How to Prevent Constipation This Holiday Season During a Pandemic

Reviewed by Monica Schwarz Josten, MD
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
How to Prevent Constipation This Holiday Season During a Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed our way of life. Our sleep, school and work schedules have shifted, we are moving less and consuming more processed foods. These lifestyle changes have triggered ‘quarantine constipation’ in many, adults and kids alike.

With the holiday season fast approaching, temperatures dropping and the COVID cases surging, it will be challenging for many to exercise and eat healthy, contributing further to tummy troubles. So, here are some useful tips to prevent constipation this holiday season.

  • Make trade-offs: If you find it hard to keep away from sweets, hold back on other high fat and low fiber foods, like potatoes, cheese.  
  • Try to compensate: If you are going to have a rich, heavy dinner, have a lighter breakfast or lunch.
  • Make time to ‘go’: Don’t forget to make time for a bowel movement each day. This is particularly important for kids. Some kids* wrapped up in play, ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Remind your child to use the toilet, especially after meals.
  • Move: If you can’t workout, simply going for a short walk or moving around the house can help ease constipation.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drinking enough water will help keep the stool soft and easy to pass.

Certain juices (prune, apple, pear) can help increase the water content and frequency of bowel movements
Certain juices (prune, apple, pear) can help increase the water content and frequency of bowel movements

If you are constipated, here are a couple of things to try for quick relief:

  • Juice (prune, apple and pear): 2-4 ounces of fruit juice, especially of fruits that are rich in fiber and sorbitol like prunes[1], is helpful to treat mild to moderate constipation.
  • Abdominal massage: Studies[2] have shown that abdominal massage can increase the frequency of bowel movements in constipated patients, and decrease the feelings of discomfort and pain that accompany it.

If these remedies don't relieve constipation or if there is blood in the stool or vomiting, please call your doctor.

*For a detailed discussion about managing constipation in kids, please see check out our class 'Parent’s Guide to Managing Constipation in Children with pediatrician Dr. Monica Schwarz Josten’.

[1]Attaluri, A et al. “Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics vol. 33,7 (2011): 822-8. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04594.x.
[2] Sinclair, Marybetts. “The use of abdominal massage to treat chronic constipation.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies vol. 15,4 (2011): 436-45. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.07.007.

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