I cannot believe that I am writing about poop! I am sure that I am breaking some sort of etiquette rule, but I also cannot believe how often I get into a conversation with another mom about children and poop problems. Whether it is an issue of consistency or frequency, as those in charge of what goes in and out of our family, moms take great responsibility for their kids’ output! I have learned through the past few years that there are three things moms should look at if their little guy or gal are having issues in the bathroom: intolerances, inefficiencies and incidents.
Intolerances-There are the well known triggers of milk, soy and gluten that require a complete avoidance of certain foods, but many people have lesser intolerances. Some only have to avoid drinking a glass of milk or eating ice cream but are fine with yogurt and baked in diary. Eliminating all grains might not be the solution, but limiting grains may be the answer for some. Refined white sugar, food dyes and artificial preservatives were not meant to be ingested by the body and cause problems in some people. If a child is having issues I recommend starting first by looking for an intolerance. While this is probably a result of our own experience with our son, it does no good to pump a child full of fiber when another food or food substance is actually causing the issue. I highly recommend the book What is Eating Your Child? for more information about this issue.
Inefficiencies- This is the most common assumption. “Not enough fiber in the diet.” I think most people equate fiber with whole grains, but whole grains aren’t the most effective food (neither are all whole grans the same.) While I agree that whole grains are the way to go when eating grains, they will not add nearly the amount of fiber that veggies do. I have a few ideas for pushing the veggies, but I think that the biggest one is cut out all sugar for a while until enough veggies are consumed. Children are smart enough to figure out that “I will only be hungry for a few hours if I skip eating a healthy lunch. Come 3:00 Mom will bring out the gold fish crackers and juice. I will get full then so that I don’t have to eat the green stuff at supper.” We have had that a couple times here, and the lunch plate goes in the fridge and is served at snack time. J
Water is another area where a child might be inefficient in the amount that they consume. Juice does not equal water; milk does not equal water. Water=water. Guess what…beefing up on fiber can make constipation worse if the body is not getting enough water!
Probiotics are so helpful at achieving a balance of bacteria in the gut and keeping things rolling at a safe and steady pace. The easiest place is yogurt (again watch the sugar!), but there are also probiotic powers that can be mixed in applesauce or sprinkled between the bread of a pb&j.
Omega-3s are getting a lot of buzz these days for the benefit that they give to the body. One of these benefits is a healthy digestive tract. We try to eat fish at our house a couple times a month but that is not nearly enough omega-3s to make a healthy body. We take Cod Liver Oil supplements (we use Nordic Naturals) and add flax or chia seeds to some of our baked goods. (Fish oils also helped my son with bed wetting! Bonus!)
Incidents-Sometimes there are circumstances that cause issues for kids. Potty training, starting school or a new baby in the house might just make them nervous and feel sick for a while. Make sure that their diets are high in fruits and veggies and low in sugars and processed foods to give them the best chance possible at feeling well and having success in the bathroom!
Spinal alignment can make a big difference on the nerves that affect our digestion. A great chiropractor can work wonders for those with digestive issues.
What about Juice? Juice is high in sugar. The sugar found in juice cannot be digested by the body so it quickly eliminates it. It is effective, but should be used with caution. Kids who get used to sugary drinks will not drink water (which they need.) Juice can spike the blood sugar and is also really hard on kids’ teeth. It isn’t something that they should have every day. Juice isn’t necessarily healthy and doesn’t solve the problem. It masks it.
I am not a doctor, just a mom of four who has wiped a lot of bottoms and dealt with quite a lot of poop in the last several years. I try hard to keep everyone’s tummies healthy and happy because a troubled tummy makes for a crabby kid!
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