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Colonoscopy Prep: Going Liquid

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In preparation for your colonoscopy, your doctor will prescribe a clear liquid diet, along with a laxative to completely clear the colon of stool and fluid. The diet, which provides some energy and maintains the body's fluids, salts, and minerals, offers more foods and choices than you may realize. Here’s what you should know …

A diet of clear liquids consists exclusively of products that are liquid and transparent at room temperature. The fluids don't need to be entirely clear, but you should be able to see through them. The following foods and drinks are allowed prior to a colonoscopy:

 

  • water
  • clear broth (beef or chicken)
  • fat-free consommé
  • juices (apple, prune, grape, cranberry, and cider) without pulp
  • noncarbonated, powder-based beverages (such as Tang, fruit punch, lemonade, and Kool-Aid)
  • sodas (Sprite, 7-Up, ginger ale, and seltzer)
  • coffee or tea (without milk or cream)
  • clear gelatin (without fruit pieces)
  • popsicles (without fruit pieces or cream)
  • fruit ices
  • clear, hard candies
  • salt, pepper, and sugar

Although they're liquid, the following foods are not translucent enough to be permitted on a clear liquid diet before a colonoscopy:

 

  • milk
  • cream
  • milkshakes
  • tomato juice
  • orange juice
  • grapefruit juice
  • cream soups
  • any soup other than broth
  • oatmeal
  • farina

 

Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a clear liquid diet, as he or she may have further restrictions based on your particular circumstances. For example, while cranberry juice is generally approved on a clear liquid diet, you may be advised to avoid it if you're having a colonoscopy since it can be mistaken for blood. In fact, you may need to avoid anything with red or purple coloring -- gelatin, popsicles, and hard candies.

Some people, unfortunately, may avoid having a colonoscopy thinking that they can't go without food for an entire day before the exam. But a clear liquid diet, such as the sample one described below, allows more food choices than you might think and can provide about 1,000 calories a day.

Breakfast -- 8 oz of apple juice, 1 cup of gelatin (without fruit), 1 cup of coffee with sugar but no milk or cream

Lunch --1 cup of chicken consommé, 8 oz of ginger ale, 1 cup of fruit ice, hot tea with sugar and lemon (no pulp)

Snack -- 1 or 2 clear hard candies

 

Dinner -- 1 cup of beef broth, 8 oz of lemonade, 1 cup of gelatin (without fruit), hot tea with sugar and lemon (no pulp)

 

Posted in Colon Cancer on January 12, 2010
Reviewed January 2011


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


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Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


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