Clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet consists of clear liquids, such as water, broth and plain gelatin, that are easily digested and leave no undigested residue in your intestinal tract. Your doctor may prescribe a clear liquid diet before certain medical procedures or if you have certain digestive problems. Because a clear liquid diet can't provide you with adequate calories and nutrients, it shouldn't be continued for more than a few days.

Purpose

A clear liquid diet is often used before tests, procedures or surgeries that require no food in your stomach or intestines, such as before colonoscopy. It may also be recommended as a short-term diet if you have certain digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, or after certain types of surgery.

Diet details

A clear liquid diet helps maintain adequate hydration, provides some important electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, and gives some energy at a time when a full diet isn't possible or recommended.

The following foods are allowed in a clear liquid diet:

  • Plain water
  • Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple juice, grape juice or cranberry juice
  • Strained lemonade or fruit punch
  • Clear, fat-free broth (bouillon or consomme)
  • Clear sodas
  • Plain gelatin
  • Honey
  • Ice pops without bits of fruit or fruit pulp
  • Tea or coffee without milk or cream

Any foods not on the above list should be avoided. Also, for certain tests, such as colon exams, your doctor may ask you to avoid liquids or gelatin with red coloring.

A typical menu on the clear liquid diet may look like this.

Breakfast:
1 glass fruit juice
1 cup coffee or tea (without dairy products)
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin

Snack:
1 glass fruit juice
1 bowl gelatin

Lunch:
1 glass fruit juice
1 glass water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin

Snack:
1 ice pop (without fruit pulp)
1 cup coffee or tea (without dairy products) or a soft drink

Dinner:
1 cup juice or water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin
1 cup coffee or tea

Aug. 13, 2011 See more In-depth