Constipation means difficulty passing bowel movements, being unable to move your bowels, or having fewer bowel movements than normal.  It can occur during cancer treatments as a result of medications, taking iron supplements, decreased food or fluid intake, or decreased physical activity.  Constipation can cause a decreased food intake and inability to meet nutrient needs and is important to control.  

Your physician will discuss appropriate medications to take to keep your bowels moving, though there are some dietary tips that may also help you regulate them.  

  • Consuming adequate fiber (25-35 grams per day) is beneficial in helping move food contents through the GI tract.  The best sources of fiber can be found in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables; dried fruits; grains like brown or wild rice, quinoa, steel cut oats; bran; whole grain breads, tortillas, and pastas; nuts and seeds; popcorn; beans; and flaxseed.
  • When increasing fiber intake, it’s important to increase fluid intake as well.  Try drinking water, prune juice, warm juices, decaffeinated tea or coffee.  Aim for a minimum of 8 cups (64 oz) of fluids daily.  
  • Try the recipe below, taken from Eating Well Through Cancer by Holly Clegg and Gerald Miletello, as a means of relieving your constipation.  

1¼ cups unprocessed bran
1 cup prune juice
1 Tbsp molasses or honey
1 cup applesauce

Mix and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Stir before taking.  Take 2 Tbsp every night as needed.

Makes 18 (2 Tbsp) servings

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