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Nutrition and Cancer: Clear Liquids and Full Liquids

You may have some side effects during your cancer treatment, such as nausea or diarrhea. To help you deal with the side effects, you may need to limit your diet for short amounts of time. You will still need to drink fluids for nourishment, to quench your thirst, or to settle your stomach. There are 2 general types of liquids: clear and full. Don't limit yourself to liquids unless your healthcare providers tell you to do so.

Clear liquids

Clear liquids may be very helpful if you have these side effects:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

In general, clear liquids are liquids that are easy to see through and pour. A clear liquid diet does not provide enough nutrition. So for this reason, it should be followed only for a short time to help control your symptoms from side effects of treatment. If you are having symptoms that will not allow you to eat or drink anything more than clear liquids, talk with your healthcare provider. 

Clear liquids include:

  • Water

  • Clear, fat-free broth

  • Clear carbonated drinks

  • Apple, cranberry, or grape juice

  • Flavored water

  • Fruit ices without fruit pieces or milk

  • Fruit-flavored drinks

  • Fruit punch

  • Hard candy

  • Honey

  • Jelly

  • Gelatin

  • Ice pops

  • Sports drinks

  • Tea

  • Clear nutritional drinks

Full liquids

Full liquids have more calories, protein, and nutrients than clear liquids. They can help meet your daily calorie and protein requirements. They are especially useful if you have a loss of appetite, vomiting, or weight loss. Full liquids include those that are easy to pour or can be sucked through a straw. Some liquids are considered both clear and full.  

Full liquids include:

  • 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

  • Liquid meal replacements

  • Clear nutrition drinks 

Ask your healthcare provider if refined cooked cereals, such as oatmeal and grits, are allowed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. 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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