Pre-colonoscopy diet

Before having a colonoscopy, you need to empty your colon so that your doctor can see the inside of your colon clearly during your procedure. You will, therefore, be asked to fast the day before your procedure and take a strong laxative. 

What can I eat before a colonoscopy?

Your care team will advise on what you can and cannot eat and drink before your colonoscopy. You may be instructed to avoid eating all solid foods or reduce your intake of certain foods, in addition to taking a strong laxative before your procedure. 

You should always follow the specific instructions provided by your care team, and in most cases, you will be told to fast the day before your colonoscopy. However, in general, in the days leading up to your colonoscopy you are allowed to eat: 

  • Eggs
  • Fruit with the skin and seeds removed
  • Lean meat, chicken and/or fish
  • Well-cooked vegetables with the skin removed
  • White bread, pasta and/or rice

You will be told to avoid the following foods in the days leading up to your colonoscopy: 

  • Beans, broccoli, cabbage, peas and sweetcorn
  • Fatty foods
  • Fruit with skin and seeds
  • Raw vegetables
  • Tough meat
  • Whole grains, seeds, nuts and popcorn

What can you eat the day before a colonoscopy?

The day before your colonoscopy, you will be told to fast. This means you shouldn’t eat any solid foods and should only drink clear liquids (eg water, sports drinks, clear juices such as apple juice and white grape juice, and clear broth). As you will not be eating solid food, you will need to be extra diligent about drinking lots of clear fluids to stay hydrated. 

You can still drink fizzy drinks, if they are clear, as well as tea and coffee without milk or cream.

The night before your colonoscopy, you will be instructed to take a strong laxative to empty your colon. This will usually be in the form of a liquid that you drink. 

Low-fibre colonoscopy diet

Five days before your colonoscopy, you should follow a low-fibre diet. This means not eating cereals, dried beans, dried fruits, peas, nuts, seeds and whole grains. You should also avoid raw fruit and vegetables.

Instead, you can eat canned or well-cooked fruits and vegetables, white bread, white rice and pasta or noodles made from refined flour, as well as soft, well-cooked meat. You can drink fruit juice without pulp.

What to eat after a colonoscopy

After your colonoscopy, try to have food and drink that will be gentle on your gut, such as clear drinks and fluid-based meals (eg broth and soup). Other foods that are gentle on your stomach include baked or mashed potato, canned fruit, crackers, scrambled eggs, soft white fish, well-cooked vegetables, white bread or toast with smooth nut butter, and yoghurt.

You should also drink lots of fluids, such as water, sports drinks (ie drinks containing electrolytes), fruit juice, vegetable juice and herbal tea. However, you should avoid drinking alcohol.

You should also avoid eating fatty, fried, spicy or highly seasoned foods. Other foods to avoid include brown rice, coconut, dried fruit and fruit with skin and seeds, legumes, nuts and crunchy nut butters, popcorn, raw vegetables (including sweetcorn), tough meat and whole grains.

Pre-colonoscopy diet FAQs

What foods can I eat while preparing for a colonoscopy?

The day before your colonoscopy, you will be asked to avoid eating all solid foods and only drink clear fluids. In the five days leading up to your colonoscopy, you will be able to eat but should try to eat foods that don’t take too long for your digestive system to process. You can, therefore, eat white bread, white rice and pasta made from refined flour, as well as eggs, fruit with the skin and seeds removed, lean meat and well-cooked vegetables with the skin removed.

Can you eat eggs the day before a colonoscopy?

You will usually be asked to avoid eating all solid foods the day before your colonoscopy, including eggs. However in the week preceding your colonoscopy, you can eat eggs.  

What can you not eat five days before a colonoscopy?

You should avoid eating beans, broccoli, cabbage, peas and sweetcorn, as well as all raw vegetables, fruit with skin and seeds, and tough meat. You should also avoid eating fatty food, whole grains, seeds, nuts and popcorn.

We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

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