Eat, Pray, Push

Newcomer to the Wheat Belly lifestyle is JM, who posted this request for some feedback on bowel experiences:

I am a 54 yr old male. Former high school and college athlete. Strong, and look quite a bit younger than my age. Honestly, I “LOOK” very healthy.

My lifelong health weak link has been digestive/eliminative with tendency to CONSTIPATION. Any disruption in schedule would have the potential to aggravate the condition. I could be almost guaranteed to be locked tighter than a drum after a flight, for example. I’ve always been envious of my friends who moved their bowels with ease and like clockwork.

Trial and error taught me some years ago that steamed veggies for breakfast produced regular, satisfying, “clockwork-like” elimination! It was phenomenal.

2+ yrs ago — seemingly over night (!) — this protocol stopped working dead in its tracks. I have been constipated every day since, and am resigned to several unsatisfying enemas/week.

I’ve tried multiple approaches around diet (oils, etc) and supplements. I always keep refined carbs to a minimum. I’ve played with reducing gluten, but a month ago I eliminated it entirely, although I’ve used some GF [gluten-free] bread (sparingly). No change. Starting today, I will dump ALL forms of wheat and see what that brings.

Does anyone on the board have a similar story??

Thanks all,

This reminds me of Susan’s story. You may recall that Susan suffered from something called obstipation, or the most severe form of constipation, in which she moved her bowels once every several weeks. Within 3 days of eliminating all wheat, she lost 20 pounds of stool followed by normal bowel regularity.

Anyone want to weigh in for JM? Okay to keep anonymous on this one, as it can be a bit embarrassing!

Here is a previous Wheat Belly Blog post about simple strategies to loosen things up after losing the wheat.

For you Advanced Poopers out there, take a look at the wonderful Sean Croxton’s video, Poopin 2.0, for additional insights.

This entry was posted in Gastrointestinal effects of wheat. Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Eat, Pray, Push

  1. Sonia says:

    I would like to see a basic outline of your daily food intake.. You need to be having/doing:

    A) water
    B) fats (grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, eggs…)
    C) exercise…. Yep, movement..

    So, let’s see ht you’re putting in there and doing with your bod. Sounds terrible having to do te enema thing!! You could also try slippery elm mixed in some yoghurt..

    Look forward to seeing what you’re eating! :)

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, I did see it.

      While I am grateful that they are talking about it, I cringed when I saw the closing comments.

      There is no way around it: Modern wheat is poison and it cannot be undone by such things as sprouting it.

      • Mrl says:

        I totally agree, I have a lot of people ask me about sprouting it, if it’s in the genes no amount of sprouting will get rid of it!

  2. Janne says:

    Magnesium supplements. Flax/psyllium and lots of water. Exercise. Lot s of healthy oils. Good advice to ‘go sit’ every day at the same time.

  3. JJ says:

    Yes I used to have big problems with this. Fibre and things like psyllum just made it worse, and eventually the laxatives stop working. I was already wheat and gluten free but it didn’t help. It was only when I went low carb and started adding more fat to my diet that the problem eased. Three crispy lamp chops with fat on work a treat for me.

  4. JIllOz says:

    Dr Davis,
    you’ve mentioned thyroid issues.
    My last test results are:
    TSH 1.32 (0.35 – 5.50) mIUL
    Euthyroid TSH.

    I gather that my result is the lower end of the above little scale.
    Can you please tell me if this 1.32 result is good or bad, too low, too high or just right?
    I have started taking kelp again a few days ago but was not on it when I took this test.

    Any comments appreciated!!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Based just on TSH, Jill, this is pretty good: the lower the TSH, the better.

      Next time, consider insisting that a free T3 and free T4 and reverse T3 be run to get a fully picture of thyroid status. There are occasional people who have thyroid dysfunction yet have the appearance of normal TSH.

