Low-Fiber Diet for Colonoscopy

April 01, 2019

Your First Step for an Effective Bowel Cleanse

A colonoscopy is the best way to find colon cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. This test can even help you avoid colon cancer by detecting and removing polyps that can turn into cancer.

Your bowel needs to be as clean as possible to get the most from your colonoscopy. You’ll follow a bowel prep routine the day before your procedure. Eating only low-fiber foods for five days before your colonoscopy makes your bowel prep easier by limiting the amount of undigested food that has to pass through your digestive system.

What are Low-Fiber Foods?

Fiber is the part of foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains that is not digested. If it remains in your bowel it can mask areas that your doctor needs to see. Follow these general guidelines for five days before your colonoscopy:

  • Avoid nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dried beans and peas.
  • Avoid whole grains and cereals.
  • Choose cooked or canned fruits and vegetables over fresh ones.
  • Choose white bread, white rice and products made with refined flour.
  • Drink juices without pulp.
  • Eat tender, well-cooked meats.

Which Foods Should I Eat?

In each of these categories, stay with the listed foods for an easier bowel prep and a more effective colonoscopy:

Milk & milk products

  • Buttermilk
  • Custard
  • Evaporated or powdered milk
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Low-fat ice cream
  • Skim or low-fat milk
  • Sherbet
  • Smooth nonfat or low-fat yogurt without seeds, berries, rinds or nuts


  • Any well-cooked vegetables without seeds (e.g., carrots, asparagus tips, green or wax beans, pumpkin, spinach, lima beans)
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes without skin
  • Strained vegetable juice

Meats & other protein foods

  • Eggs
  • Smooth nut butters (such as creamy peanut butter)
  • Tofu
  • Tender, well-cooked meat, poultry and fish


  • Bread, bagels, rolls, crackers, pasta and cereals made from white or refined flour (e.g., crispy rice cereal and cornflakes)
  • Cooked cereals (farina and creamy rice)
  • White rice


  • Fruit juice without pulp (except prune juice)
  • Most canned, soft and pureed fruit without skin (except pineapple)
  • Peeled apple
  • Ripe banana or melons

Snacks & sweets

  • Hard candy
  • Jell-O
  • Low-fat ice cream
  • Plain cake and plain cookies
  • Plain pudding and custard
  • Pretzels
  • Sherbet, popsicles


  • Coffee, tea
  • Sports drinks (such as Gatorade)
  • Water


  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Margarine, butter, oils, mayonnaise, sour cream and salad dressing
  • Plain gravies
  • Spices, cooked herbs, bouillon, broth, and soups made with allowed vegetables
  • Sugar, clear jelly, honey and syrup

What Foods Should I Avoid?

Stay away from these foods for five days before your colonoscopy.

Milk & milk products

  • Yogurt with seeds, berries, rinds or nuts


  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage and sauerkraut
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Fried vegetables
  • Greens (mustard, turnip, collards)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Potato skins
  • Raw vegetables, except lettuce
  • Winter squash

Meats & other protein foods

  • Chunky nut butters
  • Dried, canned or frozen legumes (such as beans, peas and lentils)
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Tough or chewy cuts of meat


  • Brown rice and wild rice
  • Cereals made from whole grains
  • Grain products made with seeds or nuts
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, rolls, crackers or pasta


  • All raw fruits except peeled apple, ripe bananas and melon
  • Canned berries, canned cherries
  • Dried fruits, including raisins
  • Prunes and prune juice


  • All desserts containing nuts, seeds, dried fruit or coconut or made from whole grain or bran
  • Candy made with nuts or seeds
  • Jam, marmalade, preserves
  • Pickles, olives, relish, horseradish
  • Popcorn

If you have additional questions leading up to your colonoscopy, contact Gastroenterology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center at 781-744-8690.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.