Can't keep breakfast in
September 12, 2007 9:48 PM   Subscribe

Breakfast goes through digestive tract like a waterslide.

I know I should eat breakfast every day. My work schedule begins at 7AM, so that means I awaken between 5 and 6AM. I work outdoors thereby needing to pause and take a break when nature calls. Not everywhere has a bathroom, and looking for one may disrupt the flow of the work I'm doing. Holding it in is not an option! This stuff needs to exit my intestines pronto.

This occurs at random, but more often than not I can't keep breakfast in me for more than 20 minutes to an hour before I need to find a bathroom to defecate. I know for certain it is breakfast being expelled because I have seen cereal grains and other breakfast items in the toilet after 'going.'

It isn't a matter of too much fiber in the food. I have eaten on different occasions; boiled peanuts, yogurt with fruit and granola for breakfast, rice and pork stir fry, bagels with peanut butter, without needing to go at all during the day. Yet several days later, these same foods will have me scrambling for a restroom in the span of 20 minutes.

I don't drink any liquid until an hour after ingesting food. Coffee and tea are a laxative to me, so I stay away from those beverages unless there's a sure bet of a bathroom nearby.

How would I go about this digestion problem? I'm worried the food isn't staying inside me long enough for the nutrients to be absorbed thereby being pointless to eat breakfast.
posted by ayc200 to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Rice seems to absorb water even after it is cooked. Try a dish like "Cream of Rice". That stuff can stick to the intestines like glue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 PM on September 12, 2007

Any way you can bring food along with you to work, such as granola or rice cakes, that you could eat very slowly over time?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2007

Umm, this might sound slightly weird, but I too have to go about 20 minutes after breakfast - but only on Saturdays. This has been a source of confusion to me for some time, especially since I pretty much eat the same breakfast as I do on weekdays. So I just assume it's something psychological, or related to my environment, or that I'm relaxed on Saturdays and not eating on the go: I honestly don't know. But what I'm saying is that just because you eat food and then expell food, it's not necessarily the food that's the cause.
posted by forallmankind at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2007

Seconding the thick food suggestion, perhaps a nice oatmeal made with not quite enough water. However, try this for a while on weekends when you're not working to see if it's, er, effective before you commit to it on a work day.
posted by davejay at 10:17 PM on September 12, 2007

If food is running all the way through your system in an hour, you need to see a doctor. In a healthy adult it takes about 36 hours, plus or minus. It's a very long pipeline and material doesn't move through it very rapidly.

It's possible you need to use the bathroom an hour after eating, but what's coming out won't be what you ate an hour earlier.

But you can test this. Trix cereal has quite a lot of food coloring in it, and one of the colors in particular is green. That particular green doesn't get digested or absorbed; it passes through and will strongly color your feces.

Try eating that for breakfast ONE time and see when the green color comes out. I bet it won't be an hour later -- but if it is, see your doctor soonest because something is very, very wrong with you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:29 PM on September 12, 2007 [6 favorites]

I don't eat immediately after waking, and have never liked to do so.

Some days I skip breakfast and opt for an early lunch instead. It's never seemed to cause me any problems. I also second the idea of something you could eat slowly over a period of time.
posted by tomble at 10:29 PM on September 12, 2007

I agree with Steven C. Den Best.

I always figured on a 24 hours timeline. That would mean when you think you're expelling what you just ate 20 minutes ago, it's actually yesterday's.

If not, doctor up.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:36 PM on September 12, 2007

What Steven said. Breakfast does this to me, but I know it's not the same day's breakfast coming out. Can you just get up earlier so you can eat and poop before you leave home?
posted by crabintheocean at 10:39 PM on September 12, 2007

Any substances you habitually use? A lot of cigarette smokers notice this some time after their first smoke of the day. Regular drinkers often experience loose and urgent bowel movements in the morning.
posted by lekvar at 11:13 PM on September 12, 2007

I can't keep breakfast in me for more than 20 minutes to an hour before I need to find a bathroom

I agree that you're seeing yesterday's breakfast. As to why it's hitting you right then, it's your gastrocolic reflex.
posted by kindall at 11:51 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whether or not you choose to see a doctor about this is up to you. However intestinal transit studies are completely awesome, and I've always wanted an excuse to go get one. You swallow a bunch of different shaped radio-opaque markers over a period of time before the test, and then they show up on x-ray spread throughout your colon. The distribution of markers gives an indication of how fast breakfast is passing through you.
posted by roofus at 3:07 AM on September 13, 2007

I've had similar problems in the past, and I've found that eating a lot of fiber (for me, a cup of Bran Buds, which has 39 grams of the stuff) at dinner does the trick, since it gives your body plenty of time to, um, process before the work day starts. Having one high-fiber meal a day also seems to make my GI tract generally happier.

