Discharge Instructions: Eating a Clear Liquid Diet

Discharge Instructions: Eating a Clear Liquid Diet

Your doctor has prescribed a clear liquid diet for you. This temporary diet is often prescribed right before surgery or medical tests when you need to have your stomach and intestines free of any food. This diet may also be prescribed after certain types of surgery or if solid food is not tolerated. The clear liquid diet is easy to digest and helps the body gradually get used to food again.

Home Care

  • This diet is temporary. Do not follow this diet longer than directed. It doesn’t provide enough energy or protein for proper nutrition.

  • If you are on this diet for more than 5 days, you may need nutritional or vitamin supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider about this.

  • Keep track of what you eat and drink and how much while on this diet. Keep a log for your doctor.

Choose These Foods

The following foods are okay to have when you are on a clear liquid diet:

  • Water

  • Fruit juices without pulp, such as filtered apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, and pulp-free lemonade

  • Fruit punch or fruit drinks with no pulp or pieces

  • Hot or cold coffee or tea (do not add milk or creamers of any type)

  • Sodas (lemon-lime soda, cola, ginger ale)

  • Sports drinks

  • Clear soup (low-sodium and fat-free broth or bouillon)

  • Plain or flavored gelatin (do not add fruit or toppings)

  • Frozen juice bars made from clear juices (no fruit pieces).

Avoid These Foods

  • Avoid any food or drink not on the approved list above.

  • Ask your healthcare provider whether you should avoid foods and drinks containing red or purple food coloring (they can leave residue that looks like blood on tests).


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 101.4°F or higher

  • Diarrhea that lasts for longer than 24 hours

  • Vomiting that does not stop

  • Trouble urinating

  • Trouble passing gas

  • Abdominal pain with bloating and cramping