General Nutrition and Considerations

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The clear liquid diet does not adhere to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; it will not meet your nutritional needs. You should advance your diet to full liquids, a puréed or soft diet, or a regular diet as soon as you’re cleared to do so.

If you need to follow the diet for more than a few days, your doctor may recommend adding additional supplements or high-protein gelatin to boost your caloric and nutrient intake.

Recommended Timing

You should try to eat or drink on somewhat of a regular schedule to stay hydrated and as full as possible. Clear liquids are digested very quickly, so they aren’t as satisfying as a full meal. Aim to eat or drink about six times each day.

If you’re scheduled for a procedure or surgery, make sure you follow your medical provider’s instructions about when to stop the clear liquid diet. It’s usually recommended that you have nothing by mouth within two hours of your procedure to reduce the risk of aspiration

Side Effects

Although the clear liquid diet can take the strain off of your gastrointestinal tract, it may leave you feeling a bit weak and dizzy if you try to do too much. Take it slow while you’re on the diet and avoid any extreme activity. You should be able to resume your normal routine once you’re back to eating regular meals.

Dietary Restrictions

Although it’s low in calories, a clear liquid diet can be high in carbs if you rely on sodas, juices, and other sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. It can also be high in sodium if you’re eating broth multiple times each day. These may be concerns if you’re on a low-sugar or low-salt diet, so you might need to choose modified products.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to check with your clinician to see if you should use sugar-free clear liquids. If you take insulin or glucose-lowering medications, you may need to have your dose adjusted on this diet. It’s also a good idea to check your blood sugar more frequently to avoid any risk of hyper or hypoglycemia.

A clear liquid diet can be a choking hazard if you have dysphagia or a problem swallowing thin liquids. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for an approved thickener to thicken your liquids to the right consistency.

Clear Liquid Diet vs. Full Liquid Diet

If you need to remain on a liquid diet for a longer duration, but a clear liquid diet is no longer necessary, your doctor may advance you to a full liquid diet. Full liquids are those that you can’t see through, like milk, nectars, cream soups, and melted ice cream and sherbet. Full liquids require a bit more work to digest and they do contribute some residue to your colon.

A full liquid diet is still low in calories and nutrients, but not as low as a clear liquid diet. It also provides more variety and is higher in protein. It’s considered a bridge between a liquid and a soft or puréed foods diet.

Do not change to a full liquid diet without your doctor’s OK.

It’s important to note that a clear liquid diet is not meant to be followed for more than a few days and is only advised under the guidance of your healthcare provider. It is not meant to be used as a “detox” or weight loss diet 🙂 🙂

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