Clear Liquid Diet

Diet of Clear Liquids

A clear liquid diet is not a weight loss program, but a temporary diet used to help treat specific health conditions or in preparation for or following medical procedures.

Reasons a Diet of Clear Liquids Is Prescribed

A diet of clear liquids serves more than one purpose. It is used to keep the body hydrated and is easy to digest. It doesn't leave much residue in the stomach and intestines and helps the body get used to food again after long periods without food. The clear liquid diet is prescribed for the following reasons:

  • Preparation for surgery
  • Medical tests such as colonoscopy or other procedures that require little food in the stomach or digestive tract.
  • Following surgery when the patient is unable to eat food
  • To treat some cases of diarrhea and vomiting

This diet will be prescribed by a doctor. If abdominal discomfort is experienced, the doctor should be notified right away.

Sample Clear Liquid Diet Foods

Your doctor will most likely give you the particulars you need to follow for a clear liquid diet. In general, the diet includes liquids that are transparent at room temperature. This means you can see through them.

Foods to Eat

A strict diet of clear liquids eliminates all solid foods, but includes:

  • Clear Juices - Clear juices without pulp such as apple juice, cranberry juice or grape juice. No nectars are permitted; remember the juice must be transparent.
  • Broths - Broth, bouillon, fat free consommé
  • Beverages - Usually the following are allowed, but your doctor may further restrict which beverages are allowed: coffee, soft drinks such as HiC, Koolaid, and most juice boxes, soda (with most of the fizz gone), tea, water.
  • Hard Candy - Clear hard candy
  • Ices - Fruit ices made from fruit juice without pulp or chunks of fruit, or popsicles made from clear juices.
  • Gelatin - Jell-O and other similar brands

Foods to Avoid

The above foods are the foods you should eat on a clear liquid diet. Avoid all other foods. Some foods to avoid include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Drinks you can't see through
  • Vegetable juice and tomato juice
  • Dairy products of any kind
  • Fruit juices that contain pulp

Sample Menu

The challenge for those on the clear liquid diet is to take in enough calories. It is only a temporary diet because it doesn't provide enough energy, protein or nutrients. Because of this, a diet of clear liquids should not be followed for more than 5 days unless otherwise directed by your doctor. If that's the case, your health care provider will add a supplement to be used to your diet.The following sample menu is about 1,000 calories:


  • Hot tea with lemon juice (no pulp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz. apple juice
  • 1 cup gelatin


  • Hot tea with lemon (no pulp)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 8 oz. grape juice
  • 1 cup fruit ice
  • 1 cup consommé


  • 8 oz. clear fruit juice
  • 1 cup gelatin


  • Hot tea with lemon (no pulp)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 8 oz. apple juice
  • 1 cup consommé
  • 1 cup fruit ice

Diet of Clear Liquids for Intestinal Health

The clear liquid diet is often used to help treat diarrhea and vomiting for a number of reasons:

  • The sugar and water found in this liquid diet are absorbed even if infection has damaged intestinal cells.
  • It provides necessary calories and water to keep you hydrated and provide carbohydrates needed to speed recovery. When fighting the effects of severe diarrhea, clear liquid intake should be increased to 3-4 quarts a day.
  • Sweet, clear liquids help reduce vomiting. In this case, the intake of liquids should be slower. In severe cases of nausea, the clear liquid can be taken one teaspoons at a time every three minutes until you've consumed one cup. Wait 15 minutes and repeat. After you finish the second cup, wait for at least an hour to see if your stomach accepts the liquid. If you keep it down successfully, continue to take in another cup with small sips.

Returning to Your Normal Diet

Your doctor will gradually ease you from a diet of clear liquids back to whole foods. Most often bland pureed or blended foods are added. This is followed by a transition to soft foods that require chewing and then eventually back to fiber and roughage. This process will be supervised by your doctor or a dietitian.

Clear Liquid Diet