Eating When You Have Constipation


During treatment, your eating habits may change and you may be less physically active. You also may feel weak, in pain, and uncomfortable. All of these factors can cause constipation (less frequent bowel movements with stools that are difficult to pass). Not drinking enough liquids and not eating enough also can be part of the cause of constipation. In addition, constipation can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medications. Learn more about the causes of constipation and medicines that can help.

Talk to your doctors about any bowel movements that are hard or very loose, or if you have cramps, stomach pain, gas, or no bowel movements for 3 days.

What to eat if you're constipated:

  • Avoid foods that may lead to constipation. Some common ones are bananas, cheese, and eggs. Different foods affect people differently.
  • Drink more fluids to prevent dehydration — about 8 to 12 glasses each day (unless your doctor has advised something else). Consider water, prune juice, and warm fluids in the morning such as herbal tea or hot lemonade.
  • Eat more high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, fresh raw vegetables, fresh raw fruits or cooked fruits with the peel on, dried fruits, dates, apricots, prunes, popcorn, seeds, and nuts. Fiber isn't digested by the body, so it moves through and is excreted. Fiber also absorbs a lot of water in the bowels, which makes stools softer and easier to pass. Make sure you drink more fluids if you eat more fiber, or your constipation might become worse.
  • Make sure your breakfast includes high-fiber foods and a hot drink. Warm beverages are calming and may help stimulate bowel movement.
  • Drink caffeine in moderation. It has been shown to help constipation. Make sure that you drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages, too, so you don't become dehydrated.

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