Pooping. It's one thing that you'd think you can't really screw up that badly, right? But it turns out, you've likely been doing it wrong all along.
You're sitting wrong
But it's not all your fault. "Modern plumbing is set up more for our convenience and the aesthetic than how we're designed," says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., an integrative gastroenterologist and author of The Bloat Cure. Meaning: If we were really serious about bowel health, we'd just dig a hole in the floor and be done with it. "We were designed to squat to poop. When we squat, the knees press up against the abs, which increases intra-abdominal pressure to help stool evacuate. When we sit on a toilet, our legs are at a right angle and that doesn't accomplish that," says Chutkan. Instead, you need to strain to have a bowel movement, which can lead to all sorts of problems—like hemorrhoids and even a stretched-out sphincter, Chutkan says. (Umm...) She's a fan of the Squatty Potty ($24, target.com), but says that if you're super-flexible, you could even just pull your feet up onto the toilet seat as you sit on it to achieve the same intra-abdominal pressure. We won't blame if you pass on this one.
You hold it too long
Everyone's been there. You have to "go," but you're already running late to work or are out with only public toilets nearby and don't want to deal, so you don't. But Chutkan says, "Your bowel has its own nervous system that can be trained. When you're getting a signal that you have to go and you don't, it causes bowel confusion, which can lead to constipation."
You take too long
If you're holding it because you just don't have time, you're likely falling prey to another number 2 mistake—taking too long. "Don't drag your phone, a book, a newspaper into the bathroom with you, because that's also a form of bowel training. You're saying, 'We have all day," when you really want to be efficient, in and out," says Chutkan. (Plus, bringing your phone into the bathroom with you is one of the reasons it's teeming with germs.)
You don't take a peek
"I encourage people to TATAL—turn around and take a look," says Chutkan. You're looking at color, consistency, and shape: The ideal bowel movement is darkish brown (or greenish if you eat a lot of plants or this Burger King burger) and not too pale, solid but not too firm (or overly loose), and bulky (not too narrow or small). (Your pee is trying to tell you something too.)
You use tons of TP
You should be wiping pretty clean; if you need to go back for more and more, there's probably still stool in the rectum, and you should hang out on the toilet a little longer, says Chutkan.