A colonoscopy requires the gastrointestinal tract to be empty and free of food and fluids. A change in your eating habits to a low-fiber diet is required several days before the procedure. The exam is often performed to check for colorectal cancer and other abnormal changes occurring in the large intestine, according to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. Though the exam takes less than an hour, following the proper preparation guidelines is critical. If a low-fiber diet is not strictly followed as directed you may have to repeat the colonoscopy or test results may not be accurate. Any questions regarding the low-fiber diet should be directed toward your health care provider.
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Fruits, vegetables and grains all contain fiber. Fiber cannot be digested. When consuming large amounts of fiber before a colonoscopy, you are creating additional bulk to your stool. The undigested material may remain in your digestive tract and block the small camera on the scope during the exam. A low-fiber diet generally begins about three days before the exam, according to Virginia Mason. The day before the exam, most patients switch to a clear liquid diet.
Bread, Pasta and Rice
Avoid eating whole wheat bread and opt for white bread instead before your colonoscopy, according to the gastroenterology team at Virginia Mason. The website also states do not eat any breads or rolls with nuts, seeds or fruit. Choose waffles and pancakes for breakfast. Potatoes can be included in your diet, but only if peeled. Substitute brown or wild rice for white rice. Plain crackers and saltines are low in fiber and make great snacks before your colonoscopy.
Only tender and cooked vegetables are allowed on your low-fiber diet, according to Lakeview Hospital. Still, some medical providers may not recommend any vegetables, advises Drugs.com. Ask your medical provider if and when you can continue to eat vegetables. These veggies include beans such as green or wax beans. Carrots, asparagus, yellow squash and other soft, seedless veggies are allowed in your diet, advises Dubuque Internal Medicine. Vegetables to avoid include winter squash, peas, broccoli, cabbage and beans—all high-fiber vegetables. Do not eat raw or steamed vegetables.
Most fruits and vegetables should be avoided when following a low-fiber diet before your colonoscopy. Still some fruits can be enjoyed, on a very limited basis. Limit your intake to no more than 1 cup of fruits or vegetables per day, and avoid all berries, prunes and figs, according to Lakeview Hospital. Drink pulp-free fruit juice, and eat canned fruit, except for pineapple. Continue to eat bananas and melon, both low in fiber.
Meat and Dairy Products
Tender meat that is not difficult to digest is ideal before your colonoscopy. This includes shredded chicken and fish. Peanut butter remains a good source of protein and energy, but limit your intake to 2 tbsp. of smooth peanut butter daily, according to MayoClinic.com. Eggs, milk and yogurt without granola or nuts is permitted.