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I still remember my very first colonoscopy prep. I was in the ICU, connected to an IV bag on a rolling stand, in a hospital gown, and with a night nurse telling me that even though I haven’t put anything in my mouth for the past three days, I was now expected to drink an entire gallon of something foul to prepare for a colonoscopy. I didn’t know what a colonoscopy was. I think I managed to drink about half the gallon before breaking down into tears, defeated, and begging the nurse to let me stop. She shrugged and walked away. Fortunately, since I hadn’t been able to keep down any solid food for about a week, it was enough. The next morning, I got through my colonoscopy (that part was easy!), was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and was allowed (and able) to eat a couple of slices of white bread with a piece of turkey in it. It was the best tasting sandwich I’d ever had.

It wasn’t long before I had to prep for the next colonoscopy. I knew there had to be an easier way, so I did what I always do. I researched. I talked to a few IBD friends. I read articles about different types of fiber and how long it takes for foods to digest. (For example, did you know that red meat can take the average, healthy person up to two days to digest?) Then, I collected all the information and created my colonoscopy prep survival guide.

As always, check with your doctor if you are concerned about whether or not any of the foods on my list are appropriate for you. Everybody (and every body) is different. The plan becomes more restrictive as you get closer to your prep. It’s not easy, but for some people (like me), it’s worth the effort.

Beginning 5 days before you plan to drink your colonoscopy prep (usually the day before your procedure)…


  • red meat and processed meats (like hot dogs and bologna)
  • raw fruits and veggies (except those on the “do eat” list)
  • anything with dairy in it
  • seeds, nuts, granola, dried fruits, beans, popcorn
  • corn or potatoes with skin
  • pickles, olives, horseradish, relish
  • potato chips
  • whole grains, whole wheat breads, brown rice, corn meal, wheat germ, buckwheat
  • heavily processed foods (foods with more than a few ingredients you can’t pronounce)


  • eggs, well-cooked (very tender) poultry or fish (boneless!), cooked seafood, and tofu
  • small amounts of ripe banana, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon
  • white breads and noodles, white rice, oatmeal, simple crackers (like saltines)\fruits and veggies that have been either canned or cooked “fork tender,” meaning that you can easily squish it with a fork (if cooking, remember to remove skins and seeds first!)
  • sorbets, juices, jellies (without seeds), jell-o, chocolate (small amounts)
  • condiments (as long as they have no seeds or dairy), herbs and spices
  • well-cooked (fork-tender) potato and sweet potato (no skin)
  • sugar, syrup, honey, hard candies, marshmallows
  • lots of fluids: tea, juice, water, lemonade, soda, coffee (without cream or milk), broth

2 days before the day of your prep, only eat:

  • scrambled eggs (no milk, cooking with a little oil is ok)
  • cans of chicken or veggie noodle soup (white noodles)
  • herbs, spices, condiments without dairy are ok
  • white noodles with tomato sauce (or other sauce that follows rules)
  • white bread, saltines
  • canned veggies and fruits
  • Ensure or other protein drink without dairy
  • jello
  • don’t forget to drink lots of fluids!!!

1 day before the day of your prep, only have:

  • clear liquids: soda, tea, apple or grape juice, etc (no red, orange, or purple colors)
  • broth of any type
  • Ensure (chocolate or vanilla only) or other protein drink without dairy
  • jello (no red, orange, purple)

Day of the prep: Clear liquids only!  Remember: NO RED DYES (that means no purples or oranges either!). You can have:

  • broth
  • jello
  • hard or gummy candies (remember- no reds!)
  • non-dairy popsicles with no fruit or seeds
  • apple juice or white grape juice
  • any other clear drinks (clear sodas, gatorade, tea, coffee without cream or milk)
  • nothing acidic, like lemonade

Bonus! Here’s my list of tips and tricks for making your actual prep a little more pleasant. Every prep is different, so be sure to follow the instructions your doctor gave you, as well as those on your prep’s packaging.

