Diane May Nutrition Blog

What To Do When You Can’t Poo

August 13th, 2016

Going to the bathroom is an important aspect of health and detoxification, yet it is a topic people rarely like to discuss due to embarrassment, even with their primary care physician.  It is very important to pay attention to regular bowel habits.  But everyone experiences constipation at some point or another.  There are things to do to help keep yourself regular, and if you run into a bout of constipation, things that can help to alleviate it.  Everyone has a different idea of how frequently they should go to the bathroom.  It is normal to go anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. Age, stage of life, diet an physical activity all play a role. It is just important to know your own pattern and when there are changes. There are many reasons for constipation, such as poor diet, IBS, dehydration, diabetes, neurological disorders, depression, thyroid issues and many more.  It is also important to know that certain medications can cause constipation such as iron supplements, anti acids, blood pressure, seizure and depression medications.  Narcotics will cause constipation-but it is called  opioid induced constipation and there are specific medications used to alleviate this form of constipation.  The longer a bowel movement sits in your intestines, the harder it will become to pass, so never wait when you have to go. There are certain foods that can increase constipation such as cheese, high fat foods, processed foods, meats, chips and prepared foods such as frozen meals.

So what are things you can do to keep your bowels moving?

  • Make sure you consume enough fiber. We should be having between 22-36 grams of fiber daily. Mix it up and have a large variety of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Make sure as you increase fiber you increase water! Fiber from food is always better and has greater variety than a fiber supplement.
  • Stay well hydrated. Shoot for eight, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. Put a reminder in your phone to drink and keep a thermos with you so you can sip throughout the day. Add lemon, mint, ginger or other fun flavors if you can’t get excited over plain water.
  • Move your body. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve gut motility, just one more reason to exercise! Try and make physical activity an everyday part of your routine.
  • Take a probiotic.  Keeping your gut healthy and happy can assist with regularity.  I recommend Culturelle or Align for basic regularity.
  • Go when you need to go.  Never hold it in or try and wait to go to the bathroom. You can do more harm than good when you wait too long.
  • Do not become dependent on laxatives.  There are many products such as senna tea, other natural supplements and OTC products that tout creating bowel regularity.  If you use these products, which usually contain stimulants, too frequently, your body will become dependent on them and you will lose the ability to go on your own.  When occasional constipation strikes and diet alone is not working, try an osmotic laxative such as Miralax or Milk of Magnesia for short term use only. If your stool is hard (a sign of dehydration), you can try a product called Colace to soften the stool and make it easier to pass.

If you experience long term constipation, it is always important to check in with your doctor to make sure nothing more serious is going on.  Prescription medications may be necessary to support you. You should also pay attention to your diet. Foods can impact constipation and an RD can help you figure out a diet to help make constipation less of a struggle in your everyday life.  The bottom line-speak up if you cant poop!

Lemony Lentil Salad with Salmon

EatingWell Magazine Summer 2004



Ingredients                                                                               6 servings

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup diced seedless cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 15-ounce cans lentils, rinsed, or 3 cups cooked brown or green lentils (see Tip)
  • 2 7-ounce cans salmon , drained and flaked, or 1 1/2 cups flaked cooked salmon
  • Active 30 min

  • Ready In 30 min

  1. Whisk lemon juice, dill, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add bell pepper, cucumber, onion, lentils and salmon; toss to coat.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
  • Tip: To cook lentils: Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes for green lentils and 30 minutes for brown. Drain and rinse under cold water.



Nutrition information


  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Per serving: 354 calories; 18 g fat(3 g sat); 9 g fiber; 24 g carbohydrates; 24 g protein; 203 mcg folate; 31 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 812 IU vitamin A; 34 mg vitamin C; 198 mg calcium; 4 mg iron; 194 mg sodium; 742 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
  • Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 2 1/2 fat