Constipating diet: what to eat and what should be avoided?

Therapeutic diets are dietary routines prescribed by specialists for individuals who have specific nutritional needs. They are, in general, maintained for a certain period.

These diets assist in the recovery of infections, diseases and surgeries, in addition to preparing the patient for particular situations such as surgeries and exams.

Among these established routines, we have the constipating diet. To learn more read the text below!

What is a constipating diet?

The constipating diet, also known as a waste-free diet, is a therapeutic food routine established by nutritionists.

Its main objective is to avoid decreasing intestinal transit when diarrhea is present .

However, the constipating diet can also be indicated for patients who will undergo examinations ( colonoscopy , opaque enema, endoscopy), undergo gastrointestinal surgeries, and perform delicate treatments such as chemotherapy.

In general, foods that are considered laxative, that is, that “loosen” the intestine and cause an increase in bowel movements, should be reduced or removed from the routine.

Some foods removed are fruits (with lots of fiber), vegetables, whole grain breads, spices, fatty meats, fried foods and sweets.

Those that can be included are lean meats, breads with white flour, strained juices of cooked fruits and vegetables (in the form of puree).

Thus, this eating plan tends to be based on an intake of 1500kcal (hypocaloric), in addition to:

  • Normoproteica: standard amount of proteins (between 10% and 20% of the total energy value);
  • Normosodium:  2800mg of sodium (salt) per day;
  • Hypolipidic: the consumption of fats should be less than 25% of the total daily calorie value.

It is only possible to start a constipating eating routine after an evaluation with a doctor.

What is it for?

The constipating diet to reduce frequent diarrhea, due to viral or bacterial infections, use of medications such as antibiotics , inflammatory diseases and treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In addition, it can be indicated in specific situations, such as gastrointestinal exams, during the pre- or post-operative period.

As a therapeutic method, the constipating diet is very important for those who suffer from diarrhea constantly, as this symptom can cause more serious complications such as dehydration.

Dehydration can occur due to the loss of fluid and minerals continuously through the stool.

If the patient is a baby or elderly, it is necessary to pay even more attention, as there is a tendency to lose fluid more easily and quickly.

Therefore, with food, it is recommended that water consumption be increased.

When do you need to do it?

The constipating diet is indicated mainly due to frequent pain and diarrhea.

According to the diet therapy manual of the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo, some of the most common cases in which the constipating diet can be performed are:

Intestinal infections

Infections in the intestine can occur when food or liquid that has been contaminated by a virus, bacteria or fungus is consumed.

In general, symptoms (including diarrhea) do not usually last more than 3 days. However, if after this period the symptoms persist intensely, it is necessary to return to the doctor for further evaluations.

In this case, the constipating diet can only be prescribed for a few days while the drug treatment lasts.

Therefore, it is expected that with the elimination of microorganisms from the intestine, the symptoms will consequently stop occurring, causing the patient to return to their normal eating routine.

Intestinal irritation caused by medications

Prolonged use of some medications can also cause irritation in the intestine, causing diarrhea.

This occurs mainly with the use of antibiotics that aim to eliminate bacteria that cause infections.

However, from time to time, antibiotics kill bacteria that are positive for the body and that live in the intestine in order to help it metabolize and absorb nutrients.

In this circumstance, the constipating diet can be prescribed during the period of drug treatment.

The food routine will aim to restore the intestinal microbiota (set of bacteria that live in the intestine).

In this way, symptoms, such as diarrhea and nausea, will be reduced.

Bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is an attempt to end diseases that affect blood cells, such as leukemias and lymphomas.

It is in the bone marrow that the hematopoietic stem cells are found, responsible for the generation of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, that is, all blood.

That is why the old bone marrow is replaced by one that can generate new cells that are healthy.

Patients undergoing transplantation may experience some side effects throughout the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines). Which can cause symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, colic, etc.

Thus, a constipating diet can be recommended to relieve symptoms and provide greater well-being for the patient after the transplant.

Peristalsis control

Peristaltic movements are very important for the digestive process, as they “direct” the food consumed to each organ of the digestive system until it becomes a fecal cake and is eliminated.

However, these movements can be accelerated making evacuations more frequent. This alteration can be reduced by means of a constipating diet.