  5. JM says:

    Hi Sonia,
    Thanks. I eat very cleanly. I haven’t been down the middle aisles of a supermarket in yrs. Here’s a typical day –

    Brkfast — Glass of water, Steamed broccoli or asparagus, olive oil, 1-2 soft boiled eggs (In past – gluten-free toast. Now zero bread), cup of coffee – black, 1 sugar

    Lunch — Salad (made by me) with grilled chicken or salmon – lettuce, tomato, onion, goat cheese, fresh mint, olive oil/fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper. Occas apple. Water or occas iced coffee. No bread.

    3 PM — Gluten-less FRUITION bar (from Pro Bar). Water.

    Dinner — Vegetable(s), hummous, avocado, olives, etc., chicken or fish or occasional organic ground beef — or perhaps NO perhaps animal protein…

    I probably drink too little water through the day. Maybe once/week I might have a piece of chocolate – a small Snickers bar or such… or gluten-free choc chip cookie. I never touch donuts, crap fast food, pizza (damn!), hot buns, etc., etc…


    • Heather says:

      JM, I was diagnosed with IBS in 1965 when I was 11 years old. I have suffered from chronic constipation my entire life. I, too, would get plugged up all the time. My doctor says I just have a lazy colon. HA!! I used to eat an enormous bowl of high fibre cereal every morning loaded with bran buds, oat bran and psyllium husks. Incidentally, I was always starving by mid-morning and never knew why. I went wheat free in mid-July of this year and haven’t been constipated once. Try eating the flax seed wrap in Dr. D’s book every morning. Instead of the spices, I add a heaping tsp of cinnamon to the batter and then spread the wrap with peanut butter. Also, try eating Dr. D’s granola every other morning and eat more nuts too. Keep us posted.

    • PJ says:

      JM, you may want to consider your intestinal bacteria status. Fermented foods and/or a good probiotic may help and certainly wouldn’t hurt. You may want to completely eliminate the sugars from your diet as these can increase the yeasts and fungi in your gut. Sounds like you could use more good fats in your daily diet.

    • Kay says:

      Try more nuts and lots of water!
      Since I have been wheat (and almost ALL grains) free, I have been using almond flour for baking and almonds for snacking.
      I drink at least 2 Liters of water per day.
      I now have the most regular bowel habits I have ever had.

    • AD says:

      Sure you definitely eat clean, looks more like you don’t eat enough. Your metabolism would of slowed and your bowels et al. have stopped working. You probably need to exercise more and eat more.

    • ORapunzel says:


      That Fruition bar contains oats. Oats are still a problem for many people who must avoid gluten. So, I’d ditch ALL GRAINS for at least 2 months, not just gluten. (The 2 month time period would give your digestive tract a chance to repair and improve.)

      Furthermore, avoid snickers or any mainstream chocolate or candy bar. If you want chocolate, find a bar that’s labeled gluten-free. Otherwise, don’t eat it.

      Next, you might try dropping all forms of dairy, as well, b/c dairy is also a problem for many people (though they don’t realize it). I’m one of those people. (Sigh) What many tend to forget is that cow’s milk is meant to nourish an 80lb calf and grow it to several hundred pounds in the space of several months. That’s massive growth! (I grew up on a dairy farm, btw, and saw this first-hand.) That means, the nutrient make-up in cow’s milk is meant for that calf…and that particular nutrient make-up does a number on the human body, though most do not realize it. Some experience worse effects than others. So, it’s quite possible any and all forms of dairy are an issue for your body…as they are for mine.

      Furthermore, dairy might not be the only problem. Corn is another one. So is soy. Both of which are now seriously genetically modified…and those GM effects are untested on the human body.

      You might even cut out nuts for a while, too.

      In fact, cut out all these things. Keep a food diary of what you intake each day, along with noting how you feel and if your bowels improve. Give yourself at least 2 months off the dairy but for everything else, you could do 2-4 weeks off them.

      Then…VERY SLOWLY…add nuts back in. Wait at least a week and see what happens. Record your findings in your food diary. Next, add soy back. Again, wait, observe, record. …And so on….

