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Clear liquid diet

Surgery - clear liquid diet; Medical test - clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet is made up of only clear fluids and foods that are clear fluids when they are at room temperature. This includes things such as:

  • Clear broth
  • Tea
  • Cranberry juice
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles

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 be instructed to follow this diet if you:

  • Have acute pancreatitis
  • 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. These include:

  • 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
  • Popsicles that do not have bits of fruit, fruit pulp, or yogurt in them
  • Tea or coffee with no cream or milk added
  • Sports drinks that don't have color

These foods and liquids are not OK:

  • Juice with nectar or pulp, such as prune juice
  • Milk and yogurt

Try having a mix of 3 to 5 of these choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is OK to add sugar and lemon to your tea.

Your doctor might ask you to avoid liquids that have red coloring for some tests, such as a colonoscopy.

Do not follow this diet without the supervision of your doctor. Healthy people should not be on this diet longer than 3 to 4 days.

This diet is safe for people with diabetes, but only for a short time when they are followed closely by their doctor.

References

Pham AK, McClave SA. Nutritional management. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 6.

Robeau JL, Hwa KJ, Eisenberg D. Nutritional support in colorectal surgery. In: Fazio VW, Church JM, Delaney CP, Kiran RP, eds. Current Therapy in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 83.

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Review Date: 8/20/2020

Reviewed By: Meagan Bridges, RD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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