The increase in peristalsis can be considered a symptom of other diseases such as inflammatory bowel (IBD). That is why it is necessary to seek a medical evaluation.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic non-contagious diseases that affect parts of the intestine. The most common are:

Crohn’s disease

The Crohn’s disease is an inflammation that primarily affects the inner part of the small intestine called the ileum, and also the large intestine (colon).

It is considered a serious bowel disease, and treatment should be started as soon as the first symptoms appear.

And as part of this treatment, the constipating diet can be prescribed to avoid some symptoms that affect the patient’s well-being.

Ulcerative Retocolitis

This inflammation reaches the colon region (large intestine), usually its final part.

It ends up causing – in addition to frequent diarrhea – abdominal pain, ulcers and bleeding stools.

Therefore, the obstipating diet can be advised by a nutritionist as a therapeutic method to relieve crises.

Exams

Gastrointestinal examinations are a very specific situation in which the constipating dietary routine can be indicated.

In general, the diet will be prescribed for a maximum of 3 days prior to the application of the exams.

The two most common assessments to recommend a constipating diet are:

Colonoscopy

With the aid of a cable (endoscope) inserted into the patient’s anus, the doctor will check the interior of the large intestine and also the small intestine.

This evaluation allows the diagnosis of intestinal diseases that may be located in certain parts of the digestive system (rectum, terminal colon and ileum).

The examination requires that a specific diet be made, with foods that produce little waste at the end of the digestive process.

Upper digestive endoscopy

Endoscopy is done in a similar way to the colonoscopy exam (with the aid of an endoscope cable), the difference is that in this case the tube is introduced through the patient’s mouth.

The images captured by the endoscope are transmitted to a device where it is possible to identify changes in the mucosa of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

The constipating diet can be prescribed so that only light foods that are easy to digest are consumed.

Pre and post operative

In cases of gastrointestinal surgeries, the constipating diet can be indicated in order to prepare the patient for surgery. It can also aid in recovery and healing after the procedure.

In addition, the proper dietary routine helps to reduce possible complications that may arise due to surgery, such as inflammation and infections in the body.

Cancer treatment

During the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer (regardless of type), adequate food consumption is essential.

Because food is a source of essential nutrients for the maintenance of the body (especially the immune system) throughout this very delicate process.

In particular, in these two forms of treatment:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a method that uses anticancer substances to destroy diseased cells.

Some of the prescribed substances can cause frequent diarrhea, favoring dehydration and loss of nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins .

On this occasion, the constipating dietary routine can help to regulate the bowel and prevent weight loss – which is extremely harmful during treatment.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is a form of treatment using ionizing rays.

Similar to chemotherapy, weight loss can occur due to frequent bouts of diarrhea, affecting the patient’s general condition and making treatment difficult.

That is why constipating food can be beneficial in this case.

What foods are allowed in the constipating diet?

According to the diet therapy manual of the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo, the foods allowed in the constipating diet are those low in fiber.

Because the intention is to produce as little waste as possible after the digestion process.

However, this does not mean that the food routine established by a specialist will be the same for all cases. Therefore, each case is analyzed individually by professionals.

There are numerous problems that can deregulate the gastrointestinal system and cause frequent diarrhea.

Therefore, for each patient, a diet that is appropriate to their situation will be determined.

Be it a severe inflammatory disease, irritation or allergy , as well as more specific occasions such as exams and surgeries (pre and post).

However, in general, the foods allowed during the constipating diet are:

Fruit

The fruits that can be included are the apple and the banana , as both have less soluble fiber, resulting in the “imprisonment” of the intestine – which is beneficial to reduce diarrhea.

They should be eaten well cooked or roasted, preferably without peel and seeds.

You can also prioritize juices, since if they are strained, the amount of fiber is reduced considerably.

Vegetables

Potatoes , carrots, chayote, mandioquinha and yams are vegetables allowed during a constipating diet.

All must be peeled, seeded and well cooked before being consumed.

Meat

The allowed meats are considered lean, due to the low fat content present in them. Some examples are duckling, maminha, lizard, filet mignon, coxão soft and coxão duro.

In addition, chicken (without skin) and fish can be included. Regardless of the type of meat chosen, it is necessary to cook, roast or grill before eating them.

Cereals

Cereal-based foods that can be included in constipating meals are those that have the lowest fiber content.

Thus, toast, crackers, white bread, French bread, for example. It is also possible to consume other sources of carbohydrates such as white rice and pasta.

