Taking good care of your health includes regular checkups and screenings. A colonoscopy test allows your doctor to look at the lining of your colon and rectum to check for bleeding, inflammation, polyps, tumors and other abnormalities. Preparing for the procedure involves thoroughly cleansing the bowel through the use of medication and a special diet. The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy recommend a low-fiber and/or full liquid diet the day before a colonoscopy.
Low-Fiber Foods by Group
Following a low-fiber and/or full liquid diet prior to a colonoscopy results in a less bulky stool, which helps ensure adequate bowel cleansing before the procedure. The "Nutrition Care Manual" from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics outlines a low-fiber diet by food group:
-- Dairy: milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, hard cheeses and nut milks.
-- Protein: tender-cooked meat and poultry, eggs, smooth nut butters and tofu.
-- Grains: white bread and pasta, grits, cream of wheat and other refined cereals.
-- Vegetables: canned and soft-cooked vegetables, as well as vegetable juices without seeds.
-- Fruit: canned and well-cooked fruit and fruit juices without pulp.
A full liquid diet includes broth, tea, coffee, soft drinks, gelatin, pulp-free juices, strained milk- and broth-based soups, custards, puddings and milkshakes.
Foods to Avoid on a Low-Fiber Diet
The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer reports that inadequate bowel cleansing occurs in 20 to 25 percent of colonoscopies. So it's important to avoid high-fiber foods, including:
-- Protein: whole nuts, seeds and beans.
-- Grains: popcorn and whole-grain products, such as breads, crackers, pasta and chips.
-- Vegetables: raw or lightly cooked vegetables and those with skins and/or seeds.
-- Fruit: raw or dried fruit and fruit with skins and/or seeds.
If you have questions about your diet before a colonoscopy, check with your doctor or the facility where you will have the procedure.
- Gastroenterology: Optimizing Adequacy of Bowel Cleansing for Colonoscopy: Recommendations From the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer
- Nutrition Care Manual 2014; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: Bowel Preparation Before Colonoscopy
- National Cancer Institute: Tests to Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps