Celiac Disease and Constipation (and how to relieve it)

Celiac disease constipation is a celiac symptom that seems to fly under the radar. So many of us complain of being married to the toilet after gluten exposure. Yet others experience shall I say a temporary “break” in our relationship with the bathroom.

While it’s not as widely known as other digestive issues associated with celiac disease, constipation can be a symptom of celiac.

In this post I will answer the following questions:

  • Can celiac disease cause constipation?
  • What causes constipation?
  • How can you relieve constipation?

Can celiac disease cause constipation?

Per the Mayo Clinic, constipation is defined as having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week. Basically, if you poop less than 3 times a week, you’re constipated.

And celiac disease can cause constipation. In fact, constipation is one of the 300 known symptoms associated with celiac disease. Other symptoms of celiac include bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, sour stomach, and others.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease Constipation - Tayler Silfverduk, RD - celiac symptoms, coeliac symptoms, coeliac disease symptoms, do I have celiac, do you have celiac, how do I know if I have celiac, gut health, gut problems

What causes celiac disease constipation?​

There are a few things that could cause celiac disease constipation. It could be your diet, lifestyle, or potential exposure to gluten.

Can Eating Gluten-Free Cause Constipation?

While a gluten-free diet can be rich in fiber, it also be low in it. If your diet is low in fiber, well things can get… get backed up.

A gluten-free diet can be low in fiber because gluten-free alternatives aren’t as rich in fiber as their gluten-filled versions. Thus, if you’re struggling with constipation, you may want to look at your eating habits.

For example, are you eating a balance of fruits, vegetables, a whole grains? These foods provide essential sources of fiber that help keep you bowel movements regular.

Constipation and Routine Changes

Your overall lifestyle and routine changes could impact your pooping scheduled.

Not getting enough movement for example, can slow down your digestive tract. Movement is essential to GI health because it helps keep blood circulating to your digestive system. As a result, it helps keep your digestive system moving appropriately to prevent anything from backing up.

The same goes for water and fiber, these two essential nutrients are important to add bulk to and lubricate your poop. Thus, if you’re not getting enough fiber or water, you might find yourself constipated.

Also, any sudden change in your typical eating pattern can upset things. Are you on vacation? Did you just get back from a weekend on the beach? Have you been extra stressed lately? These things can impact your bowel movements too.

Can Gluten Cause Celiac Constipation?

Were you exposed to gluten recently? Gluten can cause constipation with celiac disease. Focus on eating normally and drinking enough water to help encourage things to go back to normal. (I’ll sometimes even drink coffee to help encourage things).

You might also consider building a Gluten-Exposure Recovery Kit that features things you can easily access when you’re glutened. You can find a list of items that I have in mine here if you need inspiration.

Relieving Celiac Constipation

There a few things you can try in order to find relief from celiac disease constipation. Things like:

  • Drink enough water: Water is very important when it comes to healthy poop. It helps keeps things…lubricated. The general recommendation for healthy adults is 8 cups a day.
  • Eat fiber rich foods: If you’re looking to improve celiac constipation via your diet, consider slowly adding in more fiber-rich food. Examples of fiber-rich gluten-free foods include: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole gluten-free grains are all gluten-free fiber-rich options. Make sure you add these foods in slowly. Your body will need time to adjust to the increase in fiber. Also, remember that when you increase your fiber intake, you also need  to increase your water intake.
  • Consider supplements and laxatives: If you’re really struggling with keeping things moving, consider supplements and laxatives. If you choose to go this route, make sure to consult your doctor to make sure your selections are safe for you.
  • Relax: Stress can wreak havoc on your health and bowel movements. Whether you endured a stressful food situation, or you’re just generally stressed, relaxing can help encourage things to move along.
  • Heating pad/compress: A heating pad or compress held to your lower back might help relieve any discomfort you might have there from the back-up. A hot bath or standing in a hot shower could provide similar relief as well.
  • Stomach massage: to relax tension in the abdomen.
  • Get enough sleep and movement: Take a step back and look at your current sleep and movement habits. Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep? Are you engaging in routine enjoyable activity? Might there be some things you can do to help cope with stressors? These things could help with constipation.

In Summary...

Hopefully, this post has provided you some insight on celiac disease constipation. Let me know your favorite form of relief when things get stuck in the comments below.

If you’re concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing (including constipation), speak with your doctor (or dietitian) who specializes in GI disorders like celiac disease. This post, nor any post on my website (Tayler.Silfverduk.us) is meant to take the place of individualized medical care.

Work with a Celiac Dietitian