5 Tips for Staying Regular (And Feeling Great!)

dietary fiberYou’ve heard it for years: eat more fiber to stay regular—but you might not understand what that means. Fiber is the part of the grain, vegetable, or plant that we cannot digest. It passes through your system without breaking down and adds weight and bulk to your stools.

Eating more fiber decreases constipation, reduces straining because bulky stools are easier to pass, and helps you feel great. You’ll want to aim for a certain amount of fiber per day, so you’ll need to read ingredient labels or research fiber amounts online to see how much each food has. According to the Mayo Clinic, men under 50 need at least 38 grams per day, while men over 50 need 30. Women under 50 should have at least 25 grams, and those over 50 should have at least 21 grams.

Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. The more of these you eat, the more you’ll find what works best for you. It’s easy to work fiber into your diet; for example, you can eat high-fiber cereal or cook with high-fiber vegetables. You can also use over-the-counter fiber supplements such as Metamucil, though whole foods should be your first choice.

To stay regular, you might try some of the following ideas in addition to extra fiber. These ideas will also help after breast reconstruction surgery,  as the procedure itself can be constipating.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Water helps keep your stools soft and easy to pass. Hot liquids, especially those with caffeine, stimulate colon action. You might try hot water with lemon juice first thing in the morning.

Don’t ignore the urge to go.

Many of us will simply hold off on using the bathroom if the urge hits at an inconvenient time. Always answer the call of nature. Regularly ignoring it can cause constipation or hard stools that are difficult to pass. Not going when the urge hits can also contribute to poor bowel action.

If you have a habit of ignoring urges, you may want to establish a certain time of day when you go to the bathroom.

Get more exercise.

Exercise helps you stay regular because the movement stimulates your body and helps your colon move waste. There’s a reason dogs tend to go during daily walks. Laughter has also been found to stimulate the colon, so if you’re having trouble, watch your favorite funny movie.

Know your medications and compensate.

Some medications can be constipating, so you may need to be extra vigilant about your fiber intake and add more water, prunes or stewed figs, or even a stool softener.

Take precautions when you travel.

Traveling tends to make you irregular, so be sure to stay well hydrated and eat plenty of fiber before and during your trip. The time difference may mean you’re using the bathroom at very odd times. Go with it and don’t ignore your body.

What’s your favorite tip for staying regular?







How to Spice Up A Boring Salad—the Healthy Way

saladYou’re eating healthier by having a salad once or twice a day, but it’s getting a tad boring. What can you do to spice it up and give it a little taste pizzazz? When it comes to delicious healthy additions, you’re limited only by your imagination.


Here you have a variety of choices, including bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange), banana peppers, hot peppers including habanero and jalapeño, and dried peppers used as a spice. Peppers are full of fiber and antioxidants, vitamins, and carotenoids to nourish your body. Red peppers are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as lycopene. The capsaicin in hot peppers may help improve immunity and kill stomach bacteria that cause ulcers.

Nuts and seeds

Any salad tastes better with a little crunch. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, and minerals including magnesium, iron, and zinc. Eat a variety of nuts and seeds to get as many nutrients as possible. Good choices for salads include sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios.


A hardboiled egg is only about 70 calories, and is a tasty and healthy addition to any salad. Eggs are chock-full of nutrients, including essential fatty acids that help keep your brain, eyes, and muscles healthy. The protein in eggs is high quality, and if you’re pregnant, the choline in eggs helps your child’s brain develop properly.

Fennel or Anise

This aromatic and flavorful veggie contains fiber, folate, and vitamin C, and delivers a slight licorice flavor.


Another food full of nutrients, beans will fill you up and add fiber and protein to your salad. Try black or kidney beans for a rich taste that’s never boring.


Why not add orange slices, kiwi, strawberries, or blueberries to your salad? Fruit is high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, which give fruits and veggies their color. Eat a variety of colors, and you’ll feel incredible.


If you’re bored with oil and vinegar, try something new. Use a different type of oil, or sample rice or balsamic vinegar. Add a few squeezes of lemon or lime juice, or try yogurt mixed with olive oil and vinegar. Add a new ingredient with a kick, such as red pepper or mustard, or buy a pepper mill and crack fresh pepper over your salad. Don’t be afraid to use spices liberally, such as Mrs. Dash or sea salt.

What do you do to spice up your salads?