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Best Diet For 48 Hours Before Colonoscopy

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    Most physicians will give you a strict diet regimen to follow before your colonoscopy. This usually involves avoiding high-fiber foods for several days before your procedure and an all-liquid diet the day before. The bowel preparation and restricted diet can cause anxiety in people awaiting the procedure who worry about the discomfort of the bowel cleanse and the limited diet preceding the cleanse.

    The best diet a couple days before your colonoscopy involves eating a “low-residue” diet that limits high-fiber foods that cause undigested food or residue to stay in the colon for a prolonged period. Low-residue are foods that are easy to digest and do not have any skin, seeds, or whole grains.

    The best diet a couple days before your colonoscopy involves eating a “low-residue” diet that limits high-fiber foods that cause undigested food or residue to stay in the colon for a prolonged period. Low-residue are foods that are easy to digest and do not have any skin, seeds, or whole grains. If you are anxious about your procedure, especially the bowel preparation itself, don’t worry! You have plenty of dietary options that will ease the process, cause you less discomfort, and help your physician have a clean slate to visualize your colon. 

    Disclaimer: Your physician will give you specific directions about how to prepare for the bowel cleanse, including matching the foods and medications you need to avoid according to your personal medical history. This article is meant to inform you about what an ideal diet before a colonoscopy would look like and not as a specific diet regimen for you to follow. These dietary directions can only be provided by the physician who is performing your colonoscopy.  

    What To Eat (and What to Avoid) Before Your Colonoscopy

    The main purpose of the bowel preparation before your colonoscopy is to completely empty and cleanse the entire colon. Eating low-fiber foods for several days before your colonoscopy can make the process easier for you while ensuring there are no fiber residues left in the colon. You also will be asked to avoid several types of food and anything that contains red or purple food coloring (natural or artificial). 

    Fresh pasta noodles are low in fiber and easy to make
    Fresh pasta noodles are low in fiber and easily made into a delicious meal

    What to Avoid

    Several days before your colonoscopy your physician will ask you to avoid high-fiber foods and restrict your diet to proteins and foods that are easily digestible, well-cooked, tender, and peeled. In addition, there may be other restrictions to your diet which often include avoiding the following:

    • Popcorn
    • Coconut
    • Corn
    • Prunes or prune juice
    • Raw or dried fruit
    • Whole grains, including brown or wild rice, buckwheat, and cornbread
    • Dry beans, peas, lentils, and tofu
    • Tough, fibrous meat with gristle
    • All berries, figs, dates, and raisins
    • Any food that contains seeds or nuts
    • Pickles, olives, horseradish, and relish
    • Jam, marmalade, or preserves (especially with seeds)
    • No red or purple (food dye) colored drinks or foods

    Low-fiber Foods You Can Eat

    Condiments

    Mustard

    Mayonnaise

    Olive oil

    Maple syrup

    Honey

    White rice vinegar

    Jam or jelly (not red or purple and no seeds)

    Sugar (white, brown, or raw)

    Butter or margarine (non-hydrogenated oils)

    Breads and Starches

    Pretzels

    Plain crackers

    White bread, biscuit or roll

    Potato roll

    Skinless baked or cooked potato

    White rice or noodles

    White or refined flour pastas 

    Cooked cereals like creamy rice

    Crispy rice cereal or cornflakes

    Meat

    Ground, well-cooked and tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, and fish

    Skinless chicken

    Skinless turkey

    Milk and Milk Products

    Sherbert

    Low-fat cheeses

    Custard

    Smooth nonfat or low-fat yogurt (no seeds, berries, rinds, or nuts)

    Fruit

    Canned fruit (no pineapple)

    Applesauce

    Ripe bananas

    Ripe melons

    Vegetables

    Canned or cooked vegetables without seeds

    Green beans

    Potatoes 

    Carrots

    Fruits

    Strained fruit juice (no prune juice)

    Canned, pureed, and soft fruit (except pineapple)

    Ripe banana

    Ripe melons

    Sweets 

    Gelatin

    Hard candy

    Plain cake or cookies

    Plain pudding or custard

    Sherbet

    Popsicles

    Low-fat ice cream

    Other 

    Eggs

    Smooth nut butters

    Canned tuna

    Chicken noodle soup without vegetables

    What Happens If You Eat Not Recommended Foods Before Your Colonoscopy

    High-fiber, high-fat, and complex protein foods take time to digest and may reside in the colon for several days if not adequately processed. These residual fibers are difficult to flush out of the system, even with the laxatives you are given the day before the procedure.

    An inadequate bowel preparation can cause a number of problems, including the need for a repeat colonoscopy and possible complications during the procedure itself. High-fiber, high-fat, and complex protein foods take time to digest and may reside in the colon for several days if not adequately processed. These residual fibers are difficult to flush out of the system, even with the laxatives you are given the day before the procedure. Inadequate bowel preparation can have the following consequences:

    • Increases difficulty and level of complexity of colonoscopy
    • Extends time of the  procedure
    • Inhibits the ability of your gastroenterologist to visualize the colon
    • Patients will need to repeat procedure 
    • Shortens the interval time between the next screening colonoscopy 
    • Reduces the ability of gastroenterologist to identify polyps and abnormalities

    Sample Meal Plan 48 Hours Before Your Colonoscopy

    Breakfast

    Bagel and cream cheese, banana with honey

    Scrambled eggs, white toast, and jam

    Greek yogurt with honey and bananas topping

    Half cantaloupe filled with greek yogurt and topped with honey

    Pancakes (not whole-grain) with maple syrup

    Lunch

    Chicken tenders (no skin), green beans, and potato roll

    Turkey sandwich on white bread with provolone and pretzels

    Tuna with olive oil and lemon juice on sourdough bread with vanilla wafers

    Smooth peanut butter and honey sandwich, cottage cheese, and canned peaches

    Dinner 

    Cedar plank wild salmon (not farmed), cooked carrots, and Israeli couscous

    Orecchiette with garlic and tender-cooked asparagus tips with olive oil and lemon

    Grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes (no skins), and tender green beans

    Spaghetti with mushrooms, olive oil and garlic, lettuce salad with dressing (no seeds), plain ice cream

    References

    Colorectal Cancer Alliance Writing Staff. (2021). Sample six day colonoscopy prep guide. Retrieved from Colorectal Cancer Alliance: https://www.ccalliance.org/pdfs/resources/CCAlliance_ColonoscopyPrepGuide_SampleSixDay.pdf

    Danahy, A. (2019, July 09). The definition of a clear liquid diet for a colonoscopy. Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/275954-the-definition-of-a-clear-liquid-diet-for-colonoscopy/

    Gastro One Writing Staff. (2015, June). Pre-colonoscopy diet plant. Retrieved from Gastro One: https://www.gastro1.com/images/Pre_Colonoscopy_Diet_Instructions.pdf

    Kahi, C. J., et., al. (2016, March). Colonoscopy surveillance after colorectal cancer resection: recommendations of the US multi-society task force on colorectal cancer. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 83(3), 489-498.e10. Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016510716000468

    Lahey Health. (2019, April 01). Low-fiber diet for colonoscopy. Retrieved from Beth Israel Layel Health: https://www.lahey.org/article/low-fiber-diet-for-colonoscopy/

    Parrish, C. R. & Balaban, D. H. (2007, November). The Gourmet Colon Prep. Practical Gastroenterology/ Retrieved from University of Virginia: https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2015/11/McCrayArticle-November-07.

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