There are diets specifically designed for times when someone is facing health issues. These diets are your savior if you want to heal yourself sitting at home. One of those diets is a clear liquid diet. Well, as the name suggests, it includes liquids that are clear – like water, juices or broths – meaning, there should be no floating residual on the fluid. You cannot have pulps, bits of foods or even condiments – anything that is also a bit of solid. You can only add salt or sugar to taste.

These diets have the name clear liquid diet because you can see through them even if they can have their unique color. Clear liquid diets are different from the full liquid diet in a way that full liquid diets are the next step where you can have more variety of the liquid foods.

Why go for a clear liquid diet?

The purpose of a clear liquid diet remains short timed, i.e. one should follow it temporarily only. Since you cannot eat solid foods, this diet tries to fulfill your need for salt, sugar and some nutrients in your body for a while.

This will not meet your body’s demand for all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and calories. You may follow clear liquid diet plan in one of these following scenarios:

Medical tests or surgeries

Your doctor may recommend you a clear liquid diet before some medical tests, surgery or a procedure like a colonoscopy so that your digestive tract remains empty as this involves easy digestion while preventing you from getting dehydrated as well (providing electrolytes like sodium and potassium).

The reason why doctors recommend an empty stomach before surgery is to decrease the risk of vomiting which is not very suitable when you are under the effects of anesthesia.

For procedures like colonoscopy, it is essential to follow a clear liquid diet as directed by the doctor because an inadequate bowel preparation may lead to error in colonoscopy causing your doctor to miss detection of polyps or lesions.

Digestive issues

To give rest to your digestive tract, if you have digestive problems such as vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea, Crohn’s Disease or IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorder). Adapting to a clear liquid diet in such aggravated conditions of the stomach will help you maintain hydration. It will also help you with your nutrition intake by the time your stomach eases up.

clear liquid diet info graphic

Foods to include in a clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet may sound boring or dull, but its purpose is only to heal you or keep you hydrated with not enough but sufficient nutrients. You can include the following in your diet plan.

Beverages

  • Water (pain, carbonated or flavored)
  • Coffee (no cream, sugar allowed)
  • Tea (no cream, sugar allowed)
  • Soft drinks
  • Soda
  • Lactose-free supplements
  • Sports drinks

Fruit juices

  • Clear and strained fruit juices without pulp (apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice)
  • Lemonade (no pulp)

Soups

  • Fat-free Broth (Bouillon or consommé)

Sweets and desserts

  • Honey
  • Popsicles (without bits of fruit, seeds or nuts)
  • Plain gelatin (Jell-O)
  • Clear hard candy

Sample menu for a clear liquid diet

Below is a sample diet to be followed when on the clear liquid diet. But we suggest you take advice from an experienced dietician or medical practitioner.

Breakfast

  • Clear juice (Like Apple, White Grape, White Cranberry, etc.) – 1 cup
  • Clear broth (Chicken, vegetable, etc.) – ¾ of a cup
  • Herbal tea – 1 cup

Morning snack

  • Clear sports drink (Like Gatorade) – 1 cup

Lunch

  • Clear juice – 1 cup
  • Clear broth – ¾ of a cup
  • Lemon or lime soda – ¾ of a cup
  • Flavored gelatin (without fruit) – ½ cup
  • Herbal tea – 1 cup

Afternoon snack

  • Flavored gelatin (without fruit) – 1 cup

Evening meal

  • Clear juice – ½ cup
  • Clear broth – ¾ of a cup
  • Ginger ale – ¾ of a cup
  • Flavored gelatin – ½ cup

Evening snack

  • Ice pop (Popsicle) – 1 No.

Foods to avoid in a clear liquid diet

  • Cream Soups
  • Soups with vegetables, noodles, rice, meat or chunks of food
  • Nectars, canned, fresh, or frozen fruits
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Milk
  • Smoothies
  • Milkshakes
  • Cream
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Soup (other than clear broth)
  • Cooked cereal
  • Juice, Popsicles, or gelatins with red or purple dye

Points to remember

  • Since this diet does not supply you with enough nutrients, you should not follow it for more than 3 to 4 days.
  • Restrict your physical activity if any since you will not have enough calories. If you exercise for 30 minutes, then limit it to 15 minutes while you are on this diet. Walking or doing regular chores is normal.
  • Do not forget to follow the directions of your doctor or dietician carefully. If not done correctly, it might result in inconsistent test results.
  • To keep your energy up, eat at least three meals per day. You can have more than three if you feel like it.
Clear liquid diet includes liquids that are clear - like water, juices or broths – meaning, there should be no floating residual on the fluid. You cannot have pulps, bits of foods or even condiments. Some examples are apple juice, white grape juice, herbal tea, clear broth of chicken or vegetables