Almost everyone at one time or another has experienced constipation but there is a difference between occasional and chronic constipation. Chronic constipation means that you are continually having 3 or less bowel movement(s) per week. They are hard and dry and may even be painful to pass. There are many things you can do to get more regular. Proper hydration as well as fiber and regular exercise can help keep things moving.
Drinking 48-64+ ounces of fluid from water and other non-caffeinated, calorie free liquids each day is adequate for most people, however if your mouth and lips feel dry, if you feel fatigued or have a headache, you may be dehydrated and therefore should increase your fluid intake. To maintain hydration, keep fluid with you at all times and continually sip on it throughout the day.
Fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables and from fiber supplements will help you maintain regularity. The recommendation for older children, adolescents, and adults is 20 – 35 grams per day. After weight loss surgery with your reduced portion sizes and decreased meal frequency, it may be challenging for you to be able to eat that much fiber. Some suggestions for increasing the fiber in your diet are:
- 100% whole wheat breads (toasted) and crackers
- High fiber cereals – 5 or more grams of fiber per serving such as bran flakes
- Beans, lentils and split peas
- Whole fruits and vegetables (not juice)
If you decide to add a fiber supplement, consider your options. Fiber supplements come in many different forms. You may choose capsule or pill form, chewable tablets and wafers, and powders. Other things to consider when choosing a fiber supplement:
- Grams of fiber per serving – some products are higher in fiber therefore you will need to take less.
- Calories per serving – most wafers are higher in calories than capsules, tablets and powders.
- Does it thicken? Avoid powder fiber supplements that thicken once it is mixed with a fluid as you never want to be in a rush or drink more than you should at one time.
- Are there any added benefits to my fiber supplement? For example, if a fiber supplement is made from flax, you not only get the fiber but you are also getting omega-3 fatty acids.