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What Can You Eat When Preparing for a Colonoscopy?

author image Robert DiPardo
Robert DiPardo has been a pharmaceutical chemist for more than 30 years. He has co-authored several scientific publications on cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease and other therapeutic areas. DiPardo retired from drug discovery research in 2009 and, since 2010, has covered fitness and well-being for various online publications. DiPardo holds a Master of Science in organic chemistry from Yale University.
What Can You Eat When Preparing for a Colonoscopy?
A woman eats a bowl of soup with clear broth. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to view the inner lining of the rectum and colon. The doctor uses a colonoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end, to take pictures or video of the colon. A successful colonoscopy requires that the patient's colon be completely cleaned out in advance. To accomplish this, follow a special diet beginning three to four days before the colonoscopy.

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Easily Digestible Foods

Patients should focus on eating only easily digested foods three to four days before their colonoscopy, explains the Colon Cancer Resource website. Such choices include skinless chicken, skinless potatoes, cheese, eggs, steamed white fish and clear soups.

Avoid eating fatty foods such as red meat, and you should not consume foods high in fiber in the days leading up to your colonoscopy since this could increase activity in your colon, reducing your doctor’s visibility. High fiber foods may include certain vegetables, nuts, fruit, whole-grain pasta, cereals, bran and seeds.

Colored Foods

Red, orange or purple beverages may leave a colored residue on the walls of the colon, and this residue may look like blood in the colonoscopy video, so these beverages should be avoided for two days before the test. As well, you should not consume dark-colored gelatin since this could have the same effect.

Clear Liquids

According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, consume only clear liquids starting the day before the colonoscopy procedure and continuing until six to eight hours before the procedure. Clear liquids are those that are transparent at room temperature, including broths, apple juice, clear soft drinks, tea and coffee, without added milk or creamer.

Day Before Procedure Sample Menu

The John Hopkins Health Alerts lists specific clear liquid food items and amounts that a patient may have the day before a colonoscopy. Breakfast might include 8 ounces of apple juice, 1 cup of gelatin and 1 cup of coffee with sugar. For lunch, have 1 cup of chicken consommé, 8 ounces of ginger ale, 1 cup of fruit ice and hot tea with sugar. An afternoon snack may consist of one or two hard candies that do not contain chocolate or dark food dyes. A sample dinner might include 1 cup of beef broth, 8 ounces of lemonade, 1 cup of lemon gelatin and hot tea with sugar and lemon.

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