Vegetarians, tell me about your poops
February 18, 2016 7:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm more of an omnivore than a vegetarian, but I notice a difference in the quality of my bowel movements when my diet gets more leafy vegetable and whole-grain heavy. It gets in the way of my lifestyle sometimes. I'm wondering if anyone has had similar experiences.

If I eat rolled oats in the morning, my poops aren't very coherent - the best way I can describe them is loose, fluffy and mossy. If I eat a lot of vegetables, my poops tend to come out less loose, but still mossy, in clumps like cow patties.

This gets to be a problem when I go out for a long run. I've raced as long as a half-marathon, but only when I'm more prepared and make an effort to clean the system before I go out or eat eggs and bread for breakfast (or steel-cut oatmeal, curiously, but I've only run that experiment once.)

I've seen this infographic. I know ideally, it's supposed to come out smooth like a sausage, and it does when I eat fewer vegetables. I don't really want to eat fewer vegetables. I'm pretty healthy as it is. I'm just curious, does anyone else have this experience? Is making these "cowpatties" normal? Are there ways I can stop them getting the way of my runs?
posted by Borborygmus to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I switch diets is usually when my body gets a little funky. After a couple days of eating no meat, I might end up with some weird poops, but if I maintain that diet for a longer period it gets better. It might be worth going to a dietician or other doctor to figure it out, but I would try to maintain a similar diet for a week or longer and see if it normalizes.
posted by papayaninja at 7:07 AM on February 18, 2016

Like papayaninja, my body seems to respond to the switch in diet rather than the diet itself. And as I get older it takes my body longer to adjust to the changes.
posted by headnsouth at 7:18 AM on February 18, 2016

WashPost had a bit on fiber and what eating more of it can do to you, including bowel issues..
posted by k5.user at 7:57 AM on February 18, 2016

Um, I eat rolled oats every morning for breakfast. I eat beans pretty often. I eat vegetables of various types pretty often.

The only time I notice a difference is when I eat less bean meals.

Eat more beans.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:14 AM on February 18, 2016

I nth the experience of needing time to adjust to a change in diet. There is usually a temporary period where I feel like my body is asking, "Wait, what? How do I process this?" Then it eventually normalizes.
posted by lock sock and barrel at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm just curious, does anyone else have this experience?

Yeah, I've been trying to figure out my digestive system since I started transitioning away from omni a couple years ago. My current working theory is that there is such a thing as too much fiber.* I'm not sure if this is relevant to your situation, but I fell into the mindset of: I should eat more veggies AND I should eat more brown rice instead of white AND I should avoid white bread. But then I seem to have a threshold--if too many of my meals are made up of high-fiber foods (whole grain breakfast cereal, whole grain bread, brown rice, beans, nuts, cabbage, carrots, apples), then everything starts to move through me way too fast. But if I make sure to eat low-fiber foods too, it seems to slow everything down enough for things to absorb and solidify and whatever else goes on in there.

*I know it seems counter-intuitive, because everything you read about how to get better poops is like, "oh eat more fiber!" But I think that advice is geared towards the average person who's eating a hunk of meat (==no fiber) for one or two meals a day.
posted by gueneverey at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Have you tried taking acidophilus? Live bacterial cultures can really change the guttyworks for the better.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2016

Cowpats are not normal for humans. Perhaps your digestive system is intolerant of one or more of the veges you are introducing? My husband has various digestive issues and is looking into the FODMAP elimination diet, as recommended by our GP, to track down the culprits (if you are FODMAP intolerant then such relatively innocuous veges as onion, garlic, asparagus, celery or cauliflower can be problematic).
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 3:17 PM on February 18, 2016

(PS, as a data point and to respond to the titular question, I am vegetarian and have none of the symptoms you describe; in fact, I lean heavily the other way.)
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 3:18 PM on February 18, 2016

Changing your diet will change your poop. If you are adding more veggies/fiber to your diet, your poop will fall apart, literally and figuratively. You need to give your body time to adjust. It's worthwhile to make small changes - add more fiber to ONE meal, instead of having a complete overhaul of your diet. With time, you will adjust, and your poop will go to a (hopefully new) normal. Pooping more is good! Your frequency/consistency may change, but it won't stay loose once you adjust.

There are also certain foods that can help it be less loose, like bananas and water and such.
posted by Amy93 at 6:45 PM on February 18, 2016

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