Why You Should Avoid Certain Foods Before A Colonoscopy

For those who have ever experienced a colonoscopy, it goes without saying that it's certainly no walk in the park. The purpose of the medical procedure is to detect abnormalities in the colon and rectum, per Mayo Clinic, as well as to check for potential diseases, including cancer. Although the procedure itself is relatively painless, the preparation for a colonoscopy can be pretty crappy (pun intended).

In order for the doctor to get a clear read on the exam results, it's extremely important for the patient to follow a strict diet the day before the procedure takes place. In addition to many other expert health sources, Harvard Medical School suggests sticking to foods with little to no fiber, therefore avoiding anything with "whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or raw fruits or vegetables." That's why popsicles and Jell-O are staples for colonoscopy patients of all ages, especially since they come in a variety of flavors and can be fun to eat despite the underlying reason for doing so. As far as beverages go, it is highly advised to drink water, broth, black coffee or tea, and clear or light-colored juices, sodas, and sports drinks. So, what foods and drinks should you not consume before a colonoscopy?

Avoid these foods before a colonoscopy for more accurate test results

During a colonoscopy, a colonoscope — a long tube with a video camera attached to the end — is inserted into the rectum, allowing the doctor to examine the inside of the colon, per WebMD. The large intestine needs to be cleaned out as thoroughly as possible prior to the operation so the apparatus can be moved around with ease. The colonoscopy prep fare — especially when compared to what most people eat and drink throughout an average day — is relatively lackluster, but there are legitimate reasons why patients should steer clear of certain foods and beverages before the procedure. 

Consuming only soft, fluid-forward meals means you should avoid solid, heavy, or fried foods; dairy products; popcorn; chewy meats; beans; and, in an unusual departure from most health-related advice, vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage for at least 24 hours before your appointment, according to Healthline. Rule of thumb: For an entire day, don't feed yourself anything that could be difficult to digest. And then, two hours before the procedure, drink absolutely nothing, including plain ol' water. This temporary menu might sound like a total drag, but it'll be worth it at the end. Then, enjoy the biggest salad on the planet afterwards. You've earned it.