Drinks and sweets

The recommended drinks are natural juices (lemon, passion fruit, apple and cashew, pear and guava) well strained.

In addition, soy milk or low lactose and clear herbal teas (fennel, chamomile, lemon balm) are indicated.

To sweeten, sachet sweeteners should be used. And if you want to eat a dessert, diet gelatin is a good option.

What foods should be avoided?

The constipating diet requires that some foods be avoided, such as those that stimulate intestinal transit

Foods that should be avoided in the constipating eating routine are those that contain a high amount of fiber (which “loosens” the intestine).

In addition, those that are considered heavy for the body and that can cause irritation in the body are also prohibited.

Thus, some examples are:

Fats

Foods that are sources of fats such as egg yolks, lard, butter, fatty meats and fried foods should be kept out of constipating meals.

Because, when consumed, they can make the intestine “loose”, causing diarrhea.

Milk and dairy products

Except vegetable milks , other types and derivatives such as cheese, curd, sour cream and condensed milk are removed from the diet.

The main reason is that these foods contain lactose (the main milk sugar), which in some cases the body is unable to complete digestion.

Vegetables

Vegetables have a considerable amount of fiber, with few carbohydrates and proteins . Thus, they tend to assist bowel movement. Thus, vegetables should be avoided, especially if they are raw.

Whole Foods

Similar to vegetables, grain-based foods and whole grains are prohibited in the constipating diet because they are sources of fiber.

The fibers, in turn, can increase the speed of stool formation, making the trips to the bathroom to be greater.

Processed foods

Sweets, snacks, pizzas, condiments, soft drinks are foods considered “heavy” for the body, so they should be avoided.

They tend to irritate the gastrointestinal system, making bowel movements faster and more frequent (diarrhea).

How to do a constipating diet?

In order to follow a constipating diet, it is necessary to undergo an evaluation with professionals who will prescribe the ideal food routine for your case.

With the routine established, the next step is to strictly follow all recommendations, from the selected foods to the way they are prepared and consumed.

Otherwise, food will not have the desired effect, either to reduce symptoms such as diarrhea or to perform tests and surgeries.

In addition, it is important to eat the foods in the right amount and at the prescribed times.

To illustrate a constipating dietary routine, the diet therapy manual of the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo provided an example:

Breakfast Portion
Low lactose milk 200mL
Sweetener sachet 0.16g
Jelly diet sachet 30g
French bread / tube bread / loaf of bread 50g or 2 slices
Diet box juice 200mL
Cooked fruit 100g or 1 und
Lunch  Portion
Vegetable, cereal and meat soup 200mL
Rice 100g
Beef / poultry / fish 120g to 150g / 150g to 180g
Peeled and seeded vegetables 100g
Diet dessert or baked fruit 80g / 100g or 1 pc
Diet box juice 200mL
Afternoon snack Portion
Diet box juice / coconut water 200mL
Tube / biscuit / loaf bread 50g / 24g / 2 slices
Jelly diet sachet 15g
Cooked fruit 100g or 1 und
Evening snack Portion
Tea 200mL
Sweetener sachet 0.16g
Sachet Toast 15g
Jelly diet sachet 15g

Constipating diet for baby

Diarrhea is usually common in babies due to some infection caused by viruses or bacteria, which in general are easily treatable.

In addition, diarrhea can also occur during the introduction of foods other than breast milk into the baby’s menu.

Because this phase is considered by specialists as a period of discovery of the child, both of the flavors and of the reactions that each food provokes in its organism.

However, it is necessary to be aware if the diarrhea lasts more than 14 days. This may indicate more serious situations that require medical investigation.

Therefore, it is important to make an appointment with a pediatrician, so that he / she can identify the factor that is causing the diarrhea and start treatment as soon as possible.

With regard to the constipating diet that can be established for babies, it is usually not different from that recommended for adults.

Thus, some foods that can be indicated by a pediatrician are:

  • Banana, apple, pear baby food;
  • Rice with carrot broth;
  • Lean meats or cooked fish;
  • Natural yogurt (preferably without sugar);
  • Crackers.

However, some foods can be removed or allowed depending on the case and also on the tolerance of the child’s body.

In addition to the diet and some medications that can be used in the treatment, the use of homemade serum may also be indicated , to avoid dehydration of the baby during this period.

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