A clear liquid diet is made up of only clear fluids and foods that turn to clear fluids when they are at room temperature. It includes things such as:
- Clear broth
- Cranberry juice
This diet is easier to digest than other foods. It still gives you the important fluids, salts, and minerals that you need for energy.
Eating only a clear liquid diet gives you enough nutrition for 3 to 4 days. It is safe for people with diabetes, but only for a short time when they are followed closely by their doctor.
Why You May Need This Diet
You may need to be on a clear liquid diet right before a medical test or procedure, or before certain kinds of surgery. It is important to follow the diet exactly to avoid problems with your procedure or surgery or your test results.
You also may need to be on a clear liquid diet for a little while after you have had surgery on your stomach or intestine. You may also need to be on this diet if you:
- Have diarrhea
- Are throwing up
- Are sick to your stomach
What You Can Eat and Drink
You can eat or drink only the things you can see through. Clear fruit juices are ok, but juice with nectar or pulp are NOT ok. Milk is also NOT ok.
You can have these clear liquids:
- Plain water
- Fruit juices without pulp, such as grape juice, filtered apple juice, and cranberry juice
- Soup broth (bouillon or consommé)
- Clear sodas, such as ginger ale and Sprite
- Gelatin (Jell-O)
- Popsicles that do not have bits of fruit or fruit pulp in them
- Tea or coffee with no cream or milk added
- Sports drinks
Try having a mix of 3 to 5 of these choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Avoid things that are not on the list, including fruit nectars and canned or frozen fruit.
It is okay to add sugar and lemon to your hot tea. Remember: DO NOT add milk or cream to your tea or coffee.
Your doctor might ask you to avoid liquids that have red coloring for some tests, like a colonoscopy.
Clear liquid diet
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition Care Manual: Clear Liquid Diet. Available at: www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed October 28, 2014.
Compass Group. Clear liquid diet. In: Morrison. Manual of Clinical Nutrition Management. Available at: bscn2k15.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/2/12924787/manual_of_clinical_nutrition2013.pdf. Accessed October 28, 2014.
Review Date 10/28/2014
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.