Preparing for a colonoscopy: The 3-day countdown to a clean colon

A clean colon can lead to a better view of your colon health

A colonoscopy is the only way to screen and prevent colorectal cancer. Patients often say the most challenging responsibility of getting a colonoscopy is ensuring their colon is prepared for the procedure. It’s best to have a clean colon so the gastroenterologist can clearly view abnormalities and polyps, should there be any. Having a clean colon also makes the removal of polyps easier.

When you go to your colonoscopy consultation, you will receive instructions on how to prepare. Here are some general instructions to give you a good idea of what to put on your grocery list. Preparation includes adopting a low-fiber diet by choosing foods that make bowel movements easier and do not cause constipation.

3 Days Out

Three days before your procedure, cut back on some of the foods you are consuming. Think about avoiding foods that have nuts or seeds, which include popcorn. You may eat tender meat such as chicken or fish but avoid tough meat and fatty foods. Do not eat whole grains, including oatmeal, cereal, granola and shredded wheat. Instead, incorporate white bread, white rice, skinless potatoes and pasta into your diet. Raw vegetables and fruit should be avoided, especially those with skin. Say no to broccoli, corn, beans, peas and cabbage. Your doctor may also advise you to stop taking vitamins and medications until after your colonoscopy.

The most important thing is to hydrate during the day by drinking around eight ounces of water each hour.

1 Day Before

On the eve of your colonoscopy, you will have medication you need to take. Stay away from solid foods and alcohol. Instead, drink clear liquids like clear broth, black coffee or tea without cream, and clear juice like apple or white grape. You can drink clear soft drinks and sports drinks that replace electrolytes. You can even have gelatin and popsicles. Do not drink red or purple fruit juices, including prune juice, and don’t drink smoothies, milk or other dairy products. Stick to transparent liquids.

Later in the evening you will start taking the prep solutions your gastroenterologist prescribed to help boost your colon cleanse. The exact instructions on what to consume and when will be provided by your physician, but it is standard for patients to drink two to four liters of an oral liquid.

Colonoscopy Day

If you follow this general guide, along with your gastroenterologist’s instructions, your stool should be a yellow or clear liquid the morning of your colonoscopy. Do not eat, drink or consume any substance (cigarettes, e-cigarettes or marijuana) at least three hours before the colonoscopy. Also, avoid chewing gum or candy. Your gastroenterologist may want you to follow additional instructions depending on your health.

Colonoscopies require a referral to a gastroenterologist. If you need a primary care physician, McLaren has doctors accepting new patients. Visit to find a new provider.