Can a healthy diet fix constipation?

Steve Hodges, M.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatric Urology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

The other day a patient’s mom asked me, “Why is my daughter so constipated? She’s been on a ‘real food’ diet since birth. She’s gluten free and does karate or ballet every day.”
Most folks assume that when a child’s pipes are clogged, the culprit is highly processed, low-fiber diet.

But that’s not always true, and trying to fix constipation with “clean” diets may only frustrate families without actually solving the problem.

Always treat constipation aggressively!

Most folks assume that when a child’s insides are clogged, the culprit is highly processed, low-fiber diet.

But that’s not always true, and trying to fix constipation with “clean” diets, prune juice, or fiber supplements may only frustrate families without actually solving the problem.

WHY KIDS WITH STELLAR DIETS CAN BECOME CONSTIPATED

I support eating real food — heck, my wife is a nutritionist! There’s no doubt our culture’s constipation epidemic is largely driven by processed “food products.” The human digestive system wasn’t designed for s’mores-flavored breakfast cereals.

When kids overdo junk food, their stool hardens and pooping becomes painful; to avoid pain, these kids poop less often, causing even more stool to pile up in the rectum and even more pain with pooping. It’s a vicious cycle.