If you’re experiencing chronic constipation, your eating habits might be playing a part. Adjusting your diet may help relieve your symptoms and promote regular, easy bowel movements.

Here are some of the foods that may help relieve chronic constipation, along with some tasty recipe tips.

The relationship between fiber and constipation is complex. In many cases, people with chronic constipation benefit from eating more dietary fiber. In other cases, there’s research to suggest that some people fare better on a low-fiber diet.

If you develop chronic constipation and your current diet doesn’t include much fiber, your doctor may encourage you to eat more fiber-rich foods, including:

  • beans and other legumes, such as navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • vegetables, such as avocado, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and squash
  • fruits, such as apples, pears, berries, dates, and dried prunes
  • seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds
  • nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, pecans, and peanuts
  • whole grains, such as wheat bran, quinoa, and oats
  • Your doctor might also advise you to take fiber supplements, such as:

  • inulin
  • methylcellulose
  • psyllium husk
  • wheat dextrin

If you experience chronic constipation while eating a diet that’s high in fiber, your doctor might encourage you to maintain or in some cases reduce your fiber intake. They might also advise you to eat less fiber if you have certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.

Eating a lot of deep-fried foods, red meat, and other high-fat foods may slow your digestion and contribute to constipation. However, it’s also possible to eat too little fat. Your digestive system and other organs need some fat to function properly.

If you develop symptoms of chronic constipation while eating a high-fat diet, your doctor might encourage you to reduce your fat consumption. On the other hand, if you experience constipation while eating a low-fat diet, you might find it helpful to eat more fat.

Most experts recommend limiting saturated and trans fats, while choosing foods that are rich in unsaturated fats instead. Common sources of unsaturated fat include:

  • olive oil
  • avocado
  • seeds and nuts
  • fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel

If you’re dehydrated, it raises your risk of constipation. To help prevent and relieve chronic constipation, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends drinking water or other fluids whenever you’re thirsty. The organization also suggests drinking water or other fluids with all of your meals.

It may also help to eat foods that contain a lot of water, such as:

  • yogurt or kefir
  • broths, soups, and stews
  • water-rich fruits, such as melons, peaches, and citrus fruit
  • water-rich vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes

If your doctor has advised you to consume more fiber, unsaturated fats, or fluids, consider incorporating these snacks and meals into your eating plan.

Avocado toast

Avocado is a rich source of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as unsaturated fats. For a high-fiber snack:

  1. Mash half an avocado onto a piece of whole-grain toast. If you prefer, you can swap out the toast for a corn tortilla, brown rice cake, or large whole-grain crackers.
  2. Top the mashed avocado with slices of cucumber, tomato, or other water-rich vegetables.
  3. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you like spicy food, you can also add a splash of hot sauce.

Oatmeal with fruits, seeds, and nuts

For a nutrient-rich breakfast that’s rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, unsaturated fats, and liquids, it’s hard to beat oatmeal with fruit, seeds, and nuts. For example:

  1. Combine a half-cup of rolled oats, one chopped apple, one tablespoon of chia seeds, one tablespoon of peanut butter, and one cup of water in a small pot.
  2. Bring this mixture to a gentle boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, continuing to stir, until the oats are creamy and tender (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Curried lentil stew

Lentil, split-pea, and bean soups are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as fluids. For an easy and flavorful pot of soup:

  1. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add one diced onion, two diced carrots, and two diced stalks of celery. Sauté the vegetables until they are slightly tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add two minced cloves of garlic, one tablespoon of curry powder, and one teaspoon of salt. Sauté until the seasonings are fragrant (about 1 minute).
  4. Add two cups of dried red lentils and six cups of water or broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the lentils are soft (about 30 minutes).
  5. Season with salt and pepper, until the flavors pop. Consider adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, too.

To help prevent and treat chronic constipation, your doctor might encourage you to change your diet. In some cases, they might encourage you to eat more fiber, adjust your fat intake, and drink more fluids. In other cases, they might advise you to eat less fiber or make other changes.

Your doctor can help you identify potential connections between your diet and bowel habits. They can also help you develop a treatment plan. In addition to making suggestions for your diet, they might recommend other lifestyle changes or treatments.