ZocdocAnswersCan being a picky eater cause constipation?

Question

Can being a picky eater cause constipation?

Are picky eaters more likely to suffer from constipation? One of my young sons will only eat a few foods ? french fries, plain pasta, chips... Not good stuff. Is it the fact that he eats so little that makes him constipated? Is it the bad nutritional quality of what he eats?

Answer

Your son's diet is likely contributing to his constipation. Constipation is decreased frequency of bowel movements or hard stool, which can be caused by decreased digestive motility or fluid in stool. Normally, the intestines contract with coordinated movements to propel food through the gastrointestinal tract. These movements are stimulated partially by distention, so that sections which are full of food products empty themselves to make room for more intake. When the stomach is full it contracts, pushing food into the small intestine, which fills and then contracts to send the food into the colon for disposal. Additionally, bacteria living in the intestines break down undigestable food products (fiber), producing gas that helps move food forward. Fiber also holds on to fluid, helping to keep stool soft. The foods you mention are all simple carbohydrates, which are starchy foods that are easily broken down into sugars and absorbed early in the digestive system. They contain almost no fiber, and when all the food is absorbed early, there is little intestinal distention or gas production. To help with his constipation, try to add fiber to his diet, possibly through cereals or a fiber supplement. Ensure he is drinking plenty of fluid. If you have further concerns about your son's digestive health, make an appointment to discuss them with his doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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