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Liquid Diet for a Partial Small Bowel Obstruction

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Liquid Diet for a Partial Small Bowel Obstruction
You may be able to have milkshakes on your liquid diet. Photo Credit: olvas/iStock/Getty Images

A bowel obstruction is the partial or complete blockage of areas of the small intestines, preventing food and digestive liquid from moving through. A bowel obstruction is caused by either something being in the way or because the intestinal muscles are not functioning properly, according to While the management of a complete bowel obstruction requires that you not eat, a liquid diet for a partial bowel obstruction may help relieve the symptoms of your obstruction and be better tolerated than a solid diet. It is important that you consult your doctor before starting any diet when you have a bowel obstruction, partial or complete.

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Broth is a staple in the liquid diet.
Broth is a staple in the liquid diet. Photo Credit: Ockra/iStock/Getty Images

In addition to helping clear the partial obstruction, following a liquid diet when you have a partial bowel obstruction can help keep you hydrated, while also helping you meet some of your nutritional needs. The type of liquid diet you follow, as well as how long you need to follow the it, is determined by your physician.

Clear Liquid Diet

Popsicles are allowed on the liquid diet.
Popsicles are allowed on the liquid diet. Photo Credit: CharlieAJA/iStock/Getty Images

The clear liquid diet, as the name implies, consists of liquids that are clear. Liquid choices include water; clear juice, such as apple; clear soda, such as ginger ale; ice pops; fruit ice; gelatin; broth; black coffee; and black tea. Honey is also allowed on the clear liquid diet. These types of liquids are very easily digested and leave very little residue in your gastrointestinal tract. While this diet can help you stay hydrated, it is very low in calories and nutrients, and is not meant for long-term use. Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology states that a clear liquid diet should not be followed for more than 5 days.

Full Liquid Diet

Ice cream is allowed on the liquid diet.
Ice cream is allowed on the liquid diet. Photo Credit: belchonock/iStock/Getty Images

The full liquid diet includes most liquids, along with foods that turn into a liquid at room temperature. Choices include all the liquids allowed on the clear liquid diet, plus milk, milkshakes, ice cream, strained cream soups, pudding, custard, butter, margarine, oil, sugar and nutritional supplements. The full liquid diet is moderately low in calories, but more adequately meets your vitamin, mineral and protein needs than the clear liquid diet.


Surgery may be required.
Surgery may be required. Photo Credit: Images

Any changes in bowel function may indicate a complete bowel obstruction, which may require emergency surgery. If you experience constipation, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain when following your liquid diet for a partial bowel obstruction you should consult your physician immediately.

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