Diet & Nutrition

Feeling constipated? These are the fibre-rich foods you need to eat

Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill gives her expert advice.

By Alex Lilly
Let's talk about constipation.
Granted, it's not the most glamorous conversation topic but it's a problem that affects plenty of us and especially women.
According to nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill, the number one reason behind constipation is a lack of fibre in your diet with a whopping two out of three Aussie adults and one in two Aussie kids not getting enough. But luckily for us, she's given us her professional insight into the best foods to fight those tummy pains and erm uneventful trips to the bathroom.
According to Jacqueline, poor gut motility is the number one sign you're not getting enough fibre and she has seen it in both adults and children.
"A lot of people complain about digestive discomfort being bloating, flatulence and constipation," she says.
"Constipation would the clearest sign or irregularity in your bowel movements that you're not getting enough fibre in your diet because fibre's role is to move food through the digestive system and to support gut motility."
And it's restrictive diets like the Keto and Paleo diets that involve cutting out carbs entirely that Jacqueline says can be part of the problem.
Two out of three Aussie adults are feeling constipated due to lack of fibre. (Image: Getty Images)
"People are a bit misguided about what they can achieve on a Keto diet," she says,
"I think people jump on the bandwagon because it's trending and they don't consider the long term and how sustainable that is for your health and lifestyle."
Jacqueline adds that people with a family history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes are more at risk when following a Keto or paleo diet as incorporating things like wholegrains into their diet will not only sustain their energy and help their digestive health but also support their cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.
"People don't talk to their doctors; they read something or talk to their work colleague instead of consulting medical and health professionals and I think it's really important if they're planning to make such big changes. You can achieve so much more by considering diet as part of your lifestyle and having a good mix of all good foods, like an 80/20 rule and having some room to move and play as well."
Jacqueline recommends having a balanced diet with a mix of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains as well as protein and fat. (Image: Instagram @brownpapernutrition)
So what should we be eating to prevent that bloaty feeling? Good old fruits and veggies are up there as well as wholegrain cereals and nuts.
Jacqueline says, "It's really important to stress that we don't need people try and turn their diets around overnight. Just look at small steps at how you can increase more fibre in your diet."
"It might mean going for a wholegrain breakfast cereal or having some fibre-rich nuts for your morning tea or adding an extra handful of veggies to your lunch or instead of just having coffee in the afternoon having an apple with a bit of nut butter or something like that so that you're slowly increasing your intake of fibre."
Wholegrain cereals with some fruit? The perfect fibre-rich start to the day! (Image: Instagram @kelloggsaus)
She also recommends eating your fruits and veggies whole rather than juicing them especially as we approach winter.
"It'll make you feel more satisfied because everyone tends to feel more hungry over winter as well, it'll incorporate that element of fibre and by also having the fibre in your system it will slow the absorption of any sugar intake so that'll help maintain much more stable energy levels throughout the day as well."
Eat your fruit whole a la Megs! (Image: Instagram @meghanmarkle)
Getting kids to eat their veggies can be a battle, but Jacqueline has a handy life hack that will be a massive help for parents.
"I generally advise giving fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables when kids are at their hungriest," she says.
"As kids rise make sure they have something of that nature so it might be a small plate of fruit and then a wholegrain cereal. Similarly right after school is when kids are super hungry so rather than have a snack bar or a cookie try to have vegetable sticks with some hummus or something like that that's super healthy."
"Because they're so hungry they basically have a choice, they can go hungry and maintain their hangryness or they can eat it and nine out of ten times they do because they're so hungry and they can't think beyond getting on to the next place and not eating."
WATCH: The top 10 foods children refuse to eat. Post continues...
Jacqueline also recommends eating as a family at the dinner table and leading by example when it comes to healthy eating.
"Children will model their behaviour on what they see before them being their parents so if you can be that role model for them, then that's really going to support their diet and wellbeing as well."
"Sometimes kids throw things back at you but you've got to persist, it's very easy to give up but you never know the day that they're going to pick up that piece of broccoli or put that mouthful of cereal in. You just don't know but you need to persist and keep exposing them to the foods that you know will benefit their health."
WATCH: Why fibre is so important for gut health.

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