Definitely ramp up the fiber over time, though, and commit to trying the fiber approach for a couple of weeks. It takes time for your body to adjust, and the problem may get worse before it gets better.
posted by backupjesus at 4:44 AM on September 13, 2007

This doesn't sound right to me. I think you need to get on a more regular nightly schedule. The food isn't going through you that fast. It's all in your head, I think. Are you drinking or anything the night before such that it might disrupt your bowels?
posted by caddis at 4:52 AM on September 13, 2007

Pooping after breakfast isn't weird at all.

You are just gonna have to get up earlier, is all.
posted by konolia at 5:40 AM on September 13, 2007

I had a similar thing not too long ago. Same thing - I would eat breakfast - then 20 minutes or so later I better be near a bathroom and fast.

I recently had my gallbladder taken out and I don't get that any more. Related - coincidence? I don't know - but no longer have the issue.
posted by jaythebull at 5:55 AM on September 13, 2007

Eat slower.
posted by Jairus at 5:56 AM on September 13, 2007

Eating prompts defecation, especially in the morning, after your body has had all night to digest food. Can you get up a bit earlier, eat 1st, maybe even have a small coffee, and tend to things before work? Or, bring breakfast and time it so that you will be someplace with a bathroom in 1/2 an hour.
posted by theora55 at 6:21 AM on September 13, 2007

Intestinal transit time of 1 hour which is shorter than gastric emptying time (time for which the food is stored in the stomach before let go further - usually 3 hours) is very unusual. A wild explanation would be a fistula (a misconnection in the pipe) which would be obvious with stools not being fully formed (more like vomitus less like stools).

There is a phenomenon called the gastrocolic reflex which stimulates your colon to empty itself once food hits your stomach. Your description fits well with having a strong gastrocolic reflux.

Some of the above lifestyle modefications might help, if not you may want to see a doctor. There are prescription drugs which can dampen this reflex. Obviously, they should only be taken under direct supervision and orders of a qualified doctor.

I hope this helps.
posted by london302 at 6:59 AM on September 13, 2007

My partner is like that. He can't eat breakfast before 11am, or else he gets diarrhea and feels sick during the day. Every so often he'll be hungry enough where it won't bother him, though.
posted by sian at 7:49 AM on September 13, 2007

It's the coffee!

No, really. Coffee is a stimulant, and can excite the muscles in the intestinal walls. Everything others have said about it not being the same stuff is true, but if you wanna cut out the morning poos, stop drinking coffee daily. I have, and now when I do, I definitely notice more bowel pressure.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2007

I'm also horribly inattentive.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:34 AM on September 13, 2007

Happens to me too. I have to eat two mini-breakfasts instead of one full one. That way I get something in my stomach but not so much that I feel sick and have to find a bathroom asap. I also can't eat until after 8:00am, regardless of what time I get up. If I try to eat earlier, well, waterslide is a good description.

As to whether or not it is yesterday's breakfast or what you just ate, I'm inclined to take your word for it. And unless any of the rest of you have a secret cam hidden inside ayc200's toilet, I suggest you do the same.
posted by atropos at 9:54 AM on September 13, 2007

Definitely not your breakfast. Probably yesterday's breakfast. I notice that my bowels start moving around shortly after I eat, too. I guess this is the gastrocolic reflex that others have mentioned above.
posted by number9dream at 10:39 AM on September 13, 2007

I've had the opposite problem a few times in my life, I get cautious really easily in the morning and have thrown up more than a few times. So I can understand having a sensitive stomach, unfortunately nothing other than drinking a lot of water has helped at all. Now I just try to keep it slow and pace myself in the morning and sometimes I eat bread, which seems to help. Also if you take any medications in the morning that might be making things worse.
posted by whoaali at 12:14 PM on September 13, 2007

This used to happen to me every morning, and finally stopped when I stopped having milk in the morning with my cereal. (I then had a bad time of solely Toaster Strudel for breakfast, before I discovered Silk.)

What is it that you are having for breakfast? If you have the same meal for, say, dinner, do you have the same reaction? If so, you may have an intolerance or allergy.
posted by Xoder at 1:37 PM on September 13, 2007

I always had this problem with eggs and other 'real' breakfast foods and not say, leftover pizza or sauerkraut & sausage (that's a smell that people seem to not like to wake up to .. hmm).

I'm not sure why, but a glass or two of OJ always seemed to help me.
posted by xorry at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2007

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