Compared to other preventative screenings, colonoscopies require extra time and preparation. Think about it: you don’t have to do anything to prepare for a vision screening, mammogram or prostate cancer screening. You simply show up for your appointment and no preparation is required. Colonoscopies are unique because you must completely empty the bowel to give your doctor a clear view of your colon. A clean colon gives your doctor the best opportunity to find and remove precancerous polyps.
Modify your diet a few days before the colonoscopy
Colonoscopy preparation actually begins several days before the procedure. Everyone is familiar with the clear liquid diet on the day before the colonoscopy, but your doctor may suggest a low-fiber diet about three to five days before your colonoscopy. It includes dairy, refined carbohydrates, fats, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables without peels. Eliminating high-fiber foods a few days prior will minimize the production of waste, make the purgative process easier and result in a higher quality colonoscopy.
Here are some examples of foods that you can eat on the days leading up to your colonoscopy:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream
- White rice, white bread, refined pasta, refined crackers, breakfast cereals
- Applesauce, canned vegetables, fruits without seeds or skin
- Chicken, pork, seafood
- Salad dressing, butter, ice cream, pudding
Your doctor will give you a comprehensive list of permissible foods at your consultation appointment.
Consume clear liquids on the day before the colonoscopy
On the day before the colonoscopy, you will be drinking the purgative colonoscopy preparation solution to clear your bowel. You can also consume clear liquids that day such as juices, soft drinks, black coffee, plain tea, strained broths, and Jell-O and popsicles (no red or purple). On the day of your procedure, your doctor may restrict you to water only.
Diet modifications are only temporary
No one looks forward to colonoscopy preparation, but try to remind yourself that it is only for a short time. You may actually find yourself looking forward to abandoning your high-fiber/low-fat diet for a few days and indulging in some creamy desserts and your favorite childhood breakfast cereal. Don’t get too comfortable, though. You’ll need to go back to whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and limited fats after your colonoscopy, but you might as well enjoy a few extra treats while you can!