Foods You Should Never Eat If You're Constipated

When you are constipated, the last thing that you want to do is to eat anything that is only going to make things worse. There are plenty of things that you can eat that will help to ease constipation, so it shouldn't be too much of deprivation to skip the foods that you will find below.

Some of these foods you may choose to avoid only when you are constipated, but there are others that you may want to avoid altogether so as to prevent further bouts of constipation.

Note: There is very little published research regarding the effects of specific foods on constipation. The following recommendations are, therefore, to be considered common-sense guidelines.

Anything With White Flour

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White flour is wheat that has had most of its gut-healthy fiber stripped away. A healthy intake of fiber is essential for keeping your bowels humming along smoothly.

Therefore, to help to ease constipation now (and perhaps prevent it from coming back), avoid:​

  • Bagels
  • Cake 
  • Cookies
  • Donuts
  • Pepperoni
  • Pizza
  • Salami
  • Sandwiches made with white bread, toast, or buns

Processed Meats

Processed meats are thought to be hard on the digestive system. You don't want to give it a new job, e.g. working hard on your last meal, when it hasn't finished up its original task—that of emptying out any prior meals. In addition, processed meats typically contain nitrates, substances that may increase constipation.

Therefore, when constipated (and beyond!), avoid:

  • Bacon
  • Bologna
  • Hot dogs
  • Sausage

Fried Foods

Like processed meats, fried and other greasy foods are hard for the body to digest, slowing the process down and therefore possibly contributing to constipation.

To ease constipation and perhaps prevent it from coming back, avoid:

  • Barbecued ribs
  • Fast food hamburgers
  • French fries
  • Fried chicken
  • Fried fish
  • Buffalo wings

Dairy Products

Many people report that dairy products can make them constipated. This may be due to the effect of lactose or some of the various proteins found in dairy products.

Avoid these dairy foods when you are constipated:

  • Cheese of all types
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt*

Once your constipation has eased, you may want to try to eat yogurt again. Yogurt has gut-healthy probiotics that may help to keep you from getting constipated in the first place.

If you have chronic constipation, you may want to try an elimination diet in which you avoid eating any dairy for a few weeks to see if this has any effect on your symptoms.

Red Meat

Many experts point to red meat as a food to be avoided when you are constipated. However, it may be the type of red meat that is the problem. Meat from conventionally raised, grain-fed cows, do appear to contain substances (proteins and unhealthy fats) that can contribute to constipation.

If you really love beef, it may be worth it to spend a little more money on meat that comes from grass-fed, pastured cows. Since the cows are eating the food that they are best adapted to eat, their meat contains the substances that we humans are best adapted to eat. Therefore, you may be able to enjoy your red meat without complicating your constipation problem.

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Article Sources

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  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Constipation - self-care

  2. Dimidi E, Christodoulides S, Fragkos KC, Scott SM, Whelan K. The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(4):1075-84. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.089151

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