How to Safely Keep a Liquid Diet

A liquid diet is commonly consumed before and after surgery or when you want to lose weight. Be careful to make sure you still get the right amount of nutrition.

A liquid diet is a diet that consists solely of foods that are in liquid state at room temperature or traditional liquid sources of nutrition while excluding any solid foods. Foods consumed during a liquid diet may include items like tea, juices, soups, ice cream, milkshakes, popsicles, pudding or Jell-O. People using this diet plan typically strive to consume around 45 grams of protein and 1350-1500 total calories throughout the day.

It is possible to get the nutrition you need while consuming a liquid diet and you can continue to use this diet for long periods of time. However, your doctor may recommend different supplements or vitamins to help ensure that you are getting the nutrition you need. The idea is not to restrict your calories as much as it is to alter the way your body processes food. Liquid diets are easier on your digestion system than solid foods while still providing you with nutrition you need to keep your energy up.

Why Do We Need a Liquid Diet?

Some medical procedures require people to go on a liquid diet beforehand. Surgeries will commonly require this of their patients, particularly if the procedure will take place around the abdominal area. You may also require a liquid diet after a surgical procedure on the intestines or your stomach to help ensure that you heal properly. Those that have difficulty chewing or swallowing properly may need to restrict your diet to liquid sources of nutrition. Some liquid diets are designed to help people lose weight more effectively. These diets may have more restrictions regarding which foods you should eat than those used to minimize stress on the digestive system.

What Can We Eat and Drink for a Liquid Diet?

  • People are encouraged to drink plenty of water, tea, milk, coffee with sugar or honey, sodas or fruit juices. Fruit juice that contains pulp or nectar is acceptable.
  • Frozen items like frozen yogurt, sherbet, plain ice cream, popsicles or fruit ices can also be consumed on a liquid diet.
  • Heavier foods like pudding, custard, butter, oils or margarine may also be consumed. Those that are trying to lose weight may need to limit their intake of these foods.
  • Gelatin or soup broths can also be consumed. Soups that contain pureed potatoes are acceptable, but soups with solid ingredients should be avoided.
  • You may also eat refined cereals like oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, cream of rice or farina if they have been cooked. Other cereals should be avoided.
  • Strained meats such as those found in baby food can be consumed, but you should not consume any solid meats.

Ideally, you should include a combination of 5-7 liquid food sources in each meal while taking part in a liquid diet. If you are planning on being on a liquid diet for a long period of time you may need to talk with your doctor about items you can add to your diet to help you avoid losing too much weight. Strained meats, butter, margarine or nonfat dairy milk can be added to your foods to help increase your calorie intake. You can also add flavored syrup or sugar to your beverages for a quick calorie boost. Some also find that adding instant breakfast powder to pudding, milkshakes, custard or plain milk can help increase your calorie count without adding unhealthy ingredients to your diet.

Foods to Avoid

Raw or cooked vegetables and any types of cheeses should not be included. Foods like avocado or potatoes that have been mashed do not count for a liquid diet. Any puddings or ice cream that contains chunks or solid ingredients like nuts or chocolate chips should be avoided.

How Safe Is a Liquid Diet?

If you are going to consume a liquid diet you will need to make sure you are still getting a good balance of nutrients throughout the day. If you are taking part in an extreme low calorie diet that limits you to 400-800 calories a day, there is a good chance you are not getting the nutrients you need. Only participate under these types of diets and under direct medical supervision. If you are not getting the nutrients you need, you may wind up experiencing an electrolyte imbalance, gallstones, dizziness, hair loss, fatigue, cold intolerance, dizziness or heart damage.

In particular you need to make sure you get enough fiber in your diet. Otherwise you can wind up suffering from digestive ailments like constipation. A lack of protein can cause you to lose too much lean body mass.

How to Eat a Liquid Diet Safely

Before getting involved with a liquid diet you should talk to your doctor to make sure that it will work with your body. Those that are pregnant, nursing or are trying to manage insulin-dependent diabetes should not try to undergo any kind of liquid diet.

Get enough nutrition: If your doctor thinks it will be safe for you to attempt a liquid diet, consider working with a dietician to make sure the diet you undertake will have the right amount of nutrition and calories to keep you healthy. These professionals can also recommend any supplements or vitamins that will help make sure that you are not missing out on key portions of your diet.

Read ingredients: Those planning on using commercial products designed for use in liquid diets should read the ingredients first. This will help you avoid unwanted ingredients while making sure that you will be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. You may find that you need to add other food sources along with these dieting products to keep you healthy.

Get back to solid diet gradually: Once you are ready to transition back to solid foods you will need to be careful not to gain all of the weight back. Select a diet that is still low in calories so you can continue to manage your weight loss during this transition period. You can choose a liquid diet that has 1-2 meals of solid foods during the day as part of the transition period as well. This will help you learn healthy eating habits that will make it easier to keep your weight down.


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