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Diet for Fecal Incontinence: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Fecal incontinence is the loss of normal control of your bowels. You may not be able to reach the toilet in time for a bowel movement. Or stool may leak from your anus.

This problem can be caused by constipation or diarrhea. Anxiety or other emotional stress can be a cause too. It can also result from nerve injury, muscle damage (especially from childbirth), lack of exercise, or poor diet.

What you eat can help you manage fecal incontinence. Which foods you eat or avoid may depend on why you have the problem.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Keep a food diary of what you eat. This can help you find out which foods may help or cause this problem.
  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • If you and your doctor feel that constipation is part of the problem:
    • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fibre.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • Get some exercise every day. Build up slowly to at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.
    • Take a fibre supplement, such as Benefibre or Metamucil, every day. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If you and your doctor feel that diarrhea is part of the problem, try to avoid:
    • Alcohol.
    • Caffeine. This is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate.
    • Nicotine, from smoking or chewing tobacco.
    • Gas-producing foods. These include beans, broccoli, cabbage, and apples.
    • Dairy products that contain lactose (milk sugar). Examples are ice cream, milk, cheese, and sour cream.
    • Foods and drinks high in sugar, especially fruit juice, soda, candy, and other packaged sweets (such as cookies).
    • Foods high in fat. These include bacon, sausage, butter, oils, and anything deep-fried.
    • Sorbitol and xylitol. These sugar substitutes are found in some sugarless candies and chewing gum.

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.