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What to eat before colonoscopy in Singapore

What to eat before colonoscopy in Singapore? Any form of medical procedure is worrisome. For foodies, the restricted diet and fasting required before the event can be just as distressing. We followed a friend’s journey through the process.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice

This is a food blog. For medical advice regarding what food can be eaten 3 days before colonoscopy in Singapore or elsewhere, other resources are more appropriate. Although the objective is the same – i.e. to clean up the colon so that a clean and clear view of the insides can be seen through the scope, there could be differences in the diet guidance for different places. Checking with the professionals at the medical centre where the procedure will be performed is a good place to start.

What to eat before colonoscopy Singapore : 3 Days Before

We will be referring to the pamphlet provided by the National University of Singapore for reference. The guide is very useful for patients undergoing colonoscopy as it will state the date when each of the steps of bowel preparation kicks in. Hence it avoids the ambiguity of whether the 3 day period is inclusive of the day of procedure or not. This is a picture of the relevant part of the NUH colonoscopy preparation guide. Such information is also provided on the Alexandra Hospital website.

NUH colonoscopy preparation guide

Foods To Avoid

According to the NUH guide, these are the types of foods to avoid 3 days before colonoscopy procedure.


  • Fruits, fruit juices and vegetables.
  • Red meat (e.g. duck, beef or mutton).
  • Grain (e.g. nuts or beans).
  • Cereals (e.g. oats, wheat or barley).
  • Milk or milk products.
  • Jelly or agar agar

Our guess is that these foods are high in fibre or are sticky. They may make it difficult for the body to flush out all the gunk in the system – which is the last step of the bowel prep before Colonoscopy Day.

Foods Permitted Before Scope Day

Helpfully, they have also provided supplemental information on what food may be consumed. This list provides more guidance on the type of food that can be eaten 3 days before colonoscopy. It looks like there is sufficient variety even for a foodie to negotiate the demands of a restricted diet over three days.

White Rice, Chicken and Fish

The inclusion of these items in the “approved” food list is a relief for many as these items can form the core of a good meal. Obviously the best and most healthy way is to prepare and cook them at home.


Of course plain fish cooked by itself will be bland and tasteless. The hospital materials do not specify details on how the food should be prepared. A reasonable interpretation was adopted by our friend to provide a fair amount of flavouring (avoiding dark or heavy sauces). For example steamed fish prepared in the usual way seemed fine, as long as he does not consume any of the accompanying vegetables and left them to the rest of the family.

Teochew Food and Restaurants

When we saw the list of food permitted, Teochew food came to mind as a type of food most suitable for the situation. Teochew food tends to be clear and light. If home cooking is not available, a Teochew restaurant would be a good choice. Steamed fish with white rice or porridge immediately comes to mind. Here are pictures from previous visits to Sin Chao Gardens Teochew restaurant and Ah Orh Seafood Restaurant.

Steamed Fish at Sin Chao
Plain Porridge

Ah Orh Seafood Restaurant
Steam Pomfret at At Orh

Affordable light tasting food can be found at many Teochew porridge or chai png stalls at coffee shops and hawker centres in Singapore, such as this popular stall at Ghim Moh Market.


Too much steamed fish can be boring. An alternative form of fish would be grilled fish and our recommendation for a good and cheap place for grilled fish is Nakajima Suisan in Takashimaya Basement 2. Of course any accompanying salad, fruits or grated radish should be avoided.

Chicken Rice

With both chicken and rice being included in the approved food list, one of Singapore’s favourite foods immediately come to mind. Although the type of preparation was not specified, our friend played safe and only ordered the plain steamed versions. He avoided the roasted or soy sauce versions and also the dark and chilli sauce. There are many many chicken rice places in Singapore. See for example our post TOP Singapore Chicken Rice in Katong. Here are pictures of chicken and rice from Pow Sing and Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice.

Pow Sing Chicken Rice
Chicken Rice from Pow Sing Restaurant
Pow Sing Restaurant Chicken Rice
Pow Sing Restaurant
Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice
Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice
Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice
Sing Ho Hainan Chicken Rice

Bee Hoon, Kway Teow and Mee Swa

The next category of food in the approved list of what to eat before colonoscopy are bee hoon, kway teow and mee swa. We believe that the common link among these items is that they are noodles made from white rice or flour. For our friend, these noodle dishes provided a welcome relief from the rice dishes, but care had to be exercised in avoiding the meat and vegetables that usually come with such dishes. Even though the type of food preparation was not specified, our friend took a reasonable approach and stayed clear of dark gravy, curries and other spicy sauces. Here are pictures of san lor hor fun and fish bee hoon soup from Holland Village XO Fish Head and Joy Asian.

Holland-Village XO Fish Head
Joy Asian's San Lor Hor Fun
Joy Asian’s San Lor Hor Fun

Bread, Eggs and Plain Coffee

The category of food that came immediately to mind when we saw these items on the list is another popular Singapore food – local coffeeshop breakfast. This type of food is available all over the island including big coffee shop chains such as Killiney, Ya Kun and Toast Box. The main things to note are that only white bread is permitted (not wholemeal or other grains) and only plain coffee (which our friend interpreted as black coffee since milk is a prohibited item).

There are various types of white bread. Plain white bread can get quite monotonous. During the restricted diet period before colonoscopy, our friend indulged in some upmarket bread from Japanese bakeries. You can read about some of them in our post Breadlines in Joo Chiat | Kamome & Petit Pain.

Kamome Bakery

What to eat before colonoscopy Singapore – The Last 24 Hours

We understand from our friend that the last 24 hours before the colonoscopy procedure was quite demanding, but manageable. By comparison, the restricted diet of the past few days seemed to pass by quite easily. There is a period of fasting required. With the procedure scheduled in the morning, he was advised to have his last meal by 4 pm on the previous day. No more food can be consumed. Only clear liquids were permitted after that. Although it was not explicitly specified, our friend took on a very safe approach for this last meal by observing the above food restrictions more strictly than he had been over the previous days. An early dinner of very lightly flavoured fish bee hoon soup only. Given that everything being eaten (together with all other remaining stuff inside) needed to be flushed out in a few hours, that seemed like a sensible approach.

Bowel Preparation

This is picture of the bowel prep instructions to be done the night before the colonoscopy in the morning.


From this stage on, the process does not concern food. But we will share what we learnt from our friend, in case any one finds this useful.

Some kind of super laxative in powder form was provided. They were to be mixed in 4 litres of water to be consumed over 4 hours – i.e. one large glass (250 ml) every 15 minutes. The process started around 7 pm, finishing around 11 pm. Although the instructions indicated that the bowel-clearing will start after one hour, nothing happened to our friend during the first 2.5 hours. But after that, like in Southern California, it started pouring. The “rain” finally stopped after about 5 hours from the start of the prep session. The important lesson from our friend is that immediate access to a toilet is essential during this period.

Valentine's Day 2015

After a good night’s sleep our friend’s procedure in the morning was quick and easy. Here is a NUH video on preparing for colonoscopy. Hope you find it useful.

The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog

Your body is your biggest asset it's your responsibility to take care of it.― Odeta Stuikys Rosequote
Your body is your biggest asset it’s your responsibility to take care of it.
– Odeta Stuikys Rose

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