If you’ve ever experienced constipation for yourself, you know that it can be anything from mildly uncomfortable to downright painful. When this affliction occurs in kids, it’s heartbreaking. Yet a massive percentage of children suffer from this ailment!
Aside from medical factors like side effects of certain medications, here are 5 common reasons why today’s children are so constipated:
Inadequate water intake.
Sometimes we forget that water is the ultimate lubricant, and other beverages don’t measure up. Your child should be drinking lots of water throughout the day—especially is she is active, as most children are.
Many won’t ask for water to drink unless they’re very thirsty, but we don’t want them to get to that point. Making a conscious effort to provide your child with water throughout the day (not just at mealtimes) is not only important, it’s imperative to their digestive health.
Low to negligible consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
How many parents out there pack a couple of pieces of fruit into their child’s lunch every day, only to find that fruit coming home bruised and uneaten at the end of the day? The rule should be this: until two pieces of fruit and three veggies are consumed, there is no dessert or other types of snacks.
Right? Get the good stuff in first; break out the goodies later.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants, fiber, naturally-occurring sugars and starches, and contribute to good health and better eating habits as your child grows up.
Get it in!
Pre-packaged, processed ‘convenience’ foods.
This kind of ties into that last point, but as convenient as they are, we all need to have a realistic view about these types of foods: they are not healthy. Most foods that come from a bag or box have been heavily processed and therefore have lost many of their original nutrients. Honesty, these dead foods make us constipated–there are no enzymes, and no real health benefit to eating them, aside from calorie intake (which can also backfire).
These foods need to be offered after your child has consumed an adequate amount of healthy, living fresh foods, first.
Ignoring the natural impulse to go to the bathroom.
Almost every child is guilty of doing this every once in a while, but some kids do this regularly. The reason may be that perhaps they feel uncomfortable going at their school, or all public bathrooms for that matter. When they do this at home, they might be unwilling to stop playing to go to the bathroom.
Whatever the reason may be, we need to teach our children that having bowel movements is healthy, natural, and will keep their tummies feeling good. No child should ignore the urge to go to the bathroom—it’s unhealthy, and will result in constipation.
Inadequate fiber intake.
This last point is relevant for everyone, not just kids. The daily recommended amount of fiber for adults is 34 grams a day, yet we typically only consume 11.
And kids are worse!
Fiber helps to sweep the colon clean, induce bowel movements, lower blood sugar, and maintain good, overall digestive health. Foods that are high in fiber include fruit, vegetables, oats, beans, sweet potatoes, and legumes. If your child doesn’t eat enough fiber in a day, you can try adding some natura fiber to her smoothie or oatmeal, because it’s super high in flax seed (which is chalk full of fiber).