Foods for Constipation

The Best Foods to Help You Poop (and Those to Avoid)

When you have constipation, foods that make you poop can be extremely helpful in getting your digestive system moving normally again. Whether you're backed up after surgery, during pregnancy, or for some other reason, fiber-rich foods are the foods you should look for. Avoiding foods that are high in fat and low in fiber can also help with constipation. The same applies when treating children, toddlers, and babies who eat solid foods.

Foods that can help with constipation include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Herbal teas
  • Water

Foods to avoid when constipated include:

  • Dairy products
  • Fried or fast foods
  • High-fat meats
  • Refined grains
  • Sugary sweets

This article explains how plant-based fiber helps ease constipation and why certain foods help keep you regular while others foods back you up.

10 foods to ease constipation

Verywell / Laura Porter

Why Fiber-Rich Foods Help Constipation

The best thing you can do to ease constipation is to slowly increase your intake of dietary fiber. Fiber is the part of plant material that you cannot digest.

Fiber helps you poop because it adds bulk to stool and softens it. There are two types found in plant-based foods:

  • Soluble fiber is the type that absorbs water. It binds with fatty acids, forming a gel-like substance that keeps stools soft.
  • Insoluble fiber is the type that does not dissolve in water. It adds bulk and moisture to the stool.

Both types are good foods for constipation.

However, eating too much fiber too soon can be hard on your digestive system, causing gas and bloating.

When first adding these foods, take it slow. With each day, increase your fiber intake as tolerated. If there is excessive gas or bloating, ease back a bit.

When treating constipation, many experts recommend that you consume an extra 20 to 25 grams of fiber per day. That is equivalent to three bananas, 3-1/2 cups of fresh spinach, 1-1/3 cup of cooked beans, or 2-1/2 cups of fresh berries.

Best Fruits for Constipation

Fruits are a great food for constipation. Most are an excellent source of dietary fiber and also provide a host of nutritional benefits.

Both fresh and dried fruits are good options. Some, like prunes, contain cellulose that not only increases the amount of water in stools but also promotes fermentation that adds to the stool weight.

Others, like apples and pears, contain pectin that also increases water volumes while speeding the movement of stools through the intestine.

Here are some fresh fruits that can ease constipation:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Here are some dried fruits that can also help:

  • Dates
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

Best Vegetables for Constipation

Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, are among the best foods to help ease constipation. In addition to delivering a healthy dose of insoluble fiber, vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential to your overall health.

With that said, some people find certain vegetables hard to digest. You may find that your body responds better to cooked vegetables rather than eating them raw.

The vegetables you should turn to if you have constipation include:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Red potatoes (with skin)
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Zucchini

Best Whole Grains for Constipation

Switching from refined grains such as white flour and white rice to whole grains can make a big difference in your bowel movements.

When grains are refined, most of the fiber is removed. This does little to help ease constipation and may instead make things worse.

Whole grains are not only better for your digestion but can also improve your heart health by lowering your cholesterol.

Research shows that eating just 25 grams of whole grains per day reduces the risk of heart disease by about 15%.

Here are some good whole grain options if you have constipation:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Whole wheat

Best Nuts and Seeds for Constipation

Nuts and seeds are packed with fiber and are a great source of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids that help promote heart and eye health.

Nuts and seeds are easy to add to your diet if you have constipation. Some can be sprinkled on salads or hot cereals. Others can be toasted and blended into smoothies.

Nuts that are especially high in fiber include:

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Among the seeds that can also ease constipation are:

Best Beans and Legumes for Constipation

Beans and legumes offer a great mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. They are also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, and many other important vitamins and minerals.

Even so, beans and legumes have the potential to cause gas and bloating. This is caused in part by a complex sugar known as raffinose that produces hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gas as it is broken down in the digestive tract.

As nutritious and beneficial as beans and legumes are, start slowly and increase your intake gradually to avoid side effects.

Among the beans and legumes that can help ease constipation are:

  • Baked beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans

Best Herbal Teas for Constipation

One way to help ease constipation is to drink a soothing cup of hot tea. Hot liquids are thought to promote bowel movements by encouraging peristalsis (intestinal contractions).

Two herbal teas in particular, both of which have a licorice-like flavor, are said to have significant laxative effects:

  • Anise tea
  • Fennel tea

A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that people given extracts of fennel or anise had an average colonic transit time (the time it takes for food to move through the digestive tract) of 15.7 hours. Those given a sham extract had a colonic transit time of 42.3 hours.


As important as fiber-rich foods are in treating constipation, you also need to ensure that you drink plenty of water to maintain ample hydration. If you are dehydrated, less water can be pulled into the digestive tract to help keep stools soft.

Most adults do not drink close to enough water per day. By upping your fluid intake, you'll not only be better able to treat acute bouts of constipation but remain regular over the long term.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends drinking 11 cups of water per day for adult females and 15 cups per day for adult males.

Foods to Avoid If You Have Constipation

In the same way that there are foods that help ease constipation, there are foods that can promote constipation and make things worse. These include foods with little or no fiber and those made with refined wheat, saturated fats, or trans fat.

Among the food to avoid if you have constipation are:

  • Baked goods, such as cupcakes and cookies
  • Cheese
  • Fast foods, such as burgers, tacos, and pizzas
  • Fried foods, including french fries and fried chicken
  • Processed meat, like hotdogs, sausages, and salami
  • Red meat
  • Snack food, such as chips and crackers
  • White bread

Alcohol and Constipation

Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning that it promotes urination that can lead to dehydration. Because dehydration is a contributing factor to constipation, it is a good idea to avoid alcoholic beverages of any sort if you have constipation.


If you have constipation, make an effort to increase your intake of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and herbal teas. Increase your intake gradually, especially with beans and legumes, to avoid gas and bloating.

You should also avoid certain foods that promote constipation, such as fast foods, processed foods, packaged foods, fried foods, and alcohol.

A Word From Verywell

Sometimes, changes in diet are not enough to relieve constipation. In such cases, speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter (OTC) treatments that may provide short-term relief of your symptoms.

OTC options are generally not intended for ongoing use and can either be habit-forming or lose their effectiveness over time.

If your constipation is persistent despite appropriate treatment, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a gastroenterologist who specializes in diseases and disorders of the digestive tract.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can coffee help treat constipation?

    Coffee stimulates the colon and makes many people have to poop shortly after drinking. While it may be a good short-term constipation fix, it's not the best long-term solution for ongoing constipation because it is dehydrating, which can lead to more constipation.

  • Are fiber supplements as good for constipation as fiber-rich foods?

    Fiber supplements such as Metamucil (psyllium) are an effective way to get your bowels moving again. Just remember that plant-based foods offer fiber plus a host of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your overall health.

  • What other ways can you treat constipation?

    In addition to eating high-fiber foods and staying hydrated, exercise can help stimulate the bowels and move stools faster through the digestive tract. Over-the-counter fiber supplements can also help.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.