Allow me to start things off with a little TMI: As a kid, and even through parts of young adulthood, I had trouble with constipation. Thanks to youthful arrogance, I thought I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, and my body would just sort everything out. That’s not a good way to become a well-oiled machine. It’s similar to thinking that tossing around a football will eventually land you a roster spot in the NFL. No, at some point, you need training. In my 20s, I finally learned how to stick to a pooping schedule like a champ. I’m not a doctor (I don’t even play one on TV), but here is my two-step plan: diet and timing. More specifically, the best way to get your bowels flowing is with a high-fiber diet, and it helps to do so in a consistent manner: There’s a reason they call it being regular. In an article for Health.com on foods that help you poop, Dr. Gina Sam, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center at Mount Sinai Hospital, specifically spoke to the benefits of tying bowl movements into breakfast. “Your body's contractions of the colon work at its highest level in the morning,” she said. “That's when your body is designed to poop!”
So if you’re looking to get your pooing regimen on track, here are 11 different breakfasts that will help you poo. Trust me, these work. I could go into more details about why you should trust me, but that would just get a bit gross.
1. High Fiber Cereal
Cereal can actually be a very sensible breakfast. It’s an easy source of energizing carbohydrates and healthy fiber. But somewhere along the way, cereal got corrupted and taken over by sugary brands that care more about providing you with a compelling cartoon spokes-thing than an actual healthy meal. But don’t let your childhood of Cookie Crisps and Lucky Charms undermine cereal’s potential as a tasty fiber delivery system. Read the side of the box and grab a cereal that is specifically high in fiber. Personally, I’m a sucker for the classics, like Kellogg’s All-Bran with 10 grams of fiber per serving.
Speaking of the classics, don’t overlook the bowel benefits of oatmeal. Let’s be disgustingly honest: Oatmeal even looks like something that’s meant to unclog your pipes. It's like nature’s Liquid Plumber. But technically speaking, oatmeal is an especially effective poo promoter because oats include nearly equal parts soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which can work in tandem to move things along.
3. Whole Wheat Bagels or Toast
Grabbing a bagel or a piece of toast is a simple way to knock out breakfast quickly. But if pooping is on your list of priorities, beware that not all bread products are created equal. Those made with whole grains can have significantly more fiber. If you look at a major bagel chain like Einstein Bros Bagels for instance, the brand’s plain bagel only has two grams of fiber whereas its honey whole wheat has a whopping seven grams. That can make a big difference down the line. And ditto for white bread toast versus whole wheat toast.
When it comes to fighting constipation, prunes might be the oldest trick in the book. I remember my grandmother talking about the digestive benefits of prunes, and I’m guessing someone her age wrote the book. But modern research has continued to demonstrate the benefits of eating prunes to keep your bowels happy. A 2011 study conducted at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine concluded, “Dried plums are safe, palatable and more effective than psyllium [the ingredient used in products like Metamucil] for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation, and should be considered as a first line therapy.”
In America, beans have somewhat struggled to find a place at the breakfast table, but in other countries, beans are an absolute morning staple. Huevos rancheros, for instance, isn’t afraid to let the deliciousness of refried beans cozy up to eggs. And a full English breakfast certainly isn’t “full” without a sloppy side of baked beans. The moral: Don’t be shy about finding ways to add the “musical fruit” to your morning meal.
6. Metamucil Fiber Wafers
A lot of brands are touting breakfast bars as a quick way to grab a healthy breakfast on the go. Problem is, if you actually inspect many of these products, you’ll find lots of them aren’t really that nutritious or, importantly for this discussion, fibrous. Earlier this year, the campaign group Action on Sugar even warned that nearly half of these breakfast wafers contained as much or more sugar than a bowl of Coco Pops. That why when I turn to a breakfast bar, I go straight to the fiber source: Metamucil. A couple of their wafers provide five grams of fiber in the form of psyllium husk. I know I’ll sound like a shill but at one point I think I ate these for breakfast for a year straight without any “complaints”—if you catch my drift.
7. Opt in for Vegetarian and Vegan Sausages
As an occasional beef and pork indulger, I know that sausages are often the best part of any breakfast and giving them up can sound downright insane. However, I also accept that processed meats aren’t amazing for your colon and can create a backup stauncher than a stubborn cow. As an equally occasional vegetarian, I now often swap in vegetarian or vegan options in the sausage department. These products tend to be made from more fibrous materials which will help keep your guts happy. For instance, a Morning Star Farms Sausage Patty has a gram of fiber whereas one from Jimmy Dean has none.
We’ve talked fiber to death, but there’s more to proper digestive health than simply chowing on more hay than a horse. If you get a properly probiotic-packed yogurt—which many are—these good bacteria won’t only do wonders for your gut, but they can even increase your number of daily bowel movement. A 2014 study even suggested, “Probiotics may improve whole gut transit time, stool frequency, and stool consistency.” Top your yogurt with some fiber-rich berries and suddenly you’re working double duty. Or should I say “double doodie?” No. No, I shouldn’t.
Smoothies can be formulated in all sorts of ways, including recipes intended to work as insane gut busters. Think about the things already on this list you can throw in there: Oats, prunes, some probiotic-rich yogurt. And if you really want to go bonkers, the sky’s the limit. You can even add flaxseed powder into the mix which, in the right doses, the Mayo Clinic says, “is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation.”
Of course, occasionally desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you don’t have the wherewithal to wait around for fiber to work its way through your system or probiotics to fix your gut flora, you can always turn to coffee. Beyond simulating your mind, caffeine can also stimulate other parts of your body. Granted, coffee isn’t the most filling breakfast, but it’s sure better than starting your day with a cup full of Ex-Lax.
Sure, water isn’t really a breakfast food. But dehydration has been shown to increase the chances of constipation and, depending on what kind of activities you like to partake in at night (cough, bottle of wine, cough), breakfast probably is the perfect time of day to get a rehydration plan on track. If you’re looking to keep pooping on the regular, fitting water into your morning routine certainly won’t hurt.