My 10 year old won’t have a bowel movement for 4 days. He gets real grumpy. Why?

Just think about the physical reasons that put us in bad moods. They are basically the same as those things that make little babies cry. When we don’t eat, we get irritated. When we lack sleep, we get grumpy. And, when we get constipated, we can be just plain miserable. It’s not natural to walk around with 5 days of poop in us. It distends our bellies and makes us walk funny…wouldn’t you be grumpy?

I’m not sure why, but every time I ask any kid how many times a day he or she goes “poopie”, there is always about 5 seconds of dead silence. Then, a big smile will cross their faces, followed by subdued giggling, then uncontrolled laughter. Poopies is a difficult topic to discuss without laughing.

In fact, I’m smirking right now (the word “poopies” just sounds funny). The truth is, it really is a very simple concept. Whatever you eat and your body doesn’t use, you poop out. Depending on what it is you eat will determine how fast it goes through your system, and how often you go “poopie”. Children and adults “normally” have to go poopie every day to every other day. The longer you go without a bowel movement, the harder (literally), it will be.

Your stomach and small bowel break down and crush food. Your large bowel’s job is to reabsorb water from your stool, so as to recycle it. As stool sits in your bowel longer and longer, more and more water is taken out of it. Anyone who has ever been severely constipated knows that when you are finally able to go, it feels like you’re pooping out a rock. Extreme constipation can even require medical attention, to actually “pick out” the hardest part of the stool, so that the rest of it can come out.

Foods full of fiber make your bowels work well and fast. The recommended fiber intake a day is 25-30 grams per day. As an example, an apple has 4 grams of fiber, a baked potato has 8, and a ½ cup of bran cereal has 10 grams.

If your child is 3 to 5 years of age, the average fiber intake is about 11 grams per day. For children 6 to 11 years the average fiber intake is about 13 grams per day. Your child should be eating 2 servings of fruit/day and 3 servings of vegetables/day.

IF the kids see mommy and daddy eating their fruits and veggies, so EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!

Sincerely, Mike