Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Constipation

What should I eat and drink if I’m constipated?

Eat enough fiber. Drink plenty of liquids to help the fiber work better.

Fiber

Depending on your age and sex, adults should get 25 to 31 grams of fiber a day.4 Older adults sometimes don’t get enough fiber because they may lose interest in food.

Talk with a health care professional, such as a dietitian, to plan meals with the right amount of fiber for you. Be sure to add fiber to your diet a little at a time so your body gets used to the change.

Good sources of fiber are

  • whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, and bran flake cereals
  • legumes, such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans, and chickpeas
  • fruits, such as berries, apples with the skin on, oranges, and pears
  • vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, green peas, and collard greens
  • nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and pecans

Plenty of water

You should drink water and other liquids, such as naturally sweetened fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups, to help the fiber work better. This change should make your stools softer and easier to pass.

Drinking enough water and other liquids is also a good way to avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated is good for your overall health and can help you avoid getting constipated. Ask a health care professional how much liquid you should drink each day based on your size, health, activity level, and where you live.

An older man eating a meal.
Talk with a health care professional to plan meals with the right amount of fiber for you.

What should I avoid eating or drinking if I’m constipated?

To help prevent or relieve constipation, avoid foods with little to no fiber, such as

  • chips
  • fast food
  • meat
  • prepared foods, such as some frozen meals and snack foods
  • processed foods, such as hot dogs or some microwavable dinners

References

May 2018
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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. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.