What to Eat When Constipated and Bloated: Expert Dietary Tips

Laxatives should be your last resort for constipation. With a few simple dietary changes, you can improve your digestive health and overall quality of life. 

Eating the right foods can naturally enhance gut function and alleviate constipation and bloating without the need for medication.

In this article, we’ll explain how diet and digestive health are linked, and what you can eat to treat and prevent constipation and bloating.

What is the Connection between Diet and Constipation?

Our diet, digestive system, and bowel movements are intricately linked. Food needs to pass through our bodies smoothly and without discomfort. 

However, for those experiencing chronic constipation, this process can be challenging. 

Certain foods can enhance bowel movements and improve overall digestive health, helping to relieve constipation, while others may worsen the condition. 

Knowing which foods to eat or avoid can greatly influence the ease of your bowel movements.

Can your diet cause constipation?

Your diet can contribute to constipation, especially if you’re not eating enough high-fiber foods.

For a healthier functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, it's crucial to include foods rich in fiber, ensure proper hydration with water and other fluids, and consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. 

These dietary choices help maintain regular bowel movements and support your digestive health. Some foods that may be causing or worsening your constipation include:

  • Fatty and greasy foods: High in fat but low in fiber, these foods can slow digestion.

  • Refined grains: Processing removes much of the fiber from grains, reducing their ability to aid digestive motility (the movement of food through the digestive tract). Excessive consumption of refined grains can be problematic if your diet does not include fiber-rich foods.

  • Simple carbohydrates: These can contribute to quick spikes in blood sugar without providing the fiber necessary for healthy digestion.

  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption increases urine production and fluid loss, leading to dehydration. This dehydration can result in hard stools and constipation.

What Foods Can I Eat to Relieve Constipation?

Before resorting to treatments for constipation, consider adjusting your diet or eating specific foods to relieve constipation. 

Following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and ample water can help manage and prevent occasional constipation. All these dietary elements play a role in maintaining a healthy digestive system and promoting overall gut health.

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most Americans fall short of meeting the recommended daily fiber intake. 

Adults are advised to consume about 25-35 grams of dietary fiber each day, yet research indicates the average intake is only around 15 grams per day. This deficiency highlights dietary habits that could significantly impact overall health.

If you’re looking to relieve or prevent constipation and bloating, here are the top foods to fill up on:

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important for gastrointestinal health and maintaining regular bowel movements, mainly because of their insoluble fiber content. 

Insoluble fiber, which cannot be broken down or dissolved in the gastrointestinal tract, helps manage occasional constipation effectively. 

It absorbs water, increasing the bulk within the intestines, which mechanically pushes stools toward the rectum to facilitate defecation. 

This type of fiber is essential for stimulating the natural peristaltic motion needed to maintain bowel regularity.

Foods containing insoluble fiber include, but are not limited to:

  • Apples

  • Nuts

  • Pears

  • Corn and popcorn

  • Leafy green vegetables

  • Beans, lentils, and chickpeas

  • Brown rice, barley, and whole wheat flour

Probiotic-rich foods

The term "probiotic" comes from Greek, and it means "for life." Probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms found in the gastrointestinal tract that help maintain the balance of the gut's microbiome. 

The microbiome, made up of fungi, bacteria, and viruses, is crucial for digesting food, fighting off germs, and helping the body produce energy. Keeping it healthy is vital for good health and a strong immune system.

Probiotic-rich foods are excellent for supporting gut health as they contain beneficial bacteria. 

Here's a list of foods that are high in probiotics that you should be including in your diet:

  • Yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Miso

  • Pickles

  • Kombucha

  • Buttermilk

  • Natto


Food processing changes the grains we eat. A whole grain has three parts: the endosperm, bran, and germ. The bran has minerals and vitamins, while the germ contains nutrients like vitamin E and antioxidants. 

In refined grains, like white flour, the bran and germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm. 

This process strips away many nutrients. 

Whole grains, however, keep all their parts and nutrients, making them healthier for your digestive system and overall well-being.

Here's a list of grains that are beneficial for your digestive system:

  • Brown rice: Retains its fiber-rich bran and germ, promoting better digestion.

