Well, it’s happened. Your primary care physician has said the dreaded words and scheduled you for a colonoscopy.
Fear is a perfectly normal response, as the procedure is quite invasive. However, most of the fear comes from not knowing what the procedure entails, or how you need to care for yourself after it.
And while your nurses and doctor will show you what to do and what to eat afterward, learning for yourself is the best thing to do. Not only will you learn how to care for yourself, heal faster, and manage symptoms, learning about navigating around your colonoscopy will make you feel more in control.
This article will tell you what to eat after colonoscopy procedures. You will also discover what you should avoid in your diet after colonoscopy.
I will also mention what to eat after colonoscopy with polyp removal. So without any delay, let’s get started on your post colonoscopy diet.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that is used to identify any abnormalities or changes in the colon (aka large intestine) and rectum. During the exam, a long tube is inserted into the rectum. One end of the tube has a tiny camera that allows the doctor to view the inside of the colon.
Besides examining the colon and rectum for abnormalities, doctors can also remove things like polyps during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples, also known as biopsies, can be extracted during the procedure as well.
When is a colonoscopy recommended by doctors?
- To examine symptoms in the intestines. If a patient presents symptoms like chronic stomach aches, diarrhea, long-term constipation, and rectal bleeding, a colonoscopy can help determine the cause.
- To check for colon cancer. Patients at the age of 50 and above and those with a higher risk for colon and rectal cancers need to be regularly screened for the disease to catch it in the early stages.
- To check for polyps. If you have had polyps before, your physician may recommend a colonoscopy to identify additional polyps. This will also help prevent cancer in the long run.
What are the Best Things to Eat after a Colonoscopy?
After your procedure, you might be wondering what you can and cannot eat. Your post colonoscopy diet instructions will emphasize eating light meals that you can easily digest. The list of foods to eat after colonoscopy is always mild and gentle on the stomach.
Eating after colonoscopy procedures can be pretty complicated. This list will tell you the best foods to eat after colonoscopy to prevent any complications.
01. Fluids with Electrolytes:
The most important thing you can do after your colonoscopy is to make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Besides water, you can also drink things like fruit juices, vegetable smoothies, coconut water, and herbal teas to replenish your fluids.
However, chances are you will be pretty dehydrated and need to make up for the lost electrolytes. Drinks with electrolytes include oral rehydration, glucose drinks, and Pedialyte. These liquids will also make any bowel movement after colonoscopy much easier.
As mentioned before, your first meal after colonoscopy should be plain, mild, and easily digestible. Things like saltine or graham crackers are a perfect example of this. You can also combine this with something like a plain broth, without any spices.
Saltines are easy to keep down and digest and are also one of the few ‘hard’ foods that you can eat safely after your procedure. They will also feel good to chew on!
Liquids are always a safe bet after any procedure. However, it is important to make sure your soup is clear and free from things like spices and strong herbs. Soup has lots of electrolytes and salts that will help replenish your body after your colonoscopy.
If you have diarrhea after colonoscopy, things like juices and soups will help prevent extreme loss of fluids and stop your body from getting dehydrated.
Popsicles have plenty of water and sugar. They are also easy to eat and stay down easily. You will need the fluid and the sugar after your colonoscopy to keep up your energy levels.
05. Apple Sauce or Butter:
Applesauce or apple butter contains fiber and sugar. Sugar and carbohydrates will give you strength and energy to get back on your feet after the procedure. Moreover, the fiber in apple sauce will make it easier for the digestive tract to handle the other things you eat.
Fruit sauces and butters also contain pectin, which prevents diarrhea in the days after your colonoscopy.
Scrambled or soft-boiled eggs are also a good source of energy and protein. You can have up to 2 eggs a day to get your daily requirement of protein. When combined with vegetables and fruits in your everyday diet, eggs will help prevent extreme weight loss after colonoscopy procedures.
Steamed and boiled vegetables are also an important part of your post-colonoscopy diet. Things like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and soft things like pumpkins and cauliflower are a good idea. You can have things like mashed potatoes or cauliflower without butter or heavy cream.
Roasted or baked vegetables that are soft should also be consumed. The fiber in these vegetables is also important for the digestive system.
08. Puddings and Jell-O:
A soft food diet after colon surgery is vital because tougher foods are difficult to digest and can cause complications later. Things like puddings and jelly are soft, easy to eat and digest quickly. At the same time, the sugar in these desserts will replenish your energy levels.
09. White Fish:
Poached or baked white fish is very soft and goes down easily. They are quick to cook and easy to prepare, so you can eat them after your colonoscopy. However, bony and fatty fish foods are things to avoid before the colonoscopy procedure, as well as after.
Toast is a good source of carbohydrates and energy after your colonoscopy. At the same time, it is pretty mild and can be digested easily.
Best of all, it has the fiber your body needs after the procedure. You can get away with 2-3 slices of toast, including the addition of some sort of smooth nut butter.
