Overcoming Thanksgiving Constipation & Bloat

November 15, 2022

Come Thanksgiving, most of us stuff ourselves silly even though we know we’ll feel it later, constipation and bloating. So why do we do it? You can partly blame cultural pressure and partly blame biology: when you see and smell lots of food, your brain releases the hormone ghrelin in response. This nifty little chemical not only makes you want to eat more but also reduces how satisfied you feel after eating, resulting in, you guessed it, overeating. And then there’s good old peer pressure; feeling like you have to keep up with others leads many people to lose track of their consumption.

Many people believe they should poop daily, but this isn’t always the case. Up to 25 percent of Americans don’t meet this expectation. According to specialists, having a bowel movement once every two or three days is considered mild constipation, while only going once a week would be severe.

But seriously, nobody likes being bloated and constipated. Ideally, we should all be going at least once or twice a day, and it shouldn’t be too difficult or too soft.

Chronic constipation is infrequent or difficult bowel movements that last several weeks or longer. Constipation is usually described as less than three BM’s (bowel movements) per week.

What is Constipation (Chronic or Otherwise)

Chronic constipation is infrequent or difficult bowel movements that last several weeks or longer. Constipation is usually described as less than three BM’s (bowel movements) per week. Though occasional constipation is prevalent, some people suffer from chronic constipation that can interfere with their daily lives. Chronic constipation may also cause excessive straining during bowel movements.

While the root of chronic constipation may differ, treatments typically are uniform. Though, in some scenarios, no explanation is ever revealed.

Constipation Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of chronic constipation are:

  • Fewer than three bowel movements a week
  • If you have lumpy or hard stools.
  • Straining when having bowel movements
  • Feeling as though there is an obstruction in your rectum that prevents bowel movements.
  • Feeling as though you can’t empty your bowels.

If you experience two or more symptoms for three months or longer, you may have chronic constipation.

Thanksgiving Constipation can be Triggered By

A lack of fibre. A lack of dietary fiber is the most common cause of constipation, but even when people know that it could be causing their poop problems, they still don’t seem to up their intake. Perhaps it’s because fibrous foods aren’t exactly everyone’s craving (think: vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, and flaxseed), or maybe it’s because people spend too much time filling up on high-carbohydrate items like white bread and French fries. Eating 20 to 30 grams of fiber every day aids not only your digestion but also wards off diseases like colon cancer and diverticulitis.

Not enough relaxation. The state of your intestines is partially determined by how comfortable you feel when pooping. That’s right; a good portion of bowel health is mental. I’m sure nobody loves sitting on public toilets for long periods, and the fear of taking a dump at someone else’s house (or even worse: your new partner’s) and clogging their toilet is probably universal. If you have an unpredictable or busy work schedule, it’s more likely that you’ll suffer from the mental component of constipation.

Stress, anxiety, and depression. Your nervous system includes your brain, and when it’s overwhelmed, the whole body feels it. Stressful situations can cause “fight or flight” responses that slow down things like digestion and reproduction. When the brain is under stress, it isn’t a good time for other processes, like going to the bathroom. Diarrhea is one of the many possible ways our bodies react to stress, but it’s certainly not the only way. Anxiety and depression can also alter the body’s homeostatic state, slowing metabolism and resulting in unhealthy digestion and elimination habits.

A lot of cheese, not enough water, and too many pills. The food and drink you consume dictate your bodily output. For example, those who eat a lot of cheese may suffer from constipation due to dairy. You’re probably dehydrated if you often drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee or soda instead of water. Your intestines need enough liquid to move waste along. When poop stays in your system for too long, it dries out and becomes more brutal (and painful) to eliminate. You may think that taking laxatives will help the situation, but even natural laxatives can cause your intestinal muscles to become lazy. If you use them regularly, your body will not poop unless stimulated by the laxatives, so don’t rely on them as a permanent solution.

Problems with your hormones. If you have issues with your thyroid, such as hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease, this can affect how quickly your intestines work. Hormones can slow down digestion and cause constipation. If you optimize hormone levels, it may take some time to see an improvement in bowel movements.

Medications. Suppose you start a stool softener, increase your fiber intake, and drink plenty of water while taking painkillers. In that case, it’s still possible that you’ll experience some unpleasant constipation side effects. Don’t let this potentiality stop you from taking your medication – instead, be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist how the meds might affect your bathroom habits so that you know what to expect.

Constipation Help Is An Appointment Away

Constipation is awful, but there are ways to treat it, depending on the cause. Schedule a doctor’s appointment at Gastro Florida if you’re experiencing changes in your bowel habits that don’t have an explanation.