      Lastly but also *very* important, consume a minimum of 80-96oz of clean water a day! If you’re drinking tap water, try spring water or reverse osmosis water. Read the book “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj for excellent information on why we all need to consume more water!

      If after doing all these things and you’re still not experiencing results, it’s quite possible there’s still another unidentified food allergy wreaking havoc for you. Watch your food diary and look for potential triggers.

      Lastly…be very careful regarding your sources for meat. Animals on these large farm operations are fed items that were they were never meant to consume, and those products end up in the meats. So, you’re eating what they ate and with what they were injected. Find organic sources of meat, preferably from local small farmers, grass-fed beef, chickens and turkey that are NOT fed grains (which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t what they were meant to consume as their primary means of nourishment, either). It’s more common that people realize – folks who react to the meat of grain-fed, antibiotic-and/or-chemical-injected animals.

      Do your detective work. I promise you that it will be worth it!

      HTH! …and let us know what worked for you!! :-)

  6. Firebird7478 says:

    What makes me go and is VERY effective is bacon! Within an hour of eating bacon, I get the urge.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hmmmm. Sure it doesn’t have wheat flour in it, Firebird? Or some other colon irritant?

      • Robin says:

        We eat dry-cured bacon which has no nitrates. This is okay?

        • Dr. Davis says:

          Yeah, I think that’s fine, Robin.

          • Jennifer Snow says:

            I, personally, would say you’re low on fat, there. I’ve been doing a low-carb (and yes, wheat-free) diet for over a year and I’ve found getting the digestive tract in good working order takes some effort, but it’s SO worth it. Anyway, here are my results from my various n=1 experiments on myself.

            (I seesawwed back and forth between diarrhea and constipation, no fun, so I have lists for both.)

            When I have the Runs:
            Eat more sodium
            stop taking magnesium for 3-5 days
            stop taking potassium for 3-5 days
            increase protein intake (for me, this means eating *slightly* leaner meat)
            some dairy other than butter (usually cream)

            when I am constipated
            cut back on sodium
            take magnesium
            take potassium
            increase fat intake
            eat a ton of raw vegetables positively drenched in oil/vinegar dressing–this serves more to increase the *amount* of poo so you’ll go *more often*, the fiber, for me at least, doesn’t seem to have any effect on whether I’m actually constipated or not.
            eat nuts (not peanuts, those are a legume)
            no eggs
            no dairy other than butter

            I had severe diarrhea last month accompanied by feelings of exhaustion until I RADICALLY increased my salt intake. I’d switched to sea salt and I was going light on it in the thinking that this would be good for me. WRONG. Since I more or less quit carbohydrates my body cannot seem ti retain sodium, so I have to eat what some might consider prodigious amounts of the stuff to maintain my energy levels and not feel like the ocean is sloshing around in my bowels. The opposite of your problem, I know, but I found it’s rather easy to go too much the other direction when you have a problem. Balancing sodium, potassium, and magnesium levels seem to be key.

            Oh, and if you get REALLY blocked up, try taking a ton (like, 5000 mg or more spread out over the day) of VITAMIN C as this has also been known to loosen the bowels appreciably. It won’t hurt you and a lot of people are somewhat deficient in this essential nutrient, anyway.

          • Dr. Davis says:

            Excellent, Jennifer!

            You are coming to some of the same conclusions that many others are coming to, especially about salt/sodium “supplementation” when you are wheat-free and low-carb.

            Shook my sea salt shaker several times today!

          • Robin says:

            Great! Thanks Dr

  7. flyingq says:

    Eat lots of nuts… almonds, pecans, walnuts… and you won’t have this problem. I also eat wheat-free. The nuts supply magnesium. Days when I don’t eat nuts, I have different elimination.

  8. Peg says:

    I went low carb last Nov. and have lost 40 pounds that are staying off, but I still had to be very careful to eat enough plant foods when eating wheat crackers, or constipation was a problem. Since finding this website, and quitting wheat, all I’ve done is replaced wheat with an equal volume of more veggies. I was already a vegetarian, since 1987. I keep up my normal walking exercise routine. And wow! No more wheat, no more constipation! Everything moves just fine. First benefit showed up really, really fast! I’m relieved.

