Clear Liquid Diet – What to Eat and What to Skip

Header Image for Article on Clear Liquid Diet

When you’re having a medical procedure or imaging exam, your doctor might ask that you not eat or drink anything except clear liquids before the exam. But what foods can you eat on a clear liquid diet, and what should you skip?

Clear Liquid Diet – The Facts

Your doctor or radiologist might need you to have a clear liquid diet hours or a day before your medical imaging exam or procedure. Most people think that “clear liquids” refers to water. And yes, clear liquids include plain water, but you actually have more options than that. Clear liquids can also include things like tea and coffee (without cream), popsicles (without pulp or yogurt), and cranberry juice.

“Clear” refers to the fact that the liquids do not have added substances like milk or solid foods. The reasons for the “clear liquids” restriction vary depending on what kind of test you are having. Sometimes, the restriction is there so there is nothing in your system that would interfere with any contrast agents, whereas other times it’s to prevent you from becoming nauseous.  

No matter the reason, the quality of your exam or procedure depends in part on you following the instructions provided. If you don’t follow the instructions correctly, your exam might need to be rescheduled or redone.

Clear Liquid Diet – A Visual Guide

Use this visual guide to help you decide what you can and cannot drink to be best prepared for your exam or procedure:

Clear Liquid Diet: Infographic Showing Which Foods to Eat and Which to Skip

Infographic Text
Eat These Foods:
  • Water, sports drinks
  • Apple juice and other juices without pulp
  • Black coffee or tea without cream
  • Popsicles without fruit or yogurt
Skip These Foods:
  • Any solid foods
  • Broth, applesauce, or other soft foods
  • Orange juice or other juices with pulp
  • Milk and other dairy products

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