How to prepare for your colonoscopy
About This Information
This plan is meant to be a guide, not medical advice.
Please be sure to communicate with your health care provider about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbs, supplements, aspirin products, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin), clopidogrel, insulin or iron products. Also share any information about allergies to any medicines including any type of anesthesia.
Most medications can be continued during the prep period, but some can interfere with either the bowel prep or the colonoscopy. Your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions for your medicines and/or allergies. Read them ahead of time! You may need to shop for supplies and laxatives and follow a special liquid diet for at least a day before the test.
** Note: All information based on guidance from the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the American Cancer Society.
Six Days Before
First - Read all the preparation instructions including any specific instructions from your health care provider.
Now that you have read all of your instructions, we have some general guidance for starting your preparation:
- Create meal plan based on your preferences that includes foods that are easier to pass and less likely to cause constipation
- Make shopping list - Check it twice and check out our health & wellness nutrition page for help
- Purchase the groceries you need for your meal plan
- Buy your colonoscopy preparation products
- Arrange a driver for your procedure
- Stop all medications containing aspirin and ibuprofen
Colonoscopy prep: Which one tastes the best?
Brooks Bell, the Colonoscopy Enthusiast and Colorectal Cancer Alliance Board Member, tests four colonoscopy prep solutions and provides her take on which colonoscopy prep tastes best! Find out which prep — GoLYTELY, MiraLAX, SUPREP, or CLENPIQ — wins in this competition of colonoscopy prep taste.
What to get at the grocery store before a colonoscopy
Brooks Bell, the Colonoscopy Enthusiast and Colorectal Cancer Alliance Board Member, goes shopping before a follow-up colonoscopy. What are some of the best things to buy at the grocery store when prepping for a colonoscopy? Brooks helps build your shopping list!
One trick for fasting before a colonoscopy
Brooks Bell, the Colonoscopy Enthusiast, Colorectal Cancer Alliance Board Member, and young-onset CRC survivor, is no stranger to colonoscopies. Today, she shares with you a trick she discovered to make fasting before a colonoscopy a little easier — a lot more delicious.
Five Days Before
Here are few things to do / remember beginning 5 days before your appointment:
- Acetaminophen is on the OK list for use
- Plan your menu for the next five days and begin preparing items in advance
- Stop supplements: Herbal, vitamins, fish oil, and oral iron supplements
What foods are allowed five days before my procedure?
Here is a brief list of allowed foods:
- White bread, pasta and noodles, white rice, potatoes without skin
- Canned or well-cooked vegetables without seeds or skin
- Canned fruit or fresh fruit without skin or membranes
- Tender meat, chicken or fish
What foods should I avoid five days before my procedure?
Here is a brief list of foods to avoid:
- Any food containing seeds, nuts or popcorn
- Raw vegetables with a skin, seeds, corn, broccoli, cabbage, dried beans or peas
- Whole grain bread or pasta, brown or wild rice, cereal such as oatmeal, shredded wheat and granola
- Fruit with skins
- Tough meat with gristle
- Fatty foods
Two Days Before
Stay hydrated - 8oz of water per hour that you are awake.
Here are some other important tips for 2 days before your appointment:
- Confirm that you have a driver who will come with you to the appointment (Important detail - must be 18 or older)
- Complete all medical forms
- List all medications you are on
- Find insurance cards
- Prepare first and last names with address of all doctors you want to receive a copy of your procedure
- Determine what you will be wearing (comfortable, loose fitting clothing, tennis or flat shoes)
- Do not wear jewelry, watches or bring valuables
One Day Before
No solid food or alcohol.
Here are some other important tips for 1 days before your appointment:
- Make sure you take the prescribed medications one hour prior to drinking prep solutions so they can absorb Bowel Preparation
- Follow your bowel prep instructions your doctor prescribed
Clear liquids you can consume (no red or purple flavors/colors):
- Juice: apple, white grape
- Drinks that replace electrolytes
- Soda: ginger ale, orange, diet cola
- Coffee or tea (no cream)
- Clear soup, beef broth, chicken broth, bone broth, bouillon
- Hydrate Medications
Liquids you must avoid:
- Milk, shakes, smoothies, dairy products
- Juices: orange, grapefruit, prune (all red or purple juices)
- Any liquids you cannot see through
You got this!
Here are some really important tips:
- If you followed all the instructions, your stool will be a clear or yellow liquid. If it is, then you are ready for your colonoscopy.
- No food or liquid three hours before your scheduled procedure.
- No alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance that could impair your thought process.
- Do not drink alcohol, drive a car, or sign any legal documents until the day after your procedure.
- Stop everything by mouth, including all liquids, smoking and chewing gum.
Looking for more information?
We have some more great information to help make this life-saving process as easy as possible. The links below provide a sample six day guide with suggested meals, links to more screening options, a list of questions to ask your doctor to get this most important conversation rolling and some tips from an experienced community ready to help and support you!