Can Eating Too Much Cheese Give Your Kids Constipation?
Cheese is a favorite food for kids. But can chowing down on too much pizza, mac ‘n’ cheese and other cheesy favorites cause your child to have constipation? Here’s what you need to know.
Mac ‘n’ cheese, string cheese, pizza with extra cheese, cheeseburgers — yes, your kid likely loves them all. But is all that cheese in your child’s diet too much of a good thing? Could it cause constipation?
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Cheese and other dairy foods are a good source of calcium and protein. But you may wonder if you should put limits on cheese in your child’s diet.
“When parents bring their child to see me because of constipation, we definitely talk about diet. However, diet is not the only factor,” says pediatric gastroenterologist Jacob Kurowski, MD.
A constipation diagnosis typically means your child has hard stools that are difficult to pass that may also cause pain. Some children will have less than three bowel movements a week and others will pass small amounts frequently throughout the day.
Eating too much cheese, bananas, rice or milk all may contribute to the problem, Dr. Kurowski says. So can a diet low in fiber, water and other fluids.
“I don’t have a major beef with cheese in particular. It’s the culmination of the diet,” he says.
Other factors that also may play a role in causing constipation include stress, a child’s age and other behaviors.
“Children often become constipated because they hold in their stool,” Dr. Kurowski says.
They may do this for a variety of reasons, including:
The size, sounds and location of a toilet are sometimes overwhelming for young children, he says.
Make sure your child eats healthy, well-balanced meals. This is good for your child’s overall well-being in and out of the bathroom.
To do this:
Dr. Kurowski’s goal is to find a diet that works for the child, and to modify any behaviors or obstacles that might cause problems in the bathroom. Typically, he recommends stool softeners at the beginning of treatment with the goal of weaning off of them once diet and behavior has improved.
“If their feet don’t touch the ground when they sit on the toilet, they might need a stepping stool,” he says. “Toilets are built in size for adults, and not for kids.”
If you try adjusting your child’s diet, but constipation persists, see your doctor. A child might be more willing to open up about pooping and other sensitive subjects with a pediatrician trained to ask age-appropriate questions.
The ultimate goal is to make diet and/or behavior modifications so your child is an “effective pooper,” he says.