Clear Liquid Diet for Diabetics

If you're scheduled to have surgery, recovering from surgery or if you are having digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting, your doctor may recommend you follow a clear liquid diet. The clear liquid diet consists of foods that are easy to digest and leave very little residue in your gastrointestinal tract. It is a very low-calorie diet and is not meant to be followed for more than a few days. The clear liquid diet primarily consists of foods high in sugar, such as juice and gelatin, and diabetics may be concerned about how they can manage blood sugars on the diet.

Concentrated sweets like gelatin are allowed on the diabetic clear liquid diet. (Image: Antonio Balaguer soler/Hemera/Getty Images)


The purpose of the clear liquid diet is to provide hydration and electrolytes while limiting the amount of food in your stomach and small intestines. It also provides some calories and energy during the short period of time when you cannot eat a regular diet. The clear liquid diet is most commonly recommended before a procedure or test that requires you to have no food in your stomach or digestive tract, such as a colonoscopy.

Carbohydrates and Sugar

Historically, people with diabetes used to have to stay away from sugar to manage their diabetes and blood sugars. But it's not just sugar in food that affects blood sugar. All foods with carbohydrates, including starches, fruit, milk and sweets, raise blood sugar. While the type of carbohydrate you eat does affect how rapidly your blood sugar rises, it is the total carbohydrate consumed that has the greatest impact. Controlling the amount of carbohydrate you eat at each meal -- no matter what the source -- can help you manage your blood sugar. However, it is important to note that foods high in sugar tend to be high in calories and fat, and offer very little nutritional value. So while it is acceptable to eat sugar as a diabetic, these foods in general should not replace your more nutritious food choices when following your usual regular diet.

Food Choices

The clear liquid diet consists of liquids that are clear at room temperature. Many of the foods offered on the clear liquid diet are concentrated sweets, such as clear soda, clear juice such as apple or cranberry, gelatin, ice pops and honey. Other food choices include water, broth, coffee and tea.

Diabetes and Clear Liquid Diet

When following a clear liquid diet, the American Diabetes Association recommends you consume 200 g of carbohydrates throughout the day, evenly distributed between meals and snacks. While you may be conditioned to drink diet soda and eat diet gelatin, when following the clear liquid diet you need to include the regular versions of these foods to meet your daily carbohydrate needs. In general, 1/2 cup serving of clear soda, juice or gelatin contains 15 g of carbohydrates.

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