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How to Cope with Constipation

How to Cope with Constipation

Constipation can occur as a result of certain cancer treatments and medications. Changes in your activity level and eating habits can also contribute to constipation.  Constipation is having fewer bowel movements than what is normal for you or when you have hard stools that are difficult to pass.  Here are some helpful tips if you are experiencing constipation. 

Drink Plenty of Fluids

  • Aim for at least 64 ounces or 8 cups of fluids daily. 
  • Include a variety of drinks including water, seltzer, flavored water, juice, tea, coffee and oral nutrition supplements.
  • Hot beverages may help stimulate the bowels. Try tea, coffee or warm prune juice.

Focus on Fiber

  • Fiber can help stimulate the bowels and ease and prevent constipation. 
  • Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber each day.  Adding fiber to your diet too quickly can cause cramping or discomfort.  Try adding 1 high fiber food per day to allow your body to adjust.  If you are not currently eating a lot of fiber, increase your intake by no more than one serving of high-fiber foods a day


List of High Fiber Foods to Choose More Often

Food Group

High-Fiber Food



1 apple, banana, orange, pear

½ cup blackberries or raspberries

1 cup strawberries

4 dried prunes

3 dates


1 artichoke

½ cup peas, acorn or butternut squash

½ cup cooked broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, spinach, turnip greens

1 small white or sweet potato with skin

Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds

1 slice of whole grain bread

1/2 cup high fiber bran cereal

1 cup cooked oatmeal

2 T ground flaxseed

½ cup cooked kidney beans, black beans, lentils, navy beans

¼ cup almonds, peanuts


Get Moving

  • Physical activity can naturally help prevent and relieve constipation.  Try adding some light exercise to your daily routine.  Even short walks can be helpful.
  • Visit the Media Library to find a variety of exercise classes you can take part in from the comfort of your home. 


Talk to Your Doctor

  • High fiber foods can make you feel full so it may be difficult with a poor appetite to get enough calories.  Ask for alternatives if you are having a hard time eating enough.
  • In addition, some people with certain types of cancer should not eat a lot of fiber so check with you doctor before starting a high fiber diet.
  • Diet and exercise alone is not always enough to relieve constipation.  Before starting over-the-counter laxatives, stool softeners, or fiber supplements, talk to your doctor to see which one is right for you.

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Recipe of the month

Energy Smoothie

Combine yogurt and Benecalorie® in a small bowl and stir well. Place yogurt mixture and remaining ingredients in a blender. Mix for 5-10 seconds or until ingredients are well blended. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.