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Diet - clear liquid

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 like clear broth, tea, cranberry juice, Jell-O, and Popsicles.

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.

Alternate Names

Clear liquid diet

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, or 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 okay, but juice with nectar or pulp are NOT okay. Milk is also NOT okay.

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 consomm√©)
  • 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.

Updated: 11/12/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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