6 Foods That Can Cause Constipation

by Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

Constipation is a tricky problem. You have to find the right balance of nutrients and water in order to relieve and prevent future problems. Unfortunately, there may be foods you are currently eating that could be contributing to the problem. Check out this list of constipating foods to remove these culprits from your diet.


Certain types of diary products can slow down digestion and get you feeling backed up quickly. High-fat dairy like whole milk, cheese and ice cream are a few of the leading culprits. This is because of the high fat, sugar and sodium content of many of these foods. This problem is often seen in children who are drinking whole milk frequently. If you love your dairy but not the nasty side effects then stick with low-fat dairy and try to find probiotic-rich sources, which can be soothing to the gut.

High-Fat Foods

Fat is known for it satiating power. That is because fat takes more time to digest and slows down the emptying in the stomach. When healthy fats are consumed in proper amounts this can be great for the body, but when excessive amounts of unhealthy fats sneak into the diet you can be backed up before you know it. To avoid this problem, it is best to avoid fried foods, greasy chips or red meats in favor of healthy fats like olive oil or avocado.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates like candy, white breads, cakes, chips and others can all slow down movement through the digestive tract. This is because, while high in fat and calories, these foods often lack fluid and fiber. This combo is a recipe for constipation. If you are craving something sweet try fresh berries and Greek yogurt. The combo of protein, fiber and probiotics is soothing to the gut.

Convenience Foods

For better, and mostly for worse, convenience foods have become a staple in most American diets. Whether this is the packaged quick grabs at the grocery store, frozen meals or fast foods- all have the potential to wreak havoc on your gut. The problem with most convenience foods is that they are high in fat, sugar and salt. All of which can slow down digestion. These types of foods also tend to be low in digestion aids like fiber.

Try to eliminate convenience foods and stick to the outer edge of the grocery store as much as possible. The outer edge of most stores is where you'll find most of the fresh, whole foods that are good for the gut.


Bananas, specifically greener ones, have long been known for their constipating powers. As part of the B.R.A.T (banana, rice, applesauce and toast) diet it is often used to relieve diarrhea. If you love bananas but not the constipation that comes with them, stick to very ripe bananas. They are not as constipating as greener versions.

Red Meats

A few servings of red meat per week combined with inadequate fiber and water intake can lead to constipation quickly. This is because of the high-fat content of red meat and the tendency for it to take the place of healthier options. Choosing low-fat red meats, eating it only once per week and combining it with fiber-rich foods like non starchy veggies can help prevent getting backed up.

If you avoid foods that cause constipation while focusing on increasing fluids and fiber your gut will thank you.

Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson
Meet Our Writer
Jennifer Mitchell Wilson

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson is a dietitian and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.