Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Fecal Incontinence

How can my diet help prevent or relieve fecal incontinence?

Depending on the cause, changing what you eat and drink can help prevent or relieve your fecal incontinence.

What should I eat if I have fecal incontinence?

You should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Your doctor or a dietitian can recommend a healthy eating plan that is right for you.

If your fecal incontinence is caused by constipation or hemorrhoids, eating more fiber and drinking more liquids can improve your symptoms. Talk with your doctor or a dietitian about how much fiber and liquids are right for you.

Healthy foods representing a well-balanced diet.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you prevent or relieve your fecal incontinence.

What should I avoid eating if I have fecal incontinence?

If your fecal incontinence is caused by diarrhea, you should avoid foods that make your symptoms worse, such as

  • alcoholic beverages
  • drinks and foods containing caffeine
  • dairy products such as milk, cheese, and ice cream
  • fatty and greasy foods
  • drinks and foods containing fructose
  • fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears
  • spicy foods
  • products, including candy and gum, with sweeteners ending in “–ol,” such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol

Keeping a food diary

Your doctor or dietitian may recommend keeping a food diary, which can help you find out which foods and drinks make your symptoms better or worse. After a few days, the diary may show a link between certain foods and drinks and your fecal incontinence. Changing the foods and drinks linked to your fecal incontinence may improve your symptoms.

Last Reviewed July 2017
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
William E. Whitehead, Ph.D., University of North Carolina School of Medicine