Clear Liquid Diet

The clear liquid diet consists of foods that are liquid or will become liquid at room temperature. You should be able to see through the liquid and beverages. Examples of foods allowed on a clear liquid diet include fruit juice, broth or bouillon, gelatin, or frozen ice pops.

The purpose of this diet is to provide necessary fluid, electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, and energy to keep the body functioning during times when you are not able to consume a regular diet. A clear liquid diet should not be continued for long periods of time as it is not nutritionally adequate.

REASONS FOR USING A CLEAR LIQUID DIET

  • In sudden onset (acute) conditions for a patient before or after surgery.

  • As the first step in oral feeding.

  • For fluid and electrolyte replacement in diarrheal diseases.

  • As a diet before certain medical tests are performed.

ADEQUACY

The clear liquid diet is adequate only in ascorbic acid, according to the Recommended Dietary Allowances of the National Research Council.

CHOOSING FOODS

Breads and Starches

  • Allowed: None are allowed.

  • Avoid: All are avoided.

Vegetables

  • Allowed: Strained tomato or vegetable juice.

  • Avoid: Any others.

Fruit

  • Allowed: Strained fruit juices and fruit drinks. Include 1 serving of citrus or vitamin C-enriched fruit juice daily.

  • Avoid: Any others.

Meat and Meat Substitutes

  • Allowed: None are allowed.

  • Avoid: All are avoided.

Milk

  • Allowed: None are allowed.

  • Avoid: All are avoided.

Soups and Combination Foods

  • Allowed: Clear bouillon, broth, or strained broth-based soups.

  • Avoid: Any others.

Desserts and Sweets

  • Allowed: Sugar, honey. High protein gelatin. Flavored gelatin, ices, or frozen ice pops that do not contain milk.

  • Avoid: Any others.

Fats and Oils

  • Allowed: None are allowed.

  • Avoid: All are avoided.

Beverages

  • Allowed: Cereal beverages, coffee (regular or decaffeinated), tea, or soda at the discretion of your caregiver.

  • Avoid: Any others.

Condiments

  • Allowed: Iodized salt.

  • Avoid: Any others, including pepper.

Supplements

  • Allowed: Liquid nutrition beverages.

  • Avoid: Any others that contain lactose or fiber.

SAMPLE MEAL PLAN

Breakfast

  • 4 oz (120 mL) strained orange juice.

  • ½ to 1 cup (125 to 250 mL) gelatin (plain or fortified).

  • 1 cup (250 mL) beverage (coffee or tea).

  • Sugar, if desired.

Midmorning Snack

  • ½ cup (125 mL) gelatin (plain or fortified).

Lunch

  • 1 cup (250 mL) broth or consommé.

  • 4 oz (120 mL) strained grapefruit juice.

  • ½ cup (125 mL) gelatin (plain or fortified).

  • 1 cup (250 mL) beverage (coffee or tea).

  • Sugar, if desired.

Midafternoon Snack

  • ½ cup (125 mL) fruit ice.

  • ½ cup (125 mL) strained fruit juice.

Dinner

  • 1 cup (250 mL) broth or consommé.

  • ½ cup (125 mL) cranberry juice.

  • ½ cup (125 mL) flavored gelatin (plain or fortified).

  • 1 cup (250 mL) beverage (coffee or tea).

  • Sugar, if desired.

Evening Snack

  • 4 oz (120 mL) strained apple juice (vitamin C-fortified).

  • ½ cup (125 mL) flavored gelatin (plain or fortified).