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ASK THE EXPERTS

What foods help if your kid is constipated?

Mother putting lunchbox into child's bag

Dietitian and registered nurse Joanna Baker has some great tips to help if your child suffers from constipation.

Q My eight-year-old struggles with constipation, especially during the school term. What high-fibre foods should I put in his lunchbox to help get things moving?

Rachel, via email

A The cornerstones of healthy digestion start with fibre, fluid and exercise. Fibre adds bulk to stools, making them bigger, softer and easier to pass.

It also helps to increase the frequency of toilet visits. For fibre to work well, it needs fluids: too much fibre and not enough fluids can have the opposite effect, so remind your child to drink lots of water and top up his water bottle throughout the day. Exercise is also good for digestion because it speeds up the digestive tract, pushing things through faster. To include more fibre in your child’s lunchbox, add:

  • Muesli bars with oats and seeds
  • Unpeeled raw carrot, celery or cucumber sticks with hoummos
  • Fresh and dried fruit, especially kiwifruit and pears
  • Date-based bliss balls
  • Sandwiches made with wholemeal or wholegrain bread.

If these changes don’t result in an improvement, it’s time to visit your GP to discuss what else might be going on and other options for improving your child’s discomfort.

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