What Is A Full Liquid Diet and When Is It Used?

One Step On The Way From A Liquid Diet To Solid Food Is A Full Liquid Diet

Ice Cream
One great choice allowed on the full liquid diet is ice cream. But it has to be plain, with no toppings. Image © Cultura RM/ Diana Miller Cultura / Getty Images

What Is A Full Liquid Diet?

A full liquid diet is one that is made up of liquids, but unlike a regular liquid diet, it's one that includes milk products and some more types of juices and soups. Usually a full liquid diet is a stepping-stone between a clear liquid diet and a low-fiber diet or a regular, full diet. On a full liquid diet, the goal is about 1500 calories and 45 grams of protein, and while this may make a person feel like they're getting enough to eat, this diet won't contain enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals to be used long-term.

When Is A Full Liquid Diet Used?

Many times, after having surgery, or when recovering in the hospital from a flare-up or a procedure, the first foods given are on the clear liquid diet. When a patient does well on the liquid diet for a period of time, the next step is usually a full liquid diet. After the full liquid diet is started, there is more waiting to see how that is tolerated before moving on to solid foods, 

What's The Difference Between A Liquid Diet and A Full Liquid Diet?

A full liquid diet has a greater range of items than a clear liquid diet, yet is still fairly restricted. This diet may be used as a transition between clear liquids to solid food after surgery or when recovering from an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-up. One of the biggest differences between the clear liquid and the full liquid diet is that milk products and citrus and vegetable juices are allowed on the full liquid diet.

Juices and broths allowed on the clear liquid diet need to be clear, so the choices are more limited. Tea and coffee are still allowed, as they are on the full liquid diet, but milk or cream could be added.

What If You're Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the sugar in cow's milk.

It's very common in adults, and symptoms can be very mild in some people and more severe in others. For those that are lactose intolerant, there are many choices for the full liquid diet that don't include cow's milk products. Rice milk and soy milk products will be allowed on the full liquid diet, so there could be variety while still staying away from cows' milk. 

Foods Allowed On The Full Liquid Diet

  • Everything on the clear liquid diet
  • Cream
  • Ice cream
  • Italian ice
  • Fruit juices
  • Milk
  • Puddings
  • Cooked refined cereals
  • Strained soups
  • Vegetable juices

Foods Omitted On The Full Liquid Diet

  • Breads
  • Cheese
  • Fruits
  • Meats
  • Vegetables

The Bottom Line

Just like the clear liquid diet and the restricted fiber diet, the full liquid diet is not meant to be followed long-term. It's only to be used in special situation, such as after surgery, and only under the care of a physician. Even though more foods are allowed than on the clear liquid diet, this diet is still not one that is going to be healthful on a long-term basis.

A full liquid diet won't allow for the variety of foods that are needed for a person to take in all the nutrients and fiber that are needed on a daily basis.

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