pre-colonoscopy diet

by (175)
Commented on December 08, 2014
Created May 09, 2012 at 3:47 AM

Wondering what would be a good diet to eat for the week or so before a colonoscopy. Must do a water fast the day before, and prefer not to starve. Would a ketosis diet be best? Or another type of diet? Thanks!

175 · May 13, 2012 at 5:52 PM

"THANK YOU" to everyone that shared their recommendations/experience. I find all of this very helpful and now I am well-prepared. Greatly appreciate everyone's time.

1356 · May 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Yes, leaves can be an issue. Even teensy leaves like dried basil in broth can be a problem. But SEEDS are the bane of my existence at work.

30 · May 10, 2012 at 4:24 AM

Thank you!!! I would not have realized about the scope plugging possibility. It would be horrible to have to go through everything again. I would imagine green veg such as kale, spinach or broccoli would probably leave troublesome residue as the skins would. Your advice is extremely helpful!

175 · May 10, 2012 at 2:50 AM

This is really helpful, as I don't want to go back for a second run. Thank you!

35 · May 09, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Instead of the Gatorade cocktail we used coconut milk/water. Alot less sugar and taste better to me.

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10 Answers

1356 · May 09, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I'm GI endoscopy nurse and spend much of my day assisting with colonoscopies. Bad preps are a problem we deal with every day, and consequences for the patient are significant. Many times I have had a doc tell a patient they have to come back in a few months to be rescoped because we couldn't get a good look. There are several things you can do diet-wise to help ensure a good prep:

  1. Avoid anything with seeds for 2 or 3 days before the procedure. Seeds from multi-grain bread is our worst problem - today we had 3 (!) different patients with plugged scopes due to seeds. Any kind of seed can be a problem, though, from big cucumber seeds to tiny strawberry seeds.

  2. Eat a low-fiber, low-residue diet for the day before your clear-liquid day (2 days before the procedure). If there is less bulk in the colon, it will be easier for everything to get out, so less cramping. So, no fibrous veggies - meat and starchy veggies are the way to go.

  3. Avoid fruits & veggies with peels or skins. We see a lot of thin veggie skins like pepper skins, and while they don't cause nearly the problems seeds do, they are a pain and can clog the scope.

  4. Not dietary advice, but I'll give it anyway: read and follow your instructions! You would be amazed at the number of people who fail to do this simple thing. Finish drinking what you are assigned to drink even if everything is coming out clear - just because it's clear right now doesn't mean it'll be clear later. Lots of people have nausea or vomiting - if this is bad, call your doctor and he/she might prescibe something different.

0 · December 08, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Annika, Can you have a few tbsp of coconut oil the day before? That makes it easier to avoid eating.

1356 · May 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Yes, leaves can be an issue. Even teensy leaves like dried basil in broth can be a problem. But SEEDS are the bane of my existence at work.

30 · May 10, 2012 at 4:24 AM

Thank you!!! I would not have realized about the scope plugging possibility. It would be horrible to have to go through everything again. I would imagine green veg such as kale, spinach or broccoli would probably leave troublesome residue as the skins would. Your advice is extremely helpful!

175 · May 10, 2012 at 2:50 AM

This is really helpful, as I don't want to go back for a second run. Thank you!

5221 · May 09, 2012 at 6:39 AM

You don't have to change your diet for the week before a colonoscopy. Just don't eat solid foods the day you start drinking the solution (because it all comes out in the end). You can drink clear liquids including bone broths or anything else you can see through.

The solution is just salts. It draws water into the colon and that flushes everything out. You don't have to add the flavor packs (has sugar) but it won't taste very good.

Make sure you chill the solution after you add the water (improves taste a little) and take it out of the fridge about an hour before you drink it so you won't get too cold.

Have fun and good luck. Personally, I found that getting it all down was a little difficult but as long as you're running clear you should be good.

30 · May 09, 2012 at 5:17 AM

I empathize with you! I would also be VERY interested in the answer(s) given. Sadly, I got caught and go in for mine next Friday morning :) I was thinking that instead of the sugar-heavy diet suggested (popsicles and Jello - eeew!!!) I would definitely do bone broths and coconut oil. The oil mostly because it is clear, unlike cream and such, and very satisfying. I have not come up with a good alternative to the Gatorade laxative cocktail. I will probably just do as my husband suggests and deal with it for the one night. The bromated whatever stuff they put in it won't be as bad as it sounds for just that once. Although I'll admit, it's the principal of the thing :) Best of luck to you!!!

35 · May 09, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Instead of the Gatorade cocktail we used coconut milk/water. Alot less sugar and taste better to me.

10 · July 06, 2013 at 10:37 AM

How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy While on the AIP Protocol

Congratulations???for whatever reason, you???ve reached your possible first, most intimate milestone in health inspection terms. You???ve read ALL the literature sent to you, you???ve even combed the internet looking for clues, tips, and cheats to make the whole event less stressful, and may have even found the recommendations to partake of a low-fiber/low-residue diet for the week leading up to THE EVENT--this makes "bathroom time" a whole lot less traumatic, and speeds cleaning.

