Here we go Green Gurneys Tribe! Let’s go bravely and boldly into talking about this TMI topic – constipation. After so many years of digestive distress related to autoimmunity I am not shy about it. I have spent plenty of days with a bloated belly looking like I stuffed a basketball up my shirt, desperately praying for relief.
Immunity really begins with the gut. When the digestive system is struggling because of poor diet, or damage from medication, autoimmunity flare ups begin to cause a whole host of issues. In my teens and twenties this was my life. Cleaning up my diet was the first step! I removed dairy first, stopped eating gluten and soy the following year, and continued over the years to strip down my diet to the cleanest essentials I could find. Read more about My Safe Foods List here. Committing to a super clean diet dramatically changed my digestion for the better.
Along this journey SIBO, A bacteria overgrowth, started to take route in my digestive system making constipation and bloating a regular battle. To learn more about SIBO read Part 1 and Part 2 of my SIBO experience. Healing from SIBO meant following a low carb, no sugar diet. It is closely related to a clean KETO plan, but I do not eat dairy or eggs. I also still believe that vegetables are powerful and KETO is not an excuse to eat a ton of meat. In this process of healing from SIBO I found a few ways to bring relief from constipation and keep my digestive system moving! When my bowels feel stuck, I put myself in a Constipation Boot Camp for a couple of days to get my body back on track. Try some of these tips and see if you also find relief.
Constipation Boot Camp
Smooth Move Foods
Leafy Greens are powerful for many reason, but in this case they really aide in digestion. Two of my favorite recipes are my Greek Salad and my Chicken Club Salad. I keep spinach and a spring mix on hand at all times. I also love sprouts and microgreens to add in more vitamins and texture.
Chia Seeds are another item I like to keep on hand. These little super foods are high in fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium without being high in sugar! I mix them with whatever smoothie ingredients I have on hand. When I am constipated this serves as a meal replacement, giving my body good nutrients, but also keeping the meal light and giving my backed up assembly line of a body a chance to catch up to it’s production demands.
Avocado could help, or could be a struggle, it depends on your needs. The fat and magnesium in avocado help the digestive system to flow smoothly. However, avocados are high FODmap foods. Two years ago I could only eat 1/4 of an avocado without bloating. Now my gut has healed enough that I can eat a whole avocado without any trouble.
Water seems to be connected to every post that I write. Water is life, and if you are not getting enough your digestion will suffer. Get yourself a good water bottle and keep yourself hydrated. My stainless steel Yeti is a favorite because it is sturdy, easily cleaned, and can hold hot or cold temperatures for hours! I found a half gallon Yeti on sale and it has changed my life! No longer and I taking three water bottles out for the day. It also gives me a good goal to finish the whole bottle before I eat dinner.
If drinking water is tough for you, set small manageable goals. Before I even get dressed in the morning, I drink 14 – 28 oz of water. This helps to flush out my systems before breakfast and starts my day off right. Before I eat lunch, I make sure I drink another 32 oz – about 1 full water bottle. If I am behind in drinking water, I make sure to gulp! Sipping all day is hard for me, but stopping for three minutes to focus on draining 1 bottle of water is manageable.
Caffeine is a major factor here. Teaching full time while also consulting and food blogging is no joke! My life is scheduled to the minute so you know caffeine is part of my daily life, however, I am careful to let it work for me and not against me. Everytime a person drinks caffeine their body is sucking up the water they have already consumed. Before I allow myself a dose of caffeine, I make sure water comes first. I drink a full glass of water before pouring myself another cup of tea. If I walk into Starbucks, I make sure to order a cup of water along with my hot tea so I have no excuses.
Electrolyte Rehydration drops have been a game changer for me when it comes to hydration. I use a brand called LyteShow that is free of GMOs and is derived from sea water. This is far better than sports drinks that are packed with sugar and other chemicals. A few drops in my water bottle each morning helps my body absorb the water it needs. I order LyteShow from Amazon making sure my order includes the travel flask for my lunch box!
Magnesium and Fish Oil
While magnesium and fish oil products have been a huge help to me and my family, I want to be clear that my Functional Medicine Doctor knows my specific case and suggests them for my personal use. I should also note that not all supplement products are created equal.I source them from companies that require a medical professional to order them. I would not walk into any grocery store and buy these products off the shelf. Most vitamins are synthetic replacements that fail in comparison to the real thing. I encourage you to find a practitioner who can guide you in their use. At the very least, find your supplements at a health food store that carries trusted brands worth your money.
Even though whole foods supplements are natural, you can still overdose. Pay attention to product guidelines and consult with your doctor to find what is best for you.
A major part of the constipation battle comes from only partially eliminating your bowels. The Squatty Potty is a stool that helps your body fit into a better position for full elimination. I promise, once you have experienced a number 2 in this squat position you will never want to go without it. The Squatty Potty has a few different designs, but I like the classy bamboo look. If you haven’t seen the commercial, do yourself a favor and watch it! While hilarious, it is also informative and explains what all of the hype is about.
If you are feeling shy about the obvious nature of a squat stool by your toilet, I suggest a small fold up stool. This type of stool can be easily stored away, then brought over to the toilet for a private bowel movement. A fold up stool is also less obvious because is can serve multiple purposes. Small children can use it to reach the sink, or shorties like me need it to reach the top shelf.
Fasting has been in the spotlight lately in its relation to the Ketogenic diet and weight loss. Let me be careful in saying this is not a starvation tactic. Instead, it’s a commitment to eating quality low carb, high fat foods when you need to eat, then allowing your body a larger window to digest. Have a fasting break allows your body to reset for the next time you eat.
Intermittent Fasting has brought me great relief. I especially pay attention to the days when I can tell my belly feels like a three car pile up traffic jam. When I haven’t been regular, fully eliminating, or I am feeling the bloat, I see these as signals to intermittently fast the next day. In my life, this might look like reducing my meal portions by half, and waiting a good 7 hours between meals. I would not do this for several days, but this process of taking in less food, and waiting to eat until you are actually hungry can give your digestion the break it needs to get back on track.
Pay attention to your body. I am not a doctor, so if chronic constipation is not solved by healthy food choices and vitamins than more could be going on in your digestive tract. You should invest in yourself, prioritize your health and find a medical care professional you trust! Leaky Gut, food sensitivities, candida overgrowth, and SBIO have all been culprits in my life. I would not have found relief without my functional medicine doctor.
I certainly hope these lifestyle tips can help you unclog and get back to a comfortable life. Please comment or share with friends who might find this helpful.