This article is about bathroom regularity — bowel movements. It’s an unpleasant 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.
In my experience, bathroom irregularity is widespread among women for one reason: crazy ideas about dieting. Let’s face it, many women want to look great — everyone does, but the methods a large majority of women use to that end: exotic short-term diets, eliminating food groups, intermittent starvation or total anorexia, use and abuse or dietetics and so on, can all lead to gastrointestinal issues; aka, irregularity. This is the reason why fiber and probiotic commercials are overwhelmingly geared toward women. Men are simply less likely to engage in the extreme dieting. This disparity among the sexes is often based around goals. In general, women focus on achieving a certain look or size, not a certain function. Achieving a certain look does not require one to be well-nourished or fit. While achieving a certain function, like the ability to squat a certain amount of weight or do pull-ups, requires good nutrition by default.
Because of such horrid dieting — body abuse, in addition to bathroom irregularity, I’ve also encountered numerous female clients with thyroid issues. In all cases, I’ve been able to help or direct them to a doctor, when the issue was beyond my expertise.
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 Bad 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., pastas, 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
What if you forget to have one of the above the night before? 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.