Your morning routine probably includes taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and quickly chowing down on some breakfast. But there’s one more thing you might want to add to your a.m. to-do list: pooping.
“The ideal time to poop is first thing in the morning,” explains Elana Maser, M.D., gastroenterologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital. In fact, the earlier, the better. “The morning is when you get your strongest colonic contractions,” says Maser. That’s because your small intestine and colon process what you ate the prior day while you were sleeping.
Not much of a morning pooper? Fear not! The best way to get on that schedule is to avoid rushing around in the morning.
“That may mean waking up earlier,” says Maser. “Take time in the morning to sit on the toilet. It sounds simple, but people often do not do this or they get up off the toilet too quickly.”
Ideally, you should be pooping at least once a day, but it’s not abnormal to go more often (or less). Generally speaking, if you eat more, you should be pooping more. This way, explains Maser, you’ll avoid those uncomfortable need-to-poop side effects like bloating, tummy aches, and foul-smelling gas.
“The GI tract likes regularity. It likes consistent meal times, and prefers relaxation over stress. Most people will tell you that when they are on vacation and not rushing off to work or working odd hours, their bowels move better,” says Maser.
If you’re not regular, though, don’t panic—most of the time irregularity is not a sign of a deeper problem. “The best way to stay regular is to eat three meals a day at the same time every day,” says Maser “Drink lots of water, and eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Avoid junk food, specifically candies and gummies, and exercise often.”
In the case that you were regular and are no longer, consider checking in with your doctor.
Got it? Good. Now remember to set your alarm just a tad earlier tomorrow.