Clear Liquid Diet

*Special Note*

Although a clear liquid diet can prevent dehydration, these instructions aren’t meant to reverse moderate or severe cases. For treatment of dehydration, click here for [Dehydration and Oral Rehydrating Solutions.]


Instructions For A Clear Liquid Diet

"Clear liquids" are any transparent drinkable liquid. Like glass, it might have color, but you should still be able to see through it. Usually they contain mostly sugar and water (except for broths and bullion, which are salty). A strict clear liquid diet excludes all solids (even noodles in soup), milk products, and citrus (orange, grapefruit) juices. See the list below for a variety of clear liquid recommendations. They are only appropriate for adults and children over 3 years.

These must be diluted by one-half with ice or water first.

  • Clear snack drinks like Hi-C, Kool-Aid, and most juice boxes
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles
  • Bullion or clear broth (skimmed of fat)
  • Cranberry, grape and apple juices
  • Some types of soda pop; non-caffeinated, no artificial sweeteners, and most carbonation (fizz) should be gone


Why Are Clear Liquids Recommended For Intestinal Illness?

A clear liquid diet is important in some cases of diarrhea and vomiting for several reasons:


Clear Liquid Advice For Diarrhea

For severe diarrhea you should drink as much clear liquid as possible, including small amounts of the salted ones like bullion; 3-4 quarts per day for an adult is not too much. The goals are to prevent dehydration, allow the intestines to recover, and provide food energy for healing and other basic functions.


Clear Liquid Advice For Vomiting

With vomiting, you have to be more careful. Even clear liquids can be thrown back up in bad cases. Follow these slow steps, and you’ll usually have good success.


Resuming Your Normal Diet

If diarrhea and vomiting are under good control for 24 hours, you can start eating small amounts of starchy foods (crackers, bread, pasta). Don’t use butter, oil, or spicy toppings, though. If that goes well for 24 hours, you can resume a nearly normal diet, except:

Special note for treatment of infants. You needn’t withhold breast milk or formula from an infant for long. Studies show diarrhea and vomiting in infants are no worse when they begin nursing or formula feeding after just 12 hours of clear liquids than if you wait 24 hours or more. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests re-introducing formula slowly, but nursing should be fine. For the first 12 hours, you should also use a commercial oral re-hydrating solution (ORS - click here for Dehydration and Oral Rehydrating Solutions) in infants rather than the clear liquids listed above. And remember, children under six months with vomiting or diarrhea should be seen by a doctor.

More than clear liquid diet on our Self Care Home Page



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