Your Pre-Colonoscopy Checklist

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a colonoscopy.

Let’s face it—there are few things in life people look forward to less than a colonoscopy. Still, this procedure can help detect colon cancer, so avoiding it could be detrimental to your health. Doctors recommend scheduling your first colonoscopy at 50, and then again every five to 10 years after. To make the most of your procedure, we’ve created a checklist for you to follow in advance so things can go as smoothly as possible.

Step 1: Plan it out
You will receive instructions on how to best prepare for your colonoscopy after you schedule your appointment. Follow along and take careful consideration to complete these steps to the best of your ability. Call your doctor with any questions. Also, try to clear your schedule the night before and the day of your procedure. And don’t forget to arrange transportation to and from your doctor’s office.

Step 2: Stock up
You may want to consider purchasing some pre-procedure supplies. Things that can alleviate discomfort or help you prepare include a prescription or over-the-counter laxative, low-fiber foods, sports drinks, juices, broths, moist wipes and diaper cream.

Step 3: Diet dos and don’ts
Start off the cleansing process by eating easily digestible foods 3 to 4 days before your procedure. Stop taking vitamins and other supplements. Ask your doctor if you should stop taking any prescription medications.

What to eat:

  • White bread, pasta and rice
  • Well-cooked vegetables without skin
  • Fruit without skin or seeds
  • Lean meat, chicken or fish
  • Eggs

What not to eat:

  • Seeds, nuts or popcorn
  • Fatty foods
  • Tough meat
  • Whole grains
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruit with seeds or peel
  • Corn, broccoli, cabbage, beans or peas

Step 4: Fast furiously
You can’t eat anything the day before your procedure. This fast helps the doctor get a proper look at your colon. So, it’s completely necessary. Load up on clear liquids to stay hydrated. Avoid anything with heavy dyes, as these can discolor the lining of your colon. And remember, you’ll have to stop drinking entirely about two to four hours before your procedure.

Step 5: Let it all out
The night before your procedure, you’ll need to take a series of strong laxatives to clear out your digestive tract. Most people opt for the split dosing method: this involves drinking a half gallon of laxative at night, then waking up and doing it again six hours before the appointment. Unfortunately, the laxative solution rarely tastes great. If you’re having trouble stomaching it, mix it with a clear flavored drink or powder mix.

If you’re over 50 and haven’t had your colon checked, call your doctor to schedule a colonoscopy. Remember, Service Benefit Plan members pay nothing for preventive screenings.

Curvy blue illustration representing colon.

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