive

Solaray tablets and Natural Calm drink mix are two good options.

One Thing NOT To Do To Manage Constipation

Stimulant Laxatives (such as ExLax)

  • Only use for a limited time and exactly as directed
  • Stimulant laxatives are addictive because they reduce your natural bowel contractions and train your body to be dependent on their irritant effect 
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration

Be sure to join the CBK Facebook group so you get reminders before each episode of Calm Belly TV!