A clear liquid diet is common in hospitals, especially for patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery.


Criteria for a clear liquid diet:

(1) clear when held up to the light

(2) liquid at body temperature

(3) fat and residue free


Typical items in a clear liquid diet:

(1) fat-free broth or bouillon

(2) gelatin

(3) popsickles or flavored ice

(4) tea or coffee (without milk or cream)

(5) apple juice

(6) strained citrus juice (orange, grapefruit, lemon)

(7) carbonated beverages

(8) liquid supplement that is fat and residue free

(9) honey, sugar or sweetener

(10) hard candy



(1) Some items like bouillon are high in salt and so may not be appropriate for a patient on salt-restriction.

(2) A patient with vomiting and/or diarrhea may require electrolyte replacement.

(3) Dyed fluids should be avoided if endoscopy is to be performed.

(4) The diet is appropriate for a short-term transition in intake but is insufficient for long-term use.

(5) The osmotic load need to be reduced to prevent hyperosmolar diarrhea if the person is debilitated, severely malnourished or has certain gastrointestinal disorders.

(6) Spicy food should be avoided so as not to irritate the GI tract.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.