A change in diet could be your cure for constipation

My 2-year-old daughter, like many other young children, dealt with constipation issues for quite some time. I know it is a lovely subject to address…but there is no denying the fact that what comes out of you is a good indicator of the health of your body.

My recent motivation to cut out processed foods started because I thought it was the right thing to do. Never did I expect such a drastic and sudden change in my daughter. She used to have such problems with constipation that she would only have one bowel movement, on average, every other day. Sometimes even three or four days would go by, and sometimes it would take less time. And this was after giving her a tall glass of prune juice every morning (that for some reason she would drink willingly).

Now I am the first to admit that my one child is an extremely small sample size, but the change in her was so dramatic – from night to day – that I am still in shock about it. This change in particular is a big part of why I became so convinced about our change in diet and felt compelled to share it with others through this blog. Within the first week of cutting out the majority of our processed foods my daughter’s constipation problems were seriously 100% gone. She went from a bowel movement once every few days to having them twice a day – every day – and sometimes even three times a day. Again, I know this is an embarrassing topic for some, but as a mother these are the things we must concern ourselves with (and the things we celebrate when they are going well)!

The main reason I was so shocked about this drastic change was because I thought we were fairly healthy eaters before. Granted my daughter was somewhat picky, but she was my wheat bread child (wheat bread from the grocery store aisle that is). And, in addition to her bread choice, I always tried to serve her at least one fruit or vegetable (that I knew she would like) at each meal. I was not in the habit of making her a separate kid-friendly dinner every night. For the most part, I thought I was making smart and “healthy” choices for my family (at least in a processed food world). And if this change could have such a considerable and immediate impact on her I can’t imagine what underlying benefits it has given the rest of us.

As I mentioned, many other small children experience similar issues with constipation. I know a lot of those kids can’t manage it just by drinking prune juice and instead have been prescribed medicines like MiraLAX. I can’t help but wonder how many of those doctors suggested trying a drastic change in diet before writing the prescription? I am by no means a medical expert of any sort, but I do like the call it like I see it. You decide.

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23 thoughts on “A change in diet could be your cure for constipation”

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  1. My daughter’s debilitating constipation was caused by, of all things, apples! We put her on a salicylate, artificial color and flavor, and preservative free diet for ADHD and within 2 days, to our complete surprise, the constipation eased up. In less than a week it was gone. Completely gone. When we started adding back items, one at a time, she asked for apple juice (her absolute favorite) and within an hour the ADHD behavior kicked in and by the next afternoon the constipation was back. She was 6 when we discovered this, and had suffered for 5 years. She is now 42 and won’t go near anything with apples. It’s hard, because apples, apple juice and apple pectin is hidden in so many foods.

  2. One of my 4 1/2 yr old triplets continues to struggle with constipation ever since stopping breast feeding. We don’t eat processed foods, I cook all meals very clean, push p fruits daily, 2 probiotics/day and I just cut out diary and we’re still having issues. She won’t eat the constipation candy. I’ve tried multiple flavors and times. I don’t want to use miralax. She accidently poops 2-3 times a day but it is so little. Any more advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

  3. my youngest had a serious problem with constipation. We accidentally found the cure when we gave him skim milk for 2 days rather than whole milk. Problem solved never to come back again.

  4. Both of my boys have had problems with constipation, my oldest even ended up at a pediatric G.I. We were told over and over it was normal and to use Miralax and other fiber supplements daily, but I couldn’t accept giving him medicine daily at such a young age. We made the switch to whole grains, never realizing just how processed the “healthy” things you buy at the store were. The constipation got better, but still comes back at times. Now, after reading through your website, I understand why. I had such a hard time finding useful information when this all started, I am so glad I have found you. I will absolutely add your ideas to what I have been doing to feed my family even better. I loved your advise on reading labels; if it is an ingredient you don’t add to food when you cook or can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Perhaps you could repost this subject on your Facebook page and help make others aware.

  5. When my son was around an older infant/toddler he had a lot of problems with constipation. Even though he was still nursing, he would only eat bread and cheese. Other foods literally made him gag. His dr. prescribed miralax and it helped him until he gradually started eating fresh fruit (he’s 8 years old and still hasn’t found a veggie he likes even though he will try them from time to time). He hasn’t been on any medication since he was a toddler and still doesn’t “go” often, even though we’ve made the switch to real food. We just keep offering him a variety of things and hope he continues to gradually add to his list of acceptable foods. Our other son will eat almost anything and it amazes me the difference in their tastes!

  6. My oldest has had constipation issues since birth…he had intestinal surgery at 2 days old to repair a blockage..the whole food diet has definetly makes difference ..we usex to give prunes in oatmeal daily and miralax almost daily we also give him a specially formulated vitamin & enzymes to help him break down fruits/veggies..meats and dairy..he takes it in a probiotic yogurt drink and since our whole foods switch we rarely havd to use prunes and almost never have to use miralax (recommended by his intestinal surgeon) ….its so nice to not have to worry about it!

