Eat more fiber by adding whole-grain breads, oatmeal, bran cereals, fibrous fresh fruits, and vegetables to your diet. However, take care to add fiber gradually. A sudden switch to a high-fiber diet can cause bloating and gas.
Bulk up your diet by adding an over-the-counter preparation containing psyllium, derived from the plant Plantago psyllium. You can also try ground psyllium seed: Once a day, add 1 teaspoon ground psyllium seed over any cold liquid and drink within a few minutes of preparing, before the mixture gels.
Drink plenty of fluids (at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day) if you increase your intake of fiber.
Avoid refined foods, such as white flour, white rice, and other processed foods.
Avoid certain nuts and seeds, such popcorn, sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame seeds. However, contrary to popular wisdom, it is not necessary to avoid all nuts and seeds. The seeds in tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and poppy seeds are okay to eat.
Prevent constipation by trying over-the-counter stool softeners. However, don't use suppositories or laxatives for constipation on a long-term basis without consulting your doctor. Prunes, prune juice, and psyllium seed are all good natural laxatives. Specially formulated teas to fight constipation are available in health food stores, but some may be very strong, so use them only as directed. Avoid products containing senna (Cassia senna), which is an especially strong herbal laxative and can be habit forming. Also, senna can cause staining of the lining of the colon, which may result in a condition called melanosis coli. Polyethylene glycol (MiraLax) is a useful laxative for short-term use in constipation. Prescription drugs, such as Amitiza, are available for long-term constipation. Talk to your doctor about these medications. Also, exercise regularly. Exercise can help the muscles in your intestine retain their tone, which encourages regular bowel movements. If you have the urge to move your bowels, don't delay or ignore it.