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Three-Day Colonoscopy Diet

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Three-Day Colonoscopy Diet
White toast on a plate. Photo Credit: aireowrt/iStock/Getty Images

Your gastroenterologist may recommend following a three-day protocol in preparation for your colonoscopy. Following a low-residue diet before your colonoscopy improves bowel cleansing, allowing a more thorough exam, according to Gastroenterology Associates of Tidewater. The three-day protocol involves following a low-residue diet for two days and then following a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure. It's crucial to follow the specific instructions your doctor provides for your individual situation, since not every doctor recommends the same protocol for each patient.

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Dietary Changes

A colonoscopy is a test doctors perform to look at the lining of your intestine. This helps identify any abnormalities such as growths called polyps. If left unchecked, polyps can sometimes lead to serious disease. For the doctor to see into your colon clearly, you must adhere to a low-fiber, low-residue diet a few days prior to the procedure. This type of diet helps decrease fecal output and the amount of food residue in your colon. Doctors commonly instruct you to abstain from solid foods the day before the procedure to further decrease residue.

Low-Residue Foods

On a low-fiber, low-residue diet, you can have refined white breads and pasta, as well as refined hot cereals such as cream of rice. Choose fruit juice without pulp, melons, ripe bananas and canned fruit -- except for pineapple. Go for tender-cooked or canned vegetables, except those on the "avoid" list. You can have eggs, smooth peanut butter without nuts, well-cooked meat, cheese, yogurt, milk and other dairy foods. Allowed snacks include gelatin, pudding, custard and sherbet. Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks are also allowed.

High Residue Foods to Avoid

You'll need to avoid foods high in fiber or that otherwise increase residue in your colon. According to the Gastroenterology Center of the MidSouth, you should steer clear of whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas, raw or steamed vegetables, or vegetables with seeds. In addition, avoid winter squash, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, baked beans, sauerkraut and corn. Other foods not allowed include nuts and seeds, raw or dried fruit, all berries, figs, dates, raisins, prunes, popcorn, pickles, relish, olives, brown or wild rice, potato skins, tofu and dried beans, peas and lentils.

Clear Liquids the Day Before

On a clear liquid diet, you need to avoid drinking anything red, purple or orange. You can have clear liquids such as broth, bouillon or consommé, but need to avoid products with seasoning or particles of dried food. You can have gelatin, flavored ice, clear fruit juices without pulp, soda, tea and black coffee without cream. Avoid milk, alcoholic beverages and nectar and drink plenty of water.

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