  •  “Enjoy” your prep solution ice cold and drink it with a straw (so that the taste doesn’t linger on your lips). Relax and put on a movie. Don’t be too far from a bathroom. You might not start feeling the effects for a few hours, so don’t worry if you’re drinking a lot and nothing’s happening yet.
  • Make sure you have different flavored drinks to mix your solution with so you don’t get burnt out on one flavor.
  • If you need a break, suck on a hard candy.
  • Make sure your bathroom’s comfy. You’ll be in there a lot once the prep starts working. Light a candle. Have books and magazines ready. Maybe keep some candies in there. Use flushable wipes instead of toilet paper. Trust me.
  • If you start having cramps, use a heating pad on your abdomen.
  • Keep an old towel under your bottom when you’re not on the toilet, in case you have any surprise leaks.

After your procedure:

  • Don’t be shy about getting all the excess air out of your bowels.  It’s not lady-like, but it’s necessary.
  • Choose some easy things to eat, like the low fiber foods you started with. By evening, you should be able to eat normally again, though I wouldn’t overdo it!

For more tips on preparing for colonoscopy (and other scopes such as endoscopy) from our community check out:

A Girl with Guts Guide to Scope Prep

Do you have questions or other tips to share? Put them in the comments!


Amy Gaspard was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2010. She is a licensed mental health therapist in Columbus, Ohio. She lives with her husband and two cats and is currently spending most of her free time remodeling their first home. When the house projects get overwhelming, Amy enjoys Zumba, running, latin dancing, board games, and retro gaming.


Bye Bye Bag! Rebuilding piece by piece- a reflection on the GWG Newbie Retreat

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  1. Kelly McNeely says:

    Thank you for sharing such helpful, well-written tips, Amy! Best wishes for a happy reno!

  2. Sheree says:

    I’m having my first colonoscopy this week, and your guide was very helpful. Thanks!

  3. Rick says:

    Thank u for the advice and preparation list, I’m 55 never had a colonoscopy, I’m overdue, been having stomach issues (pain, bloating, gas feeling like I always need to go) I hope it’s not serious, but I know it can be, so here I go, my procedure is Friday ( today is Monday)

  4. Monica McCarson says:

    Wow, what informative information! I’m a type one brittle diabetic. I was told I would be able to eat plain marshmallows (NO TOASTING, of course!) the day before the procedure and I did. Did you ever hear of this? I don’t want to mislead anyone.

  5. Sarah says:

    Something I sucked up and did for my prep was buy adult diapers and it was a LIFESAVER. Caught leaks and the farts I shouldn’t have trusted

  6. Theresa says:

    Thanks so much! Way more helpful than the doctors!

  7. Mary Ann says:

    I’m puzzled by, “Make sure you have different flavored drinks to mix your solution with so you don’t get burnt out on one flavor.” I thought I could only use the flavor packets they give me. By different flavored drinks do you mean anything that is clear and not red, orange or purple? Perhaps apple juice and white grape juice are OK?

  8. Jenny Harrison says:

    It depends on the instructions from your provider regarding the color of the clear fluids you are allowed. Some of us have been permitted to use red, purple, blue, etc. others have not. However, if it is powder you can mix with apple juice or ginger ale or clear sports drinks! If you have prep that is already a liquid then drinking clear other flavored fluid in between can be helpful to break up the taste.

  9. Anaar shariff says:

    I’m due to have a colonoscopy early on Monday morning. For my last meal, I’m planning to have chicken biriyani for my supper this evening. It’s mildly spicy. Would this be okay?

  10. Jenny Harrison says:

    So sorry to have missed this comment before your procedure. We hope it went well. In the future, if you have specific questions about a scope prep you should call your provider as they can answer questions quickly and in line with the specific preparation that the office uses. For the last meal before the prep it is generally easier to eat milder things like rice, etc. and the dish you planned does follow that method with the rice and chicken.

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