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Clear Liquid Diet

A clear liquid diet is a diet consisting of foods and beverages made from liquids that you can see through. This type of diet is easily digested and leaves no residue in the gastrointestinal tract.

In the past, a clear liquid diet was routinely prescribed for hospitalized patients, often for several days. These days, though, it is generally avoided, unless absolutely necessary. A clear liquid diet may be necessary when the gastrointestinal tract needs to be free of food or needs to rest, for instance:

Although this diet allows for adequate hydration, it does not provide enough calories and nutrients. Therefore, be sure your doctor is following you closely while you are on this diet. Also, do not stay on this diet for more than a few days.

Foods Allowed

  • Water
  • Tea or coffee (without cream)
  • Juices without pulp such as apple, grape, cranberry, prune, and lemonade
  • Clear liquid supplements such as Boost Fruit Flavored Beverage or Enlive
  • Soda
  • Clear broth or bouillon
  • Gelatin without bits of fruit
  • Popsicles without fruit or cream
  • Italian ice

Sugar, salt, and pepper are also allowed.

Foods to Avoid

Any foods not on the above list, including:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Smoothies
  • Milk shakes
  • Soup
  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of wheat
  • American Gastroenterological Association

  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

  • Dietitians of Canada

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Clear liquid diet. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: Accessed September 10, 2015.

  • Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 19, 2015. Accessed September 10, 2015.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.