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Nutrition and Cancer: Clear Liquids and Full Liquids

What are clear liquids and full liquids?

If you experience nutritional side effects during your cancer treatment, you will need to consider the different kinds of liquids that you may use for nourishment, to quench your thirst, or settle your stomach. Clear liquids are helpful for many of the side effects of cancer. Generally speaking, clear liquids are liquids that are easy to see through and to pour. A clear liquid diet is not nutritionally adequate and should only be followed for a short time to help control symptoms from cancer treatment side effects. If you are experiencing symptoms that will not allow you to consume anything more than clear liquids, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian for recommendations. Full liquids have more calories, protein, and nutrients so they can be used to help meet your daily calorie and protein requirements. Full liquids include those that are easy to pour and/or can be sucked through a straw. Some liquids are considered both clear and full.

The National Cancer Institute provides the following list of clear liquids:

  • Bouillon

  • Clear, fat-free broth

  • Clear carbonated beverages

  • Consommé

  • Apple cranberry, or grape juice

  • Flavored water

  • Fruit ices without fruit pieces or milk

  • Fruit-flavored drinks

  • Fruit punch

  • Hard candy

  • Honey

  • Jelly

  • Gelatin

  • Popsicles

  • Sports drinks

  • Tea

  • Water

  • Clear nutritional supplements (such as Resource Breeze, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Enlive!)

Full liquids include the following:

  • Refined hot cereals (such as Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, instant oatmeal, and grits) 

  • Bouillon

  • Broth

  • Soup that has been strained or put through a blender

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Coffee

  • Fruit drinks

  • Fruit punch

  • Milk

  • Milkshakes

  • Smoothies

  • Sports drinks

  • Tea

  • Tomato juice

  • Vegetable juice

  • Water

  • Custard (soft or baked)

  • Frozen yogurt

  • Fruit purees that are watered down

  • Gelatin

  • Honey

  • Ice cream with no chunks (such as nuts or cookie pieces)

  • Ice milk

  • Jelly

  • Pudding

  • Sherbet

  • Sorbet

  • Syrup

  • Yogurt (plain or vanilla)

  • Instant breakfast drinks (such as Carnation Instant Breakfast)

  • Liquid meal replacements (such as Ensure and Boost)

  • Clear nutrition supplements (such as Resource Breeze, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Enlive!) 

Nutrition and Cancer: Clear Liquids and Full Liquids - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Piccolo, Amanda, RD
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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