Nutrition and Cancer: Clear Liquids and Full Liquids

You may have some side effects during your cancer treatment, such as loss of appetite. To help you deal with the side effects, you may need to take different kinds of liquids for different reasons. You will need to drink fluids for nourishment, to quench your thirst, or to settle your stomach. There are two general types of liquids: clear and full.

Clear liquids

Clear liquids are helpful for many of the side effects of cancer. They may be very helpful if you have these side effects:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

In general, clear liquids are liquids that are easy to see through and pour. A clear liquid diet does not provide enough nutrition. For this reason, it should only be followed for a short time to help control your symptoms from side effects of the 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:

  • 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 drinks (such as Resource Breeze, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Enlive!)

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 and/or can be sucked through a straw. Some liquids are considered both clear and full.  

Full liquids include:

  • 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 drinks (such as Resource Breeze, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Enlive!) 

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