Wanna be a once-a-day man
December 15, 2007 4:51 AM   Subscribe

Help me go to the toilet less often!

We're talking #2s here.

As an adult I've often had, owing to a diet consisting of alcohol and pizza, periods where I mostly produced watery, splattery stuff, several times a day. (Trying to keep the description to a minimum here.)

Recently I've tried to modify my diet. Not obsessively or anything, but a lot of brown bread, rice, nuts, bananas, beans etc. Still a lot of alcohol though, I have to admit.

It's been reasonably successful in terms of, er, thickening things, but I'm having to go several times a day still.

Am I eating the right foods? I'm pretty ignorant about this: I just try to eat anything that seems to have high fibre on the packet. What would help me to get everything out in one go (or two)?

Part of this might be in my head. On days I spend alone, I can often go one or two times, and in the evening though I COULD manage to produce something I can leave it till morning if I like.

Other days, especially when I'm meeting my girlfriend, I get stressed beforehand and make repeated visits to the bathroom throughout the day before I meet her, trying to get rid of absolutely everything. If I have that feeling that I COULD go when I'm with her it's quite distracting, and even puts me off sex.

Maybe everyone feels they could go most of the time but it doesn't bother them. Does it just take practice?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
Bananas bind up babies.
And they're full of good stuff too.
posted by taff at 4:55 AM on December 15, 2007

I'm not a doctor, but FWIW, going 2- 3 times a day isn't a bad thing. I would think that if its always 'watery' you should see a doctor. They may have something to help you get regular again. What type of alcohol are you consuming?
posted by thetenthstory at 4:58 AM on December 15, 2007

... Too much beer can give you the "beer shits".
posted by thetenthstory at 4:59 AM on December 15, 2007


Firstly, how much of a change have you made to your diet? Secondly, how quickly did you make it?

Human digestive systems aren't designed to cope with very rapid changes in food intake, or changes to the type of food, very well. Think of it like this - you speak English. One day, you suddenly have to start communicating with someone in say, Arabic. It's going to take time for you to be able to speak in Arabic because you need to learn to speak the language. It's the same for your digestive system. It can't handle all the new foods all of a sudden, so it does what it knows best. Adding lots of fibre isn't going to help matters, because it's just producing bulk that your system can't handle.

Try having just one meal a day that's different to your normal diet for a few weeks, and build it up from there. For example, a banana sandwich on brown bread, or some wholegrain cereal. Don't try to rush things. In time, wean yourself onto a high fibre diet, once things have calmed down a little bit. Use your stools as a "barometer" of whether you're going too fast.

Also, look into what Gillian McKeith has to say. She is, IMHO, obsessed with sh*t. She has her own TV show in the UK, where she makes people keep stool samples and then discusses them with the "owner", on the TV, while actually showing the sample to the camera. If you can get past that, and the hard sell about food supplements, she actually talks a lot of sense about improving one's diet.

The other thing that struck me is what you said about it might be in your head. That's quite possible. When the human body gets stressed, adrenaline is released, which, among other things, causes the digestive system to be disrupted. People often say they were "sh*tting themselves" when something scary happens. If you're getting stressed out about your bodily functions when you're with your girlfriend, it's going to have a rapid effect on your digestive system. Catch-22.

Try not to worry too much about it, and take your tme introducing new foods into your diet. And see your Dr too, to see if s/he has any suggestions. Don't worry about being embarrassed - they've had to deal with way worse things than anything you could bring up in conversation.
posted by Rabulah at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2007

Reducing or eliminating caffeine may help
posted by selfmedicating at 5:37 AM on December 15, 2007

In my experience, that's not too normal... one trip a day is more usual, maybe two, morning and evening.

Stop the alcohol for a week or so to see what happens. If it makes no difference, that tells you that booze is probably fine. Then cut out foods gradually, about one every other day, until you're down basically to just white rice. If you're still having trouble on white rice, then you should probably talk to a doctor.

Otherwise, you'll improve suddenly, and then just experiment with the foods you stopped eating to figure out which of them set you off. (there could be several.)

Yes, this is a pain. I realize that. But it's knowledge that will serve you for your entire life, and you probably only have to do it once.

Oh, after the booze experiment, the very first thing to remove from your diet: all dairy products. Lactose intolerance usually makes you gassy, but if you have a different form of it, it might cause this issue. Remove eggs next, if you eat those. From there, remove the foods you eat most, first.
posted by Malor at 5:41 AM on December 15, 2007

Since you've gotten the diarrhea under control, it sounds like you have the same problem a couple of people I know have. When they get stressed, they have to shit. Deal with your stress, and the inconvenient shitting should resolve itself.

