What is the Clear Liquid Diet

The Clear Liquid Diet is just as the name says, a diet consisting of only clear liquids like broth, water, and gelatin. Basically, any foods that are easy for the body to digest without leaving any residually undigested food in the tract of your intestines. This diet is prescribed by a physician if you are suffering from some types of digestive issues or before some medical procedures. It is not meant to be used for more than a few days, because it does not give you adequate nutrition or calories.

How the Clear Liquid Diet Works

Normally, the Clear Liquid Diet is started a few days before a surgery, test, or procedure that needs for there to be zero food in your intestines or stomach, like a colonoscopy. Your doctor may also suggest it as a way to alleviate the problems associated with some digestive issues like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Often, the Clear Liquid Diet is given to patients after surgery to ease their body back into solid foods.

Clear liquids are going to be any liquid that is drinkable and transparent. It can have color as long as you can still see through it. Most of the clear liquids are made up of water and sugar, except broth which also has salt. Very strict liquid diets restrict all solid foods even mushy or soft ones like mashed potatoes. Also dairy prducts and citrus juices are not allowed.

What Experts Say about the Clear Liquid Diet

Physicians prescribe the Clear Liquid diet to treat vomiting and diarrhea for a number of reasons. There are certain types of infections that cause your intestinal walls to be unable to absorb any proteins, fats, or solids very well. If you eat these types of things while you have the infection, it can make your vomiting and diarrhea last longer. Clear liquids, however, will be easier for your body to absorb.

Since your body is unable to absorb anything else, the calories from the sugars and water that are in clear liquids will be desperately needed, as well as the electrolytes in the salt of broth. If your body does not get enough water or sugars for energy, your recovery will be much slower. While plain water is great to help dehydration, clear liquids with sugar in them will help to give your body the energy it needs to get healthy.

If, after a full day on the Clear Liquid Diet, your vomiting and diarrhea are improving, you can start back on small portions of certain starchy solid foods such as bread, crackers, or pasta, but forgo the butter, oils, or spicy toppings. If these additions are tolerated well, you can then increase the diet to include most of your regular foods, but dairy products should still be avoided for another week as well as fried, fatty, and spicy foods.

Infants and children under the age of two should follow what doctors cleverly call the BRAT diet. This consists of bananas, rice cereal, apple sauce and juice, and toast. It should only be followed at the doctor's advice, and for just a couple of days. Breast milk is still okay, but formula should be avoided for at least one day. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that formula needs to be added back into the child's diet slowly, but that breast milk is not an issue.

Physicians at the University of Nebraska Medical Center caution that if you have diabetes then you will need to speak to the specialist that handles your diabetes care before beginning a Clear Liquid Diet that is prescribed by another physician. These specialists may need to adjust your medications or insulin. The physicians at the Stanford Medical Center also warn against ingesting any clear liquids that have purple or red coloring. These foods can leave residue inside your intestines that can be mistaken for blood.

Sample Clear Liquid Diet Meal Plan

Breakfast

  • 1 cup of juice
  • ¾ cup of clear broth
  • 1 Popsicle
  • 1 cup of tea with sugar or honey

Morning Snack

  • 1 cup clear sports drink

Lunch

  • ½ cup of juice
  • ¾ cup of clear broth
  • ¾ cup of lemon-lime soda
  • ½ cup of gelatin

Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Popsicle

Dinner

  • ½ cup of juice
  • ¾ cup of clear broth
  • ¾ cup of ginger ale
  • ½ cup gelatin
  • 1 cup of herbal tea with sugar or honey

Evening Snack

  • 1 cup of gelatin
Last Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2011