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Clear Liquids Diet

Need for the diet:
The clear liquid diet is a temporary diet that is used in several different settings:
  • Preparation for surgery and medical tests such as sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and other x-rays or tests that require little food in the stomach and intestines.
  • When someone has been unable to eat any food for several days or after surgery.

The clear liquids diet helps to keep you hydrated (body fluids, salts and minerals) and helps to get the body used to food after long periods of time without food. The clear liquids diet is easy to digest and does not leave much residue in the stomach and intestines.

Important Considerations:
  • If you experience abdominal discomfort, such as cramps or pain, contact your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
  • The clear liquids diet does not provide enough energy, protein and many other nutrients for daily use. This diet is temporary and should not be used for more than 5 days. If you are on this diet for more than 5 days, your doctor and/or dietitian will tell you which supplement to use.
  • The amount of liquid that you drink or eat on this diet may be important. If your doctor sets a limit about the amount, follow those directions carefully.

How to choose the clear liquid diet: 

Liquids that you can see through at room temperature (about 78-72 degrees Fahrenheit) are considered clear liquids. This includes clear juices, broths, hard candy, ices and gelatin. The table below will help you with your choices. 

Clear Liquids Diet Options

  Choose these foods / beverages Do not eat these foods / beverages
Fruits/juices Clear fruit juices without pulp such as apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice. Nectars, canned, fresh, or frozen fruits.
Soups Broth, bouillon, fat free consommé. Cream soups, soups with vegetables, noodles, rice, meat or other chunks of food in them.
Beverages Coffee, tea (hot or cold), Kool-Aid, soda, water, lactose free supplements if recommended by your doctor. All others.
Sweets and deserts Fruit ices (without chunks of fruit), plain gelatin, clear hard candy, popsicle made from clear juices. All others.
Vegetables None All
Milk and dairy products None All
Bread, cereals and grain products None All
Meat, Chicken, Fish, and meat substitutes (nuts, tofu, etc.) None All
Oils, butter, margarine None All

Sample Menu: Clear Liquids Diet*

Breakfast Hot tea with lemon juice and 1 tsp sugar (no pulp); Apple juice (8 oz); Gelatin (1 cup)
Lunch Hot tea with lemon (no pulp) and sugar; Grape juice (8 oz); Fruit Ice (1 cup); Consommé (8 oz.)
Snack Fruit juice (apple, cranberry or grape, 8 oz); Gelatin (1 cup)
Dinner Hot tea with lemon (no pulp) and sugar; Apple juice (8 oz); Consommé (8 oz); Fruit Ice (1 cup)

*This diet contains approximately 1000 calories, 1 g fat and 14 grams of protein. 

Credits for this dietary information go to Maureen Murtaugh, PhD. 

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