Clear Liquid Diet
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Clear Liquid Diet

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.

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 doesn’t 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:
    • 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
    • Milkshakes
    • Soup
    • Oatmeal
    • Cream of Wheat


American Gastroenterological Association

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse


Canadian Health Network

Dietitians of Canada


The John Hopkins hospital/outpatient center clear liquid diet. The John Hopkins Medical Institutions. Available at: . Accessed March 22, 2007.

Special diets for special needs: clear liquid, low fiber, and low residue. Mayo Clinic. Available at: . Accessed March 22, 2007.

Last reviewed May 2008 by Dianne Scheinberg, MS, RD, LDN

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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