After finding out about what this diet entails, and all the processed, carb-heavy foods you may not be able to eat due to allergy or other reasons, or foods you plain just don???t WANT to eat, you step back and ask yourself, ???how on Earth am I going to DO this???? This is what happened to me. I have numerous food allergies, and have been adhering to a low-carb diet for a few years now, and recently delved into the AIP protocol. Giving back in to the S-A-D diet for even ONE DAY may throw my body into a tizzy it may not recover from???or at worst, it may take twice as long to recover from as it did the first time. I???ve decided my plan of action is to make a new diet for colonoscopy prep???one that isn???t taken into account by CW doctors anywhere (that I know of) that uses the established low-fiber/low-residue diet food lists and incorporates Paleo dishes (sorry, Primals???no dairy here!), so I may keep eating the foods I am now used to eating without compromising my entire health for the sake of one procedure.

Up to this point, the standard preparatory practice was to eat as you have been eating (and for S-A-D diet eaters, this WAS already pretty much a low fiber/low residue way of eating), followed by a day of an all-liquid diet, then a day of liquids plus that dreaded, vile concoction brewed straight from hell, then another day (or part day) of liquids and the concoction???then, a few hours of dry-out time, then THE PROCEDURE. The only blessing here is that you were knocked out while they scoped you.

Things have changed. Now, preparation goes much easier if you cease eating fiber or residue-causing foods a week beforehand (according to veterans of the procedure), but your doctor won???t tell you that, nor will it be in any of the literature. But what also isn???t in the literature is what to eat if you???re Celiac, have food allergies, are on an autoimmune diet, on a low-carb diet, or any other of a whole host of exceptions to the standard food rules set down for S-A-D eaters.

To top this off, all medications (save for those life-saving heart or diabetes ones), supplements (even multivitamins), and herbals must be stopped for a week before the procedure date. Not only are we expected to eat ourselves into a sad nutritional state, but we can???t even offset it with supplementation!

And lastly, as if we haven???t endured enough insult-before-injury, all foods, spices, and condiments must not be of the colors red, brown, or purple, or contain ANY seeds???this means salsa is definitely out unless you use green salsa, blend it smooth, and strain it to remove any seeds or seed fragments. Seeds take more than three days to clear your system, in spite of the wash-and-wax your colon will get with the prep solution, and any seed fragments found during the procedure elicit a do-over???do you really want to have to go through all this AGAIN? Only smooth condiments of colors other than those listed previously will be allowed???.bummer!

Among the recommended fluids for prep is Gatorade or Crystal Light???do I need to go into all the problems with both these beverages?

As a Paleo mostly-AIP follower, I felt backed into a corner???that is, until I made a list of what I COULD eat according to the standard LF/LR list that was compliant with my eating needs. There wasn???t a lot, but enough for me to get started tracking down eligible recipes (and no, it won???t be a week of smoothies).

Right off the bat, I decided to use coconut water as my prep fluid???a far better choice than Gatorade for replacing lost electrolytes. As for food items, I found I could use nut butters as long as they were smooth and not chunky, as nuts and seeds are forbidden foods for the week. Thankfully, meat and eggs weren???t off limits, but eggs are for me (I have arthritis). Bone broth, meat gelatin, coconut milk, and canned pumpkin are also allowed. Broccoli, cauliflower, and root veggies (except for carrots) are allowed as long as they are cooked, but sadly, things like cocoa powder, shredded coconut, berries, flax/chia, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and avocados are temporarily off limits. Now you see my dilemma? I???m sure others have had the same dilemma, and just sacrificed their health for the sake of one procedure. From this day forward, nobody else need suffer from the same dilemma!

So, rather than have the Paleo and/or Primal community scratching their heads as to what to do when the the ???rite of passage??? comes (ha-ha), here is a foundation from which to build to make your own preparation-easing diet that doesn???t sacrifice too much of the health you???ve worked so long and hard to achieve for yourself.


All meats and eggs (if you can do eggs)

Fish and seafood

nut butters (smooth variety???no seed butters)

VEGETABLES???all cooked, stems removed (if applicable)





Zucchini (minus peel)

Summer squash (minus peel and seeds)

Juice from any non-red orange, or purple vegetable that???s free of seeds, skin, and pulp

Lettuce (may be eaten raw, so Paleo tacos are still an option if salsa verde is substituted???no olives!)

FRUIT???all without seeds or peel




Apples (made into sauce)

Juice made from any non-red, orange, or purple fruit that???s free of seeds, skin, and pulp Yellow papayas



Any non-dairy fat is okay

Chocolate not made from cocoa or cacao powder???melted chips or chunks are okay

CONDIMENTS Nothing of red, orange, or purple color, or with seeds/peel in it


Bone broth Gelatin (clear, meat, or any approved color)

STARCHES???if you can do them

White rice and white rice products (rice cakes, cereals, etc.) if you can tolerate the carbs

Potatoes???white, peel removed (if you can tolerate the carbs)

Tapioca flour


Dairy is a debatable column???some low/fiber/low residue diets say not to eat it, and some say smooth forms of it are okay up to 2 cups??? worth. I imagine this is for satiety factor, and that can be easily accomplished with coconut oil (which is allowed???I checked with my doctor). Rather than get into a dairy fight, I elected to leave it off for simplicity???s sake.

