liquid diet for cancer patients: 101. bottom on photo includes 5 soup bowls

Liquid Diet for Cancer Patients 101 [FREE Meal Plan]

Have you been instructed to follow a clear or full liquid diet but wondering what is a liquid diet?

