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The Best and Worst Foods to Eat After A Colonoscopy

August 10, 2022
A cup of tea and some crackers

A colonoscopy screening requires a low-fiber and clear liquid diet before the procedure to clean out the colon. After the colonoscopy, it is important to slowly re-introduce a normal diet by beginning with foods that are gentle on the digestive system. Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, NY, walks through what to eat after a colonoscopy and discusses foods to avoid.

What to Eat After a Colonoscopy

Physicians typically recommend mild foods that are easy on the overall digestive system following a colonoscopy screening. Another common practice after the procedure is to follow a low-residue diet. A low-residue diet means eating foods that are low in fiber and avoiding excessive amounts of dairy. This approach helps ensure the patient eats only easily-digestible foods that do not produce too much stool, ultimately promoting a more comfortable experience in the days following a colonoscopy. Some food choices to consider after the procedure include:

  • Sports drinks high in electrolytes
  • Fruit juice (apple, orange, cranberry, white grape)
  • Herbal tea (without milk or cream)
  • Plain crackers (lightly salted or unseasoned)
  • Soup (chicken noodle, Italian wedding, and plain broth)
  • Scrambled eggs (without added seasonings or dairy products)
  • Canned fruit (peaches, pineapple, and fruit cocktails)
  • Toast on white bread – not whole grain or wheat bread
  • Yogurt
  • Jello
  • Pudding
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed or baked potatoes
  • Soft white fish with minimal seasoning (wild Alaska pollock, bass, cod, grouper, haddock, and halibut)

What Foods to Avoid Following a Colonoscopy

Although colonoscopy procedures are short and relatively uncomplicated, they still have a considerable effect on the human body. This impact is mostly due to the preparation before the exam. Since air is introduced into the colon during the exam, it is common to experience gas or queasiness following the procedure. As a result, a patient may want to limit certain foods that could increase gas and intensify a queasy feeling. The following are some foods and drinks to stay away from for a few days after a colonoscopy:

  • Beer, wine, seltzers, and other alcoholic beverages
  • Whole grains (crackers, brown rice, whole grain bread)
  • Steak and other tough meats that are hard to digest
  • Snack mixes with dried fruit, raisins, and dried cranberries
  • Breaded and fried foods cooked in oil or grease
  • Strong spices (garlic, curry, pepper)
  • Uncooked vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, chia seeds, chestnuts, dried coconut, flax seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, squash seeds)

This list contains foods that are either difficult to digest, high in fiber, or too heavy on the system. It is advantageous to avoid these foods for a few days after the procedure to keep any gastrointestinal side effects at a minimum. Additionally, for patients who have polyps removed during their colonoscopies, the gastroenterology and endoscopy physician also may recommend other specific foods to avoid.

Other Considerations After a Colonoscopy

Food is not the only factor to consider following a colonoscopy. Although the procedure is widely-used and safe, patients may experience some complications once they leave the healthcare facility. A common complaint is stomach pain, which usually persists for only one to two days after the colonoscopy. However, if you experience some of the following more serious complications contact your physician immediately: 

  • Fever
  • Severe stomach pain or cramping
  • A hard stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty passing gas or with bowel movements
  • Lightheadedness
  • Bloody bowel movements

Learn More About Post-Colonoscopy Care with Richmond University Medical Center

People who wish to know more about the colonoscopy process, including how to prepare and what they should and should not eat following the procedure, should turn to Richmond University Medical Center. Besides providing care to patients, the healthcare facility also serves as a teaching institution, educating residents on the various and complex aspects of acute, medical, and surgical care.

Those looking to schedule a colonoscopy can reach out to request an appointment, contact us today.