Now I suppose you???re wondering what to do with so limited a palette of foods to choose from for an entire week???here???s where I link to some recipes to get you started:

Paleo Breakfast Bread http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-breakfast-bread/

Kohlrabi Au Gratin (leave out leaves) http://paleofood.com/recipes/veggies-kohlrabiaugratin.htm

Tangy & Sweet Mustard Chicken Legs http://fastpaleo.com/tangy-sweet-mustard-chicken-legs/

Tuna Cakes (omit cayenne pepper and double black pepper) http://fastpaleo.com/tuna-cakes-3/

Tapioca Flour Crepes http://crunchymama.net/paleo-tapioca-crepes-gluten-free-dairy-free/

SUBSTITUTES FOR FORBIDDEN FOODS OR FOODS YOU CAN???T TOLERATE Eggs???substitute applesauce, unflavored gelatin, nut butter, or zucchini Red sauces like salsa or tomato sauce??? use salsa verde (If tolerated), but strain to remove seeds/pulp Chocolate???use melted Enjoy Life chips or chunks (made from liqueur instead of powder) Cinnamon and other red spices???look for clear liquid forms of the flavors you intend to substitute

5650 · March 08, 2013 at 3:11 AM

i usually fast for 3 days on all liquids before the test. that way, i am all cleaned out and don't have to drink the prep. i've done this for 5/8 colonoscopies, and the gastro said my colon was clean. the prep is just so terrible to drink and not worth suffering and having explosive diarrhea all night.

5650 · November 23, 2014 at 11:31 PM

hi miriam, it's pretty simple. i make a big batch of chicken or beef broth and drink that as much as i want. i also drink lots of coconut water, apple juice, jello (i make my own with fresh juice and great lakes gelatin, popsicles (homemade), and orange juice. i also do belly massages on those days to make sure the poop is moving through!! you could also drink a little natural calm magnesium citrate the night before. i've never had to do this doing my 3 day liquid diet because i'm always cleaned out. i do use the natural calm for constipation in general and it works within a day.

10 · November 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM

hello Joanna;
I would be very grateful if you could share your liquid diet. I am going to have my colonoscopy in 4 days and I want to follow the way you clean with the liquid diet, but don know how exactly to do this. thanks.

0 · March 08, 2013 at 2:19 AM

Another helpful bit of advice I got about drinking the dreaded solution: chill it in the fridge first, then drink it with a straw. APparently this helps to bypass the taste buds at the front of the tongue, and makes it a little more palatable. We'll see, I have to start this weekend - brrr

5959 · May 09, 2012 at 8:30 PM

When I had one done, 10+ years ago, they gave me no recommendations about food. But, I figured that on the day before the flush, it would probably be a good idea to run all my food through a blender, which I did. The next day, after drinking the entire gallon of PEG/electrolyte laxative, I experienced no cramping or any other discomfort.

4400 · May 09, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Right, the laxative takes care of whatever's in there. There will be some fasting involved, so your main goal is to be able to fast without feeling deprived. If you already can, you are good to go. If not, going lower carb and doing ramping up on IF might help you get there. Depending, a week might be enough to get you comfortable -- more ramp up time might be helpful.

Just a tip. I don't know what the laxative they use now (I'll find out soon enough …), but five years ago I was supposed to drink a gallon of this nasty liquid. I'm over 6' tall, yet after 3/4 of a gallon I had to stop or else I would have just thrown it all up. I called my doctor (do these guys get phone calls at 11pm every night?!) who told me not to worry about it, and sure enough it was no problem. So maybe you don't need as much as they ask you to drink?? I would ask the doctor in advance how to handle it if you can't stomach the entire latative. Anyway, that was in the pre-paleo days.

I'd be very curious to know whether a person can eat paleo, maybe not eat 24 hours before, and get clean enough to avoid the laxative, which for me was the only unpleasant part of the experience. Okay I won't turn it into an official paleohacks question now, but any thoughts would be appreciated. I would ask my doctor, but just looking at him I can tell he's never heard of Paleo. :-)

533 · May 09, 2012 at 2:54 PM

They generally don't want you consuming fats, so if you have bone broth I would skim all of the fat. I was once told to eat a light diet the day before, you probably should at least not have a 24oz steak the day before your liquid fast. I got by on chicken broth, jello and coffee.

8757 · May 09, 2012 at 2:51 PM

uggg I hate those things. I don't recall them telling me to change my diet before, because frankly they'll wash you out with the liquid laxative drink before. I always have trouble keeping that in me, it makes me want to vomit just thinking of it....uggggg

You could if you wanted, eat only chicken and fish (white meats) no colored fruits or veggies and clear liquids like water, light tea, broth. I think my hubby had to do something like that for something 3 days before the test...don't recall what it was though.

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