  • Oats: High in beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fiber that helps with smoother bowel movements and cholesterol management.

  • Barley: Offers both soluble and insoluble fiber, enhancing digestive health and heart function.

  • Quinoa: A protein-packed seed classified as a whole grain, it's rich in fiber and promotes gut health.

  • Millet: This gluten-free high-fiber grain is also rich in antioxidants, protein, and minerals, making it a versatile whole grain.

What are some good grain options if you struggle with bloating?

If you have gluten intolerance, you’ll likely experience bloating when you consume grains like wheat, barley, and rye. 

To avoid discomfort but still reap the benefits of whole grains, go for options like brown rice, quinoa, and oats. These foods are easier on the gut and can help decrease bloating and digestive issues.


  • Flax seeds: A 2022 study found that flax seeds are effective in relieving constipation. They can be easily introduced into your diet by adding them to smoothies, cereals, or yogurt.

  • Chia seeds: Chia seeds are also beneficial for alleviating constipation. They can be mixed into beverages, breakfast bowls, or baked goods to enhance fiber intake and aid digestion.

Fluid intake

Drinking water is essential for staying regular. Research indicates a significant link between hydration and bowel movement regularity. 

A 2014 study highlighted that adolescents who increased their fluid intake experienced improvements in bowel movement frequency, stool consistency, and reduced episodes of constipation. 

Fruit juices — like prune juice, for example — can also help manage constipation due to their sugar alcohol content, which acts as a type of artificial sweetener. 

These sugar alcohols can help alleviate constipation when consumed in small amounts. 

However, it's important to be cautious with their intake, as excessive consumption can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to diarrhea and other digestive issues.

What Should I Eat to Relieve Bloating?

Feeling bloated often stems from excess gas in the intestines, which can be triggered by food intolerances, dietary habits, or even swallowing air. Here are some foods that may help ease bloating:

  • Berries: Berries are high in fiber. You can snack on them throughout the day.

  • Fennel: Fennel has antispasmodic properties. This means it can relieve bloating by relaxing the intestines to release gas. Fennel can be used in tea.

  • Peppermint oil: One study showed that peppermint oil efficiently reduces gastrointestinal pain and bloating. It can be taken in capsule form or you can put a few drops into your tea.

What foods can worsen bloating?

  • Sugary drinks and foods: Sugary foods and drinks often contain excess sugar that our bodies can't digest. This undigested sugar remains in the intestines and feeds gas-producing bacteria, which can lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating. Reducing your intake of high-sugar items can help alleviate these symptoms.

  • Sugar alcohols: Sugar alcohols are not digestible, but are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process releases gas, often leading to bloating and discomfort.

  • Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes contain oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that is difficult for the body to digest. When these oligosaccharides reach the intestine, they are fermented by bacteria, and gas is released during this process. This can cause discomfort and bloating.

  • Food intolerances: An example is lactose intolerance. This is when an individual does not have the specific enzyme (lactase) to efficiently break down the lactose found in milk or dairy products. The lactose then remains in the intestine where bacteria start to break it down through fermentation. This then releases gas.

Some Additional Tips on Eating to Relieve Constipation

Do not skip meals

Try to keep your meal times consistent. This is called bowel training and helps you form a routine where you go at the same time each day.

Furthermore, by eating, you activate a reflex that helps move fecal waste through the intestines, which aids in digestion and regular bowel movements. This process is part of the body's natural digestive rhythm that helps clear the gut efficiently.

Eat fruits with peels

Peeled fruits and vegetables have a lower fiber content. This is because the edible skins of many fruits and vegetables are high in insoluble fiber, so you shouldn’t waste them. 

Consuming these peels can help to promote regular bowel movements and improve overall digestive function. 

Where it's safe and practical, try to include the skins in your diet to get the most out of these fiber-rich foods.

Where Can You Learn More About Nutrition and Digestive Health?

Do you struggle with bowel movements or bloating? You may benefit from nutritional advice and LifeMD can help.

A team of healthcare professionals is ready to answer your questions about digestive health and give you the tools you need to make better food choices to stay regular and avoid gastrointestinal issues.

Make your appointment today to take control of your health — all from the comfort of your own home.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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