Eating and Bowel Control
Some bowel control problems improve simply by changing what—and how much—you eat and drink. Common foods and drinks linked to diarrhea and bowel control problems include
- dairy products such as milk, cheese, or ice cream
- foods and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, or chocolate
- cured or smoked meats such as sausage, ham, or turkey
- spicy foods
- alcoholic drinks
- fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears
- fatty and greasy foods
- sweeteners in diet drinks and sugarless gum and candy
Changes in your diet that may improve your bowel control problems include
- Eating the right amount of fiber. Fiber can help with diarrhea and constipation. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fiber supplements sold in a pharmacy or health food store are another common source of fiber to treat bowel control problems. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day for adults and “age plus five” grams for children. A 7-year-old child, for example, should get “7 plus five,” or 12, grams of fiber a day. Fiber should be added to the diet slowly to avoid bloating.
- Getting plenty to drink. Drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquid a day may help prevent constipation. Water is a good choice. Drinks with caffeine, alcohol, milk, or carbonation should be avoided if they give you diarrhea.
Keeping a Food Diary
A food diary can help you identify foods that cause diarrhea and increase the risk of a bowel control problem. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, and when you lose bowel control. After a few days, you may begin to see a link between certain foods and your bowel control problem. Your symptoms may improve if you eat less of foods linked to your bowel control problem. Discuss your food diary with your doctor.
Page last updated February 20, 2013