    Thank you Dr. Davis, for your good advice, and everyone who comments, for the support here.

    Just yesterday night, I attended my first group gathering since quitting wheat – a picnic where wheat was prevalent – buns, crackers, cookies and brownies. I did not eat any of it. I brought my own summer vegetable salad with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese, and had some of the waldorf salad, with fruit, celery and nuts, but no wheat. Today, my body thanks me by not being sluggish.

    I am looking forward to seeing what other changes this will bring me.

    Regards, Peg

    • Dr. Davis says:

      That’s wonderful, Peg! And it’s good to hear that you are doing this successful while adhering to your vegetarian philosophy.

  9. Roger says:

    Life-Long Bowel Problems–GONE since 1 Mar. 2012–when I lost the Wheat!

    Roger, OHIO

  10. Dreamer says:

    I use the SquattyPotty foot stool when doing a BM. It really helps my elimination a lot. See for more information on the health benefits.

  11. Jenny says:

    I was still mildly constipated in spite of being gluten free (and not replacing with substitutes) for the last 7 years.

    What has finally solved it for me is also eating Low Oxalates – the likely cause have been 2 weeks of Augmentin for a very serious ear infection. There are some good lists on the web of low oxalate foods – which match pretty well with Paleo.

    Replace the grains and carbs with more vegetables – I even have them at breakfast time.

  12. Michelle says:

    Magnesium could be a great help here, and you might need more than you would think. I recommend the book The Magnesium Miracle, by Carolyn Dean, MD. You’re doing great; keep up the good work!

  13. Cece4184 says:

    I had the opposite effect when I gave up gluten last October after reading Wheat Belly — diarrhea! Turned out I have lactose intolerance, too. Then I was sensitive to GF foods (I’m a baker), had to give them up. I found out that I do best on an almost straight Paleo diet these days.

  14. Robin says:

    Boy! You’re looking gooooood!!!!

  15. Sherry says:

    Try leaving off fluids when you eat a big meal. Give your food 2 hours to digest, then drink fluids.
    Also, Chris Kresser has a good article on FODMAP foods, and how they can worsen the digestion for some people. Might make a difference in the KINDS of veggies you eat, how they are combined, or how they are prepared. If you like the brassicas (broccoli, kale), these might be implicated, and not in a nice way. Apple Cider Vinegar (gluten-free) can also be helpful for elimination.

  16. Dawn says:

    I found that after being wheat free for 8 months, the mixture of some lifestyle changes can ease things in this category. I find that adding fresh veggie’s, steamed or lightly sauteed in olive oil/garlic to like 7 to 10 servings per day, and take some additional organic unrefined coconut oil with the last or biggest meal. I also found that eating fresh juicy kiwi’s either green or golden (once a week) can be beneficial too, I think it is in the juice. Consuming 3 to 4 oz. wild sockeye salmon that has the natural omega’s every day for a couple of weeks also aides to keep regular. Always the more the water drank can help, but I find that drinking about 1 cup per hour is key to helping things along. And, eating plenty of raw organic nuts like brazil, pistachio, hazel, and pecans plus a stable supply of walnuts and almonds throughout the day. One of my favorites is treating myself to occasional plain, full fat, plain yogurt such as Dreaming Cow brand, it has natural cultures that promote healing. Basically, it is a team effort of a variety of focus attempts that have made somewhat of a difference in keeping regular. I am still losing weight and have lost some 33 pounds. I would like to continue to work out with cardio and strength training for a total of 240 minutes per week, as to try to keep muscles and lose the fat and create energy to keep on moving a bowel movement.

  17. Sarah says:

    After only three days of completely a wheat free diet, I’m have a normal BM every day for the past two days. Unheard of in my bathroom, unless I’m having a gallbladder attack and running to it every other moment. Feeling great with less blotting and no pain and nausea for the gallbladder either.