A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that is carried out to identify any abnormalities in the inner linings of the large intestine. The procedure is mainly used to examine any abnormal growths in the colon, such as colorectal cancer or polyps that may develop into cancer. While the initial treatment in itself is direct, the post-procedure to recovery requires great attention for an individual’s well-being. Understanding what to eat after a colonoscopy is essential for a speedy and smooth recovery post-procedure.
While specific dietary instructions regarding food or drink are shared before the procedure, it is equally important to make mindful food choices after the colonoscopy procedure. This includes avoiding any food items that may cause inflammation or are not easily digested. So, what to eat after a colonoscopy? Here is a guide for you.
Clear Liquid: Start slow
Immediately after the colonoscopy procedure, it is advisable to stay on a liquid diet for some time. Food items such as soup, broth, and water are more appropriate options during this period. The main reason behind this is that these food choices are easily absorbed by the body without putting extra strain on the digestive system. Also, any drink or fluids will rehydrate the body and make up for the water you lost during the procedure.
Some of the fluids to rehydrate your body are :
- Clear Soup
- Chicken/Vegetable broth
- Fresh Fruit juice
- Coconut Water
Recommendations – Avoid drinking any pulpy juice immediately after a colonoscopy, as it may cause pulp irritation.
What to eat after a colonoscopy: Food items you can consume
Post-procedure, you can include fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. But remember to control the portion, the quantity of the food items should start initially from small portions and then gradually increase. While thinking of what to eat after a colonoscopy, be mindful of any food items that are spicy or eating raw vegetables as they are not easily digested. This will allow your digestive system to adjust comfortably avoiding any irritation or discomfort from any food items.
Here is a list of fibrous food items that will answer your “what to eat after a colonoscopy” question:
- Well-cooked vegetables – Easily digestible food items such as green beans, carrots, zucchini, and spinach are some of the vegetables you can include in your diet.
- Oatmeal- Oatmeal is rich in fiber and is a suitable option. It can be consumed or can be topped with any fruit to enhance the flavor.
- Sweet potato- Baked or mashed potatoes are not only a delicious option but also offer adequate nutrition.
- Avocado- Mashed or sliced avocado offers healthy fats, it will add more nutrition to your list of dietary fibers.
- Almond or peanut butter- To add a dose of protein to your diet, you can include smooth almond or peanut butter.
- Bananas- Ripened bananas are a good source of fiber and are easily digestible too.
- Well-cooked grains- Some of the fibrous whole grain options are well-cooked white rice or quinoa. These grains are both easily digested and a good source of fiber.
What not to eat after colonoscopy: Food items that are to be avoided
When contemplating What to eat after a colonoscopy, you should also remember to be cautious of some food items that may cause irritation or discomfort. The recovery period after a colonoscopy may vary from person to person, however, it is important to follow specific diets post-procedure to recover quickly.
Some of the food items that should be avoided post-colonoscopy are:
- Spicy food- Avoid taking any spicy food for some time after the procedure as it can irritate your digestive tract.
- Raw Vegetables- Raw vegetables are not easily digested by your body, they will put extra stains on your digestive system which may further cause discomfort. Therefore, skip eating raw vegetables temporarily post-colonoscopy procedure.
- Greasy food- Greasy food such as french fries, potato chips, deep-dish pizzas, onion rings, and cheeseburgers can be hard for your system to process. These food items are high in calories, fat, salt, and refined carbs but low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- Dairy products – Avoid taking dairy products if you are lactose intolerant instead you can opt for soya milk or yogurt.
- Processed food- Packaged snacks such as chips, cookies, crackers, and baked goods or sugary beverages such as sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, and soft drinks should be avoided post-procedure
- Tough protein – Tough protein such as steak should be avoided after the procedure as it is not easy for the digestive system to break down such foods.
- Seeds and nuts- Include avoiding foods, such as seeds, nuts, and popcorn for some time after the colonoscopy.
Health Tips Post Procedure
Understanding what to eat after a colonoscopy is as essential for a successful recovery as adopting certain healthy habits. Some factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, and eating lots of red and processed meats may also prompt a repeat colonoscopy or the development of colon cancer. Therefore, adopting healthy habits also has a large effect on your colon health. An older 2015 study reported that obesity, especially abdominal obesity and type 2 diabetes are risk factors for colon cancer.
Some factors that may increase a person’s chance of repeating colonoscopy or development of colon cancer are:
- Smoking- Smoking is known to increase the risk of various cancers including colon cancer. Therefore avoid smoking as tobacco can adversely affect your body and lead to the development of cancerous cancerous cells.
- Excessive Alcohol consumption- Limit your alcohol intake, excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided for overall health and cancer prevention.
- Obesity- Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Being obese is often linked to increasing the chance of colorectal cancer.
- Poor diet- Diets that include highly processed food or processed red meat are not ideal post-colonoscopy. This in turn will also elevate the risk of colon cancer, hence it is advisable to include essential nutrients that support a healthy digestive system.
What to eat after colonoscopy is not only about being mindful of your food but also includes adopting healthy habits. To ensure a successful recovery you need to follow a specific diet that begins by taking clear fluids including fibrous food items. In addition to this, you should be careful about the portion size post-colonoscopy. Too much of anything good is bad for the body, hence take frequent and small portions first and then gradually increase the portion size. Thus, by practicing conscious choices for your body, you can support your overall health and also avoid the risk of getting any disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much time does it take to recover from colonoscopy?
The typical period for recovery post colonoscopy ranges from 1-2 weeks. However, this time can vary from person to person depending on their age and health.
2. When can you start taking a regular diet after colonoscopy?
You can begin to take a regular diet after 4-5 days after the procedure. Begin by taking easily digestible food items and then reintroduce your normal diet. This will allow the body to adjust and reduce the chance of gas or irritation due to any food items.
3. What to eat after a colonoscopy?
You can start by taking clear fluids such as water and soups and then shift to taking soft foods like mashed potatoes or well cooked vegetables. It is important to stay hydrated and take easily digestible food items to quickly and successfully recover.