Yes, constipation is a little awkward to talk about, but it’s way worse to suffer in silence. And you’re far from alone if you commonly experience the telltale signs: bloating, pain when you try to poop, and trouble relieving yourself regularly. In fact, 42 million Americans deal with constipation every year.
Pinpointing what’s causing you to be plugged up can be tricky. Traveling a lot, changing your work schedule, and skipping workouts all can cause a change in your bathroom habits, says Jordan Karlitz, M.D., a gastroenterologist and assistant clinical professor at Tulane University School of Medicine.
But the biggest constipation culprit is what you eat—and that’s where the “F” word comes in. “The key is having enough fiber in your diet,” Karlitz says. “You want a good balance of soluble and insoluble fiber as well as enough water intake.”
Insoluble fiber bulks up stool, which makes it easier to pass through your system, while soluble fiber attracts water, which helps your body process the fiber without discomfort, says Gina Hassick, R.D. Just be sure to add fiber to your diet slowly to let your body adjust without gas and stomach pain, Hassick says. The next time you need help keeping things moving, turn to the 11 foods below.