A clear liquid diet is just that, 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:

  • Before undergoing a test or procedure that involves the stomach or intestines
  • After surgery, to start the transition back to regular food
  • During flare-ups of certain digestive problems, such as diverticulitis

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 three days.

Foods Allowed

  • Water
  • Tea or coffee (without cream)
  • Juices without pulp (eg, apple, grape, cranberry, prune, lemonade)
  • Clear liquid supplements (eg, 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