Most people have a colonoscopy starting around age 50. It’s important to follow the prep instruction for the colonoscopy before the procedure. This articles shares ideas and guidelines for what to eat after a colonoscopy.

calendar with colonoscopy written on it.

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure performed by your healthcare provider to examine the inside of your large intestine, which is made up of your colon and rectum. 

During the procedure, a long, thin instrument called a colonoscope is passed into your colon. The colonoscope is a flexible tube that carries a camera and is also able to remove tissue from inside the intestine (although you won’t feel it due to the anesthesia that you will likely have before the test).

The purpose of the test is to look for any issues that may be causing bowel problems such as pain in the abdomen, bleeding, or persistent diarrhea. 

The test can be used to diagnose all sorts of conditions, from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease to colorectal polyps and cancer. 

The procedure may also be offered as a routine screening test for colorectal cancer once you reach the age of 50. See my list of the best lab tests for women.

A colonoscopy is usually performed while you are awake, but you are sedated to keep you relaxed. Although you might feel the camera going in – and experience a little bloating when air is pumped into the intestine to help your doctor see your colon walls more clearly – you shouldn’t feel any pain.

Before your colonoscopy, your healthcare provider will give you instructions on how to clear out your colon. This is very important, as your doctor needs to see the walls of your colon clearly and even small amounts of residue could make it hard to spot any abnormalities. 

Part of the process of emptying your colon will involve eating only certain foods. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation for what to eat before a colonoscopy.

Green Jello in a cup with whip topping.

Foods to Eat Before a Colonoscopy

Whilst your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions, it is usually recommended that you only eat plain foods 2 days before a colonoscopy.

Foods you can generally eat before a colonoscopy include:

  • white bread, rice, or pasta
  • cookies made with white flour (avoid any with nuts, seeds, or dried fruit)
  • low fiber cereals
  • plain meat (avoid sauces)
  • cooked or canned vegetables with no skin or seeds (but avoid corn, tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, squash, lima beans, and onions)
  • smooth nut butters
  • butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and vegetable oils
  • clear soups, or strained milk-based soups
  • custard, ice cream, plain pudding, sorbet, or sherbert
  • Jell-O (with no added fruit – avoid any containing purple or red dye)
  • drinks such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soda, fruit drinks (without pulp)

Your doctor will probably recommend that you don’t eat any solid foods at all the day before the colonoscopy. You are allowed to drink, but only certain types of drinks – usually clear liquids – are suitable. 

These include:

  • water
  • black tea and coffee (do not add milk or cream)
  • carbonated drinks
  • broth

Avoid drinking anything purple or red, as it can be mistaken for blood during the procedure.

You may be advised not to eat or drink anything at all after midnight the night before the exam.

Bowl of chicken broth with a salt and pepper.

Foods to Eat After a Colonoscopy

Once the colonoscopy is over, you need to make sure you replenish your stores of electrolytes and fluids, as the procedure is quite dehydrating.  

Along with plenty of liquids, your doctor will probably recommend that you have some fluid-based foods, and may suggest a soft, low residue diet. This will include dairy and foods low in fiber because they are easy to digest and therefore gentle on your colon. 

Try to keep meals light and frequent, rather than eating a lot in one go.

Good foods and drinks to choose from after a colonoscopy include:

  • water
  • electrolyte drinks
  • herbal tea
  • bone broth
  • fruit or vegetable juices
  • yogurt
  • scrambled eggs
  • soup
  • fish
  • pudding
  • applesauce
  • graham crackers

See my recipes for Instant Pot Vegetable Broth, Crockpot Applesauce, or my list of anti-inflammatory vegetable juices. I also have a whole index of healthy soups and stews that you can choose from.

plate with scrambled eggs

Steer clear of things that are hard to digest and likely to make you feel bloated or gassy, such as:

  • nuts, seeds, or popcorn
  • spicy foods
  • corn or beans
  • broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage
  • garlic
  • alcohol
  • fried food
  • tough, gristly meat

You can also ask your doctor what he or she specifically recommends eating after a colonoscopy. You may also be advised to rest and take it easy for a day or two after the procedure.

As long as you give yourself some time to recover, you should be able to eat normally and perform normal activities within a day or so.

Best of all, you’ll know that you’ve gotten through your colonoscopy and you can pat yourself on the back for getting through it.

Conclusions

Some people feel a little intimidated at the thought of a colonoscopy, but it is an important procedure to have as it can spot early signs of potential problems or help diagnose anything that’s currently causing you discomfort. 

Staff are trained to make you feel at ease and by following the dietary guidelines you can be sure that your health provider will be able to carry out the procedure easily and successfully. Eating foods that are kind to your bowel for the next couple of days will help you recover quickly, so you will soon be back to enjoying your regular diet. 

If you like this post, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.