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Clear Liquid Diet

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

What is a clear liquid diet?

A clear liquid diet is made up of clear liquids and foods that are liquid at room temperature. The clear liquid diet provides liquids, sugar, salt, and some nutrients until you can eat solid food. The clear liquid diet does not provide all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, or calories that your body needs. Healthcare providers will tell you when you can start to eat regular foods.

Why do I need to be on a clear liquid diet?

You may need to be on a clear liquid diet before a test or surgery on your stomach or bowels (small and large intestines). You may also need this diet if you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or trouble eating solid food. Clear liquids are easily digested and do not put a strain on your stomach or intestines. They also help to keep your digestive tract empty. The digestive tract is the path that food takes through your body as it is digested.

What liquids and foods can I include?

  • Clear juices (such as apple, cranberry, or grape), strained citrus juices or fruit punch
  • Coffee or tea (without cream or milk)
  • Water
  • Clear sports drinks or soft drinks, such as ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, or club soda (no cola or root beer)
  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé
  • Plain popsicles (no popsicles with pureed fruit or fiber)
  • Hard candy
  • Flavored gelatin without fruit

What liquids and foods should I avoid?

  • All solid foods, such as bread, pasta, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and protein foods
  • Beverages containing alcohol
  • Dairy products, such as milk, hot cocoa, buttermilk, and cream
  • Fruit smoothies, nectars, fruit juices with pulp, and prune juice
  • Tomato and vegetable juices
  • Soups that contain vegetables, noodles, rice, or meat

What is sample menu for a clear liquid diet?

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of juice, ¾ cup of clear broth, ½ cup of lemon gelatin, and 1 cup of coffee with sugar
  • Morning snack: 1 cup of a clear sports drink
  • Lunch: ½ cup of juice, ¾ cup of clear broth, ¾ cup of lemon-lime soda, and 1 popsicle (equals about 2 ounces of liquid)
  • Afternoon snack: 1 popsicle
  • Evening meal: ½ cup of juice, ¾ cup of clear broth, ¾ cup of ginger ale, ½ cup of flavored gelatin, and 1 cup of herbal tea with honey or sugar
  • Evening snack: 1 cup of flavored gelatin

What are the risks of a clear liquid diet?

The clear liquid diet does not provide all the nutrients you need. You may need to drink a nutrition supplement if you have to follow this diet for more than 3 days. If you do not follow this diet, you may continue to have diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting if you were asked to follow this diet because of these problems.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.