What sweets can I have before a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows doctors to examine the inside of your large intestine (colon) for signs of cancer, polyps or other abnormalities using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end called a colonoscope.

Before a colonoscopy, you will need to follow a restricted diet called a clear liquid diet for at least 24 hours beforehand. This means no solid foods or dairy products. The purpose of the clear liquid diet is to clean out your colon so the doctor can see your colon walls clearly during the procedure.

Many people wonder if they can have any sweets at all before a colonoscopy while following the clear liquid diet. This article will outline which sweet foods and drinks may be allowed in the day or two before a colonoscopy exam.

Why Follow a Clear Liquid Diet Before Colonoscopy?

It’s very important to follow the physician’s instructions for the clear liquid diet before a colonoscopy. This restricted diet serves a few key purposes:

– Cleanses the colon – Solid foods can leave residue and debris inside the colon. Clear liquids help flush everything out so the colon walls are clean for the procedure.

– Avoids constipation – The clear liquid diet prevents constipation, further clearing the colon.

– Prevents complications – Eating solid foods too soon before the exam can increase the risk of complications like vomiting during the colonoscopy.

– Allows for thorough exam – Following the liquid diet helps the doctor see any polyps, inflammation or other abnormalities during the procedure without obstacles like solid stool getting in the way.

So while it may seem very restrictive, the clear liquid diet before a colonoscopy is a key part of the preparation for this important screening test.

What Can You Drink Before a Colonoscopy?

The clear liquid diet allows for many clear fluids without any solid pieces or pulp. Here are some of the allowed clear liquids before a colonoscopy:

– Water – Plain or flavored water without any added sugars, sweeteners or pulp is allowed.

– Soft drinks – Clear sodas like ginger ale, Sprite or seltzer water are permitted. Avoid dark sodas like cola.

– Juices – Clear fruit juices without pulp like apple juice, white grape juice, lemonade or cranberry juice are usually allowed. Orange juice or other juices with pulp should be avoided.

– Tea and coffee – These beverages are allowed on the clear liquid diet as long as you don’t add any dairy or creamer.

– Broths – Clear broths like chicken, vegetable or beef broth can help provide sodium and nutrients.

– Gelatin – Plain, sugar-free gelatin products can satisfy a sweet tooth.

– Popsicles – Flavored ice pops without fruit or cream may also be permitted.

What Sweet Foods Can You Eat?

The clear liquid diet is very restrictive when it comes to food. However, there are a few sweets that may be allowed in the day before a colonoscopy:

– Hard candies – Plain hard candies with no chocolate, nuts or fruit fillings are generally permitted. Sucking on a lemon drop or butterscotch candy can help satisfy a sugar craving.

– Honey – A small amount of pure honey may be allowed to sweeten tea or help with hunger.

– Clear gelatin – Flavored gelatin made with allowed clear liquids can make for a sweet, quivering snack.

– Sorbet – Some physicians allow lemon or lime sorbet with no chunks or fruit pieces.

– Italian ice – This chilly, sweet treat may also make the approved list, but check first.

– Jello – Small amounts of dry Jello powder added to gelatin can provide flavor variety.

Foods to Avoid Before Colonoscopy

While the above foods may be allowed in moderation, there are many foods and drinks that must be avoided on the day before a colonoscopy exam. These include:

– Milk and dairy – Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cream should all be avoided.

– Juice with pulp – Orange, tomato, pineapple and other pulpy juices are too thick. Stick to clear juices.

– Alcoholic beverages – Beer, wine and liquor can leave residues and irritate the bowel.

– Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk – Despite the name, these should be avoided as they are too thick.

– Soups – Broths are allowed but avoid stews, creamed soups and soups with veggies, noodles, meats or grains.

– Red or purple colored juices -The coloring agents can make viewing the colon difficult during the colonoscopy.

– Blended fruit smoothies – The texture is too thick even if blended to be “smooth.”

– Any solids foods – This includes crackers, cereals, meat, eggs, granola bars, chips, bread, rice, beans, etc.

When in doubt, stick to approved clear fluids only in the 24 hours prior to your colonoscopy appointment.

Sample Clear Liquid Diet Menu Before Colonoscopy

Wondering what you can eat the day before your colonoscopy while sticking to the clear liquid diet? Here is a sample menu:

– Water
– 1 cup apple juice
– Clear jelly on toast (optional)
– Black coffee or tea

Mid-morning snack:
– 1 cup lemon-lime soda
– Plain gelatin dessert

– Chicken broth
– Italian ice
– Tea or coffee

Afternoon snack:
– Plain popsicle
– Hard candy

– Beef broth
– 1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
– Flavored gelatin

Evening snack:
– Soft ginger ale
– Sorbet without fruit/add-ins

This sample menu incorporates a variety of allowed clear fluids plus some sweets to help satisfy hunger and cravings on the day before the colonoscopy prep.