  7. I recently read an article in the Huffington Post by a pediatric urologist, Dr. Hodges, where he describes chronic constipation as a growing national problem. A diet low in fiber was one of the reasons, as was a lack of physical activity, both of which I already knew. The reason that most surprised me was that a child who is constantly “holding it in” can have terrible constipation problems, even if they are pooping daily. I found the website for the book if you want to read more. http://itsnoaccident.net/
    After reading the whole article I realized this is exactly what happened to my niece and she had major bowel problems until she was finally properly diagnosed and treated at age 9! So while diet is a part of the problem it is important to realize it might not be all of it. Chronic UTI’s, chronic bedwetting, lots of “potty accidents” can all be the fault of this hidden kind of constipation. I had no idea!

  8. This is something I am struggling with in my 6 yo son. I suppose he was constipated when he was younger, and I didn’t notice somehow! However, he has developed a soiling issue called encropresis caused from severe constipation. I just realized this was a medical issue for him a few months ago and not a potty training or laziness issue. We eat what I feel is healthy and minimize processed foods, but we have not completely switched over. However, doctors do address diet and say to cut out constipating foods. We were also given glycerine suppositories to use if needed, which we’ve tried not to use so far. We’ve been trying to cut out bananas and lots of dairy and add more fiber, greens, and applesauce to his diet, but I can’t bear to cut out his peanut butter as recommended. I feel that the dairy, yogurt and pb is where he was getting a lot of his protein during the day as we eat most of our meat and other sources at dinnertime. I notice your family does eat a lot of dairy, yet you still noticed a difference. I am considering taking the challenge soon to see if it helps. We’re at the point where I am about to request a laxative from his doctor until he becomes more regular because the soiling is so frustrating. I’d appreciate any feedback you have, and I will let you know in a few months if I notice a tremendous difference from cutting back more of our processed foods.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I believe that constipation is very much related to diet, and I personally do not buy avoiding bananas and other whole foods. Just take the 10-day pledge and see what happens…it’s the only way to know for sure if it will help your son and get him off meds. The change in my daughter was very dramatic and happened within a couple days. Good luck!

      1. I’ve recently discovered your blog and have been a junkie ever since. I can’t stop reading. I’ve not gone totally no processed (I had root beer milk and sugarless gum, I didn’t even think about the gum until it was already in my mouth) but in the last 3 days that I’ve been working on it I noticed more regularity. I love that you have so many recipes. I made whole wheat mac n cheese and loved it, this weekend I’m having my parents over for dinner of no processed food. I can’t wait! Also, I sent my husband grocery shopping today for real food, he called more than once for some help but I’m glad he’s willing to try. I’ll just need to read more tips for when he’s on the road. Thanks for the great reading material!

  9. We had a similar experience with one of our daughters when she was younger. But, when we started eating at least one serving of plain yogurt with a bit of honey each day…no more issues. We do get real yogurt with live cultures. That really seems to help.

  10. Hi
    I aplaude your switch to cooking with fresh food instead of processed food. But as a mother of a child who has struggled with severe severe constipation for the last 5 years I want to just issue a little warning. Sometimes, the diet is not the only answer. 5 years ago we started the food diary and started to only shop around the edges of the market…produce, meat and dairy. Still no relief. Sometimes the issues lie with the “plumbing”. Miralax is not the evil bad guy. Sometimes it takes a change in diet in conjunction with the right dose of miralax to provide some relief.

  11. In this great scheme of things you’ll get a B+ for effort and hard work. Where exactly you lost everybody ended up being in your particulars. You know, people say, the devil is in the details… And it could not be more true at this point. Having said that, permit me say to you precisely what did work. The authoring is definitely quite engaging which is probably the reason why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Second, while I can notice a leaps in reason you make, I am not sure of exactly how you appear to connect the ideas which help to make the actual conclusion. For the moment I shall yield to your issue however wish in the foreseeable future you connect your facts much better.

  12. Hi – I just found your website last week, and have started at the beginning, reading each post. My son has a problem with constipation too and the doctor suggested Miralax. I am gathering your recipes, and am trying to make the switch to a more “whole” way of eating for the entire family. My goal is to get him off the Miralax and correct his problem with a healthy diet. Thanks for all the time you have put in to your site, it really is informative and fun to read.

  13. My 19 month old is struggling with constipation. It’s so bad for him that when he does have a bm, it’s painful and he even bleeds. The pediatrician recommended miralax, but I’ve also decided to completely cut out processed foods. We just started yesterday, but already I can see a difference in how we all feel. I am pouring through your blog and love it!

  14. Thanks for bringing up this awkward but important topic! I suddenly began struggling with constipation and after two years, have begun working the doctor circuit. Amazingly enough, they are all pushing medications and NOT changing my diet. When I brought up changing my diet to improve things, I was told not to bother! Thanks for positing such positive results!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Isn’t that just amazing how the dr.’s suggest drugs instead of something as easy as changing your diet?!? Seriously, what goes in must come out… obviously there is a correlation! Good luck!

  15. Any chance you could give specifics on what you are feeding your family? I’m curious to see a full day of menus, if you wouldn’t mind. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I can definitely put something together that shows what we are eating for a few day or week-long period. Be on the look out!