It also sounds like you've become a bit obessive over it, what with choosing to use the toilet several times before meeting your girlfriend, which is probably only reinforcing your obsession with your shitting habits.
posted by wierdo at 5:46 AM on December 15, 2007

If you've been a 2-3 times per day man basically your entire adult life (not knowing your age), that's probably just how you are. I have to modify my diet and exercise immensely to go even once per day. (I won't even tell you how many days I've gone without.) And that's just how I am. I know others who go 2-3 times a day, and that's just how they are. Binge drinking works for me as a laxative, but regular daily amounts of alcohol (and pizza, too) don't have any effect. So I wouldn't personally blame diet only. Though there's nothing wrong (and everything right!!) with improving your diet.

Also, the stress, it messes with the bowels. You might have a vicious little self-reinforcing cycle going on.
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:59 AM on December 15, 2007

i don't have any advice for your current situation, but i can definitely assure you, the longer you date someone, the more, er, "comfortable" you get when it comes to matters of digestion.
posted by tastycracker at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2007

Nth-ing that stress/anxiety = lots of unpleasant BMs. When I am really anxious about stuff, I like to be sure that I can get to a bathroom easily. Not being near one can add to the anxiety, which keeps the cycle going. Obsessing over it makes it even worse and like others said, causes a nasty little cycle to start.

As for not wanting to have to use the toilet while you are with your girlfriend, that is probably a big part of why you're cycling like this. Do you see her regularly? If you do, your body is trying to follow your brain's desire of "can't go when she's around so let's get it all out now" which leads to watery, splatter-y BMs you mention.

What may stop the cycle would be to have a BM when you are with your girlfriend. It may be easier to do this if you are in let's say, a restaurant where you can excuse yourself and she's not right in the next room and can't possibly hear what you're doing. Then once that is successful, try to do it when the two of you are at your house. If you can, you may want to subtly get her to a place in the house that's away from the bathroom. Once you do that, you can try the same thing at her place.

You may never turn into the couple that says "okay, gotta take a big dump, pass me the newspaper honey", but not using the toilet when she's around is making your toilet habits uncomfortable for you. Remembering that we all have to go to the bathroom (and we've all had less than pleasant moments) helps make this a little less embarrassing.
posted by melissa at 6:28 AM on December 15, 2007

How much do you eat in a day? I would stop the fast food (so much bad stuff that goes right through you) .
posted by majortom1981 at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2007

You might look into Celiac or gluten intolerance (similar, but slightly different). Either often cause D & the need to go multiple times a day. You can have a blood test to check for Celiac (but you can have a false negative). You can also just try cutting gluten out of your diet for a month and see if things improve. (Gluten is in wheat, barley, rye and oats.) Often, people with Celiac or gluten intolerance also have a problem with dairy, so you might cut that out along with the gluten for a trial period.
posted by moonlite at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2007

There are different types of fibers. You may have something similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in which case you might have trouble with insoluble fibers (and alcohol, dairy, and possibly other foods). You could try an IBS diet (which would require you to cut back a lot on alcohol) and see if it helps.

IANAD, ymmv, etc...

Do you eat any vegetables? You may just first off want to try a well-balanced diet. I don't see vegetables on your list of what you are eating, and no fruit other than bananas.
posted by veronitron at 9:16 AM on December 15, 2007

Could be IBS. Consult your physician . . .
posted by 6:1 at 9:21 AM on December 15, 2007

Dude, some people would kill to be that regular.

It has nothing to do with your diet (which sounds fine) and everything to do with your stress level.

If it's bothering you so much that you can't enjoy being with your girlfriend, I'd consider seeing a shrink. I mean, you can't have sex because you're too anxious? Time to see a professional.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2007

It's definitely the alcohol. Bottom line. If I drink too much wine, i have watery poop. If I have none, it's normal.
posted by WaterSprite at 12:13 PM on December 15, 2007

IBS might be a lead. I know someone who has similar issues, and has had success from taking anti-stress meds and cutting out certain foods. But yes, consulting a Gastroenterologist may be a grand idea. What you describe is not good. Godspeed!
posted by wowbobwow at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2007

"Also, look into what Gillian McKeith has to say. She is, IMHO, obsessed with sh*t. She has her own TV show in the UK, where she makes people keep stool samples and then discusses them with the "owner", on the TV, while actually showing the sample to the camera. If you can get past that, and the hard sell about food supplements, she actually talks a lot of sense about improving one's diet."

Ben Goldacre on the 'awful poo lady', her dubious qualifications, her litigiousness and why her advice is simply bad science.
posted by Ness at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2007

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