When to Stop Eating Solid Foods Before Colonoscopy?

In general, patients are instructed to begin the clear liquid diet 24-48 hours prior to the scheduled colonoscopy procedure. So if your colonoscopy is scheduled for 10am on a Wednesday, you would likely be asked to switch to clear liquids only starting Monday morning.

The exact timing can vary based on several factors:

– Type of colonoscopy prep – With a split prep, you may drink one dose the evening before and another the morning of the test, requiring clear liquids even longer beforehand.

– Appointment time – For very early morning procedures, you’ll start the clear liquid diet further in advance.

– Bowel movement patterns – Constipation may require starting the clear liquid diet earlier to flush out the colon.

– Doctor instructions – Follow your physician’s guidelines on when to start the restricted diet as it may depend on health factors.

Expect to stop all solid foods about 2 days beforehand, but this can range from 24 hours to up to 3 days on a clear liquid diet before the colonoscopy appointment.

Tips for Following the Clear Liquid Diet

Switching to only clear liquids can be very challenging for a day or more. Here are some tips to help:

– Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water, broth and other approved beverages so you don’t get dehydrated.

– Get enough calories – While on the clear liquid diet, you’ll only take in about 500-600 calories a day. The limited calories may lead to hunger pangs. Sipping on caloric beverages can help.

– Avoid overdoing sweets – While gelatin and popsicles are allowed, don’t overindulge in sugary drinks as this can leave you lightheaded.

– Manage caffeine – Caffeine in coffee and tea can be dehydrating. Drink plenty of decaf and non-caffeinated beverages as well.

– Consider supplements – Your doctor may recommend a daily multivitamin or electrolyte supplement to get key nutrients.

– Ease back into solids slowly – After the procedure, don’t jump right back into greasy burgers and fries. Ease back in with simple foods.

– Stock up on allowed items – Shop ahead of time so you have all the approved clear liquids on hand before you start the restricted diet.

Staying well-hydrated and getting some calories from broth and other liquids will help you get through the clear liquid diet before your colonoscopy.

What Can You Eat After a Colonoscopy?

Once your colonoscopy procedure is complete, you’ll want to begin adding solid foods back into your diet. However, you may need to start slowly and avoid certain foods at first. Here are some tips:

– Wait until bowel movements resume – Allow some time for the bowel prep to fully move through your system before eating solid foods.

– Stick to simple foods – Begin with bland foods like crackers, plain rice, eggs or toast. Avoid spicy or greasy foods.

– Go easy on fiber – Gradually increase fiber over a few days. Suddenly increasing fiber can cause gas or discomfort.

– Drink lots of fluids – Continue to stay hydrated and stick with clear liquids for a while after the exam.

– Avoid certain foods – Your doctor may instruct you to avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn, raw fruits and vegetables for up to 3 days until the colon has healed.

– Resume normal diet slowly – Over several days, you can begin incorporating more proteins, dairy products, fruits, veggies and grains.

– Watch for complications – If you experience fever, rectal bleeding, extreme pain or dehydration, call your physician promptly.

Follow your doctor’s specific instructions on easing back into your regular diet after the colonoscopy exam to allow your colon time to heal.

Foods to Avoid After Colonoscopy

While many foods can be gradually reintroduced over several days, some foods and drinks should continue to be avoided for a short time after the colonoscopy. These include:

– Alcohol – Alcohol can irritate the colon after the bowel prep and procedure. Avoid drinking alcohol for 1-2 days afterwards.

– Raw produce – Steer clear of salads, uncooked veggies and fresh fruit for a couple days until bowel movements normalize.

– Dried fruit – Prunes, raisins, dried apricots and other dried fruits are too high in fiber initially.

– Whole grains – Temporaryly avoid whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Stick to refined grains.

– Fatty foods – Greasy, fried fare may cause discomfort or diarrhea. Avoid these for at least 1 day after.

– Spicy foods – Foods seasoned with hot peppers or other spices can further irritate the colon.

– Nuts and seeds – Due to their fiber content, nuts and seeds may cause unpleasant symptoms after the procedure.

– Caffeine – Limit caffeinated beverages which can contribute to dehydration after the colon prep.

Follow your physician’s instructions, but expect to avoid high-fiber foods and alcohol for 1-3 days after the colonoscopy exam.


Preparing for a colonoscopy requires following a clear liquid diet 24-48 hours beforehand. While this restrictive diet eliminates most foods and beverages, there are some sweets like plain gelatin, popsicles and hard candies that are usually permitted the day before the procedure. Just 1-2 days of limiting intake to clear fluids like juice, broth and water can sufficiently cleanse the colon for the colonoscopy. After the exam, slowly work solid foods back into your meals over several days as your digestive system recovers. With the right preparation, a colonoscopy allows doctors to screen for cancer and other conditions to keep your colon healthy.

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