May We Recommend: Foods to Eat Before and After a Colonoscopy | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

May We Recommend: Foods to Eat Before and After a Colonoscopy

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Preparing for a colonoscopy is never pleasant. It usually involves drinking a large amount of special liquid to prep your GI tract and thoroughly empty your bowels twenty-four hours before the procedure. One never wants to be too far from home or a bathroom! The discomfort and inconvenience, however, are outweighed by the benefits of being proactive about your health. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and a colonoscopy can aid in early detection.

A colonoscopy is a procedure administered under sedation in a hospital or clinic. A gastroenterologist uses a colonoscope to examine your colon and rectum to look for any irregularities such as small lesions and polyps that could lead to colon and rectal cancers (colorectal cancer). Emptying your bowel system is part of the preparation process, and it is important to follow doctors’ orders carefully to get the best results.

But what can you eat before and after to make things -ahem! -go more smoothly? Jewish Week asked Dr. Shilpa Ravella, a gastroenterologist with Columbia University Medical Center, who specializes in digestive and liver diseases.

One day prior to your colonoscopy:

Dr Ravella: “We typically ask patients to follow a clear liquid diet. Patients should avoid solid foods and only ingest liquids they can see through. Examples include tea, juice, broth or plain Jell-O. These are easily digested and leave no residue in the GI tract, and they will help make the colonoscopy prep liquid (which patients will take on the same night) go more smoothly.”

After your colonoscopy:

Dr. Ravella: “You can start to have regular meals again. But since you'll probably have some air left in the colon and symptoms like bloating immediately after the procedure, try to stick to foods that are more easily digested and lower in fiber and fat that will pass through the GI tract more easily. Examples include water, juice, tea, clear soup, mashed potatoes, cooked until tender or mashed vegetables, and creamy nut butters. Try to avoid foods that are harder on the GI system like raw vegetables, tough meats, nuts, and fried/fatty foods. You can typically return to your regular diet the day after the procedure.”

Other soft-on-the system foods to consider after a colonoscopy include scrambled eggs (no spices) and whitefish and, for something sweet, popsicles, applesauce, and mashed fruit (no skins). Make sure to hydrate more after your procedure by drinking water, herbal teas, and vegetable or fruit juice.

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