If you want to learn more about what to eat after a colonoscopy, Mayo Clinic has other resources as well.
What Not to Eat after a Colonoscopy
Just as there are some things you should focus on consuming after a colonoscopy, there are other things you need to stay away from. Here’s what you should steer clear from:
01. Alcoholic Drinks:
Drinking alcohol after colonoscopy procedures is a big no-no. After your colonoscopy, stay away from alcoholic beverages.
Why no alcohol after colonoscopy? This can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, and interfere with any medication that you are prescribed after your procedure.
02. Fatty Foods:
Staying away from rich food is another important thing to bear in mind. Things like deep-fried food and buttery desserts are difficult to digest and can cause an upset stomach and nausea, further resulting in dehydration and loss of vital fluids and electrolytes.
Like butter and oil, spicy food can complicate stomach issues after a colonoscopy. They will irritate the lining of the stomach and cause things like diarrhea, gas, and heartburn. You will notice a lot of nausea and bloating if you consume heavy spices after such procedures.
04. Nuts, Grains, and Seeds:
Things like popcorn, seeds, and chunky nut butters are also difficult to digest. You should also stay away from whole bread and baked goods as well.
These can cause indigestion, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, and a host of other painful symptoms that can complicate your recovery after your colonoscopy.
05. Carbonated Beverages:
Carbonated drinks like coke or sprite can cause a lot of pain and discomfort after your colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, gas is blown into the colon to make it easier for the doctors to see the inside. As a result, you might feel gassy after the procedure and carbonated drinks make it worse.
Preparatory Tips for Your Colonoscopy
Follow these tips for a safe, quick, and non-eventful colonoscopy with no complications, and a quicker recovery period afterward.
- Follow doctor’s orders on what you eat. You will need to avoid solids for 24 hours before your colonoscopy. Stick to soft and bland foods.
Similarly, you can only drink clear fluids like apple juice or herbal teas. You should also avoid red foods as this can confuse the doctors during the procedure.
- Take a laxative beforehand. Your doctor may ask you to take a laxative the night before your procedure, or even during the morning of the colonoscopy. Either way, ask your doctor what you need to do.
- Use an enema kit. Your doctor will tell you how to go about this the night before your colonoscopy.
- Avoid strenuous exercise. Follow a gentle exercise regimen the day before your procedure. You also need to avoid strenuous exercise after colonoscopy procedures for at least 48 hours.
- Adjust your medications. A week before your colonoscopy is due, talk to your doctor and let them know which medications you are taking. You may need to adjust the dosage for the procedure.
Still Have Questions?
Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about diets after a colonoscopy.
01. Can I Eat Normally after a Colonoscopy?
After a colonoscopy, you need to avoid spicy, greasy foods and stick to a mild and light diet.
02. Can I Eat Pizza after a Colonoscopy?
It is generally discouraged to eat a pizza right after your colonoscopy as it contains heavy seasoning, acidic sauces, and lots of fat.
03. How Long Does It Generally Take to Recover from a Colonoscopy?
It usually takes no longer than 24 hours before one can return to work or their daily lives after a colonoscopy.
04. Will My Bowel Movements Change after Colonoscopy?
You may not have a bowel movement for a few days after your procedure. Your first bowel movement may also include some blood, which is nothing to be scared about.
05. What Can I Not Do after a Colonoscopy?
After your colonoscopy, you need to avoid eating spicy foods, alcohol, and similar things. You should also hold off on heavy exercise for at least 48 hours.
06. How Soon Can I Eat after a Colonoscopy?
For the first few hours, you should stay away from food. Once a couple of hours have passed, you can start eating a little.
07. Why Do I Feel Sick after a Colonoscopy?
It is normal to feel a little bloated and gassy after your procedure. You may also notice nausea and mild cramping. This is normal, as your body is working off the effects of sedation and the colonoscopy.
08. How Long Will I be Asleep for a Colonoscopy?
Most people tend to be out for around an hour after being sedated for a colonoscopy.
09. How Fast Do Colon Polyps Grow Back?
Larger polyps tend to return in under 3 years. However, smaller ones take much longer to regrow.
10. How Long Will I Have Diarrhea after a Colonoscopy?
This should clear up in about 3 days after your procedure.
11. Can I Go Back to Work the Day after a Colonoscopy?
It is recommended to rest for a day or two after your colonoscopy.
12. How Long Does It Take to Poop after a Colonoscopy in Most Cases?
It can take a day or two to have a bowel movement after your procedure.
13. Is Diarrhea after Colonoscopy Normal?
Loose bowel movements are normal for a few days after your colonoscopy. Anything persisting longer should be reported to your doctor.
Like most medical procedures, a colonoscopy can cause a bit of discomfort in the days following it. Knowing what to eat after colonoscopy will give you time to stock up on the things you like and can eat in the days after your procedure.
It will also prevent any complications and alleviate any issues that can arise afterward. Colonoscopies are nothing to be afraid of, and you will find out soon after your own procedure!