Wondering if your bathroom habits are normal? Have no fear! Questions regarding bathroom habits, such as “how often should I poop?” are among those most commonly posed to dietitians.
After all, what goes in must come out…sooner or later.
The degree of “sooner or later” (that is, the answer to “how often should I poop?”) varies.
Healthy bowel movements may occur as often as three times a day or as few as three times each week.
More sedentary individuals and those with poor dietary habits have a tendency toward the thrice-weekly end of the spectrum, while individuals who are very active and consume healthier diets tend to go more frequently.
If your bowel movements are less frequent and tend to be hard or otherwise painful, difficult, or time-consuming to pass, there’s a good chance you’re slightly constipated. If this is the case, the odds are your answer to “How often should I poop?” is “More than you currently do.”
Normal stool should be well-formed but soft and pass without straining.
While mild constipation may seem benign, regular bowel movements are an incredibly important function of overall health, as they are your body’s sole method of expelling solid waste products.
Additionally, a pattern of mild constipation can become more severe later on, increasing risk for hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction, and stretching of the colon, leading to bowel movements that are larger, harder, and even more difficult to pass.
So what should you do if things just aren’t moving along as expected?
First, always go the natural route before turning to supplements. If you’re constipated, you’re likely not eating enough fiber. That means- you guessed it – eat more fruits and veggies.
While it’s tempting to turn to prune juice, dietary fiber supplements, or other easy routes to get your bowels to vacate, doing so doesn’t fix the underlying root of the problem.
Instead of looking for a quick fix, you should reassess your diet and look for what’s missing. If you’re not eating 5+ cups of fruit and veggies each day, that’s your first indicator that your irregular bowel movements are related to poor diet.
Start including a vegetable at every meal and limit processed snack foods in favor of fruits and veggies. Swapping out half of your plate for vibrant veggies and fruits goes a long way in getting things moving: and keeping it that way, for good!