This article is about bathroom irregularity — infrequent bowel movements, that is not only annoying but can cause bloating. It’s not a sexy topic, we all know. But it affects many people, especially women. Firstly, this article is not for people with medically related bathroom irregularity. I’m a personal trainer, not a gastroenterologist. However, as a personal trainer, I have quite regularly helped clients get regular.
Change your dieting philosophy
In my experience, bathroom irregularity is widespread among women for one reason: crazy ideas about dieting. Many women want to look great — everyone does, but the methods a large majority of women use to that end: exotic, short-term diets; elimination of whole food groups; intermittent starvation or total anorexia; use and abuse of dietetics; and so on. All these methods eventually lead to health complications, in the case of this article, gastrointestinal issues; aka, irregularity. This is the reason that fiber supplement and probiotic commercials are overwhelmingly geared toward women.
The folly of valuing appearance over substance
Men are simply less likely to engage in extreme dieting. As a member of the fitness community for nearly two decades (as of this post), I’ve observed men compete on their knowledge of the human body and nutrition: how different food groups are metabolized, the best times to eat carbs, protein, fat, etc., to maximize fat loss, muscle gain, or to maintain body weight. This opposes the often female approach that doesn’t get into the technicalities of what each food group does for the body and optimal times to ingest each group, depending on physical goals. Instead, hearsay is the ultimate informer of many women’s diet decisions. Such examples are women choosing a diet simply because a friend had success with it, or because a woman who followed such and such diet lost a lot of weight or looks great. Often, no preliminary research is done on how the diet works, nor if it’s logical, or if it’s a long-term solution for permanent fat loss. These diet decisions often lead to yo-yo dieting and being at square one, year in and year out.
Aside from the non-technical approach many women take with dieting, a large disparity between the sexes and diet trends is often based around goals. In general, women focus on achieving a certain look or size, not a certain physical ability. Achieving a certain look does not require one to be well-nourished or fit. While achieving a certain physical ability, like the ability to squat a certain amount of weight or do pull-ups, requires adequate, sustainable nutrition by default.
Due to horrid dieting, what I call body abuse, in addition to bathroom irregularity, I’ve had numerous personal training clients with thyroid issues. These issues interfered with just how lean they could get without medical treatment. In such cases, I directed them to a doctor.
In the case of bathroom irregularity, all that’s needed is a sane, logical, human-friendly diet. When you’re friendly to your body, it rewards you. In this case, you’ll suffer less from constipation and bloating.
Eat like a human, not like a prisoner of poor dieting
One: Fibrous foods are better than fiber supplements, and they’re satiating — preventing overeating and/or hunger for hours.
- Fruits (e.g., raisins, apples, grapefruit, plums)
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat products (e.g., pasta, rye)
- Other whole grains and natural complex carbohydrates
- Leafy greens
Two: Healthy fats help too, via liberation of “bad” fats in the body: LDL and body fat. Omegas 3,6, and 9 are used by athletes and fitness models to flush out bad fats, stay lean, and provide other benefits.
- Other fatty fish
- Coconut oil (for cooking and flavoring food)
- Olive oil (for flavoring food)
- Barlean’s Lignan Flax Oil Softgels
Three: Eat Frequent, Small Meals
Everyone has heard this dietary tip at some point. That’s because it’s expert-proven to keep the body satiated to prevent overeating and speed up metabolic rate. The satiation this eating technique creates fights temptations to eat low-quality foods (processed and high in saturated fats), which not only cause weight gain, but lack the nutrients for bathroom regularity. A high metabolic rate goes hand in hand with regular bowel movements. To incorporate this scheme, do the following:
- Eat every two and a half to three hours. See below for examples.
- 7 am……… Meal 1: Breakfast
- 9:30 am… Meal 2: a snack
- 12 pm…… Meal 3: Lunch
- 3 pm…….. Meal 4: a snack
- 6 pm…….. Meal 5: Dinner
- 9 pm…… Meal 6: an optional before bed snack (see below for foods for bathroom regularity in the morning)
What if you’re regular, but the timing isn’t right? Some people have told me how they hate having to use the bathroom at work — specifically for bowel movements. This is a valid thing to hate. They just don’t know what to do to prevent it. This is usually because their work schedule interferes with their bowel movement schedule. If you have a 9-5 job or a similar schedule that starts in the morning, it’d be ideal to go before work. So how can you accomplish this? Via nutrition. Just like above, it’s all about diet. But in this case, timing matters too.
Eat this before bed, and you’ll go first thing in the morning:
Some of these suggestions can be had in your final meal of the night. Others, like raisins, can be eaten in a handful right before bed.
- Black beans or beans
- Flaxseeds or other flax supplement
- a kombucha drink
What if you forget to have one of the above at night? Try one of the below at least 30 minutes before work:
- Take an omega 3, 6, and/or 9 supplement
- Drink a cup of coffee
- Drink tea – green tea works well
Ultimately, for women specifically, resolving bathroom irregularity is oftentimes as simple as diet modification; eating as nature intended: natural, whole foods loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients that help expel waste from the body. Metabolic rate is also a factor, and that’s where eating small, frequent meals comes in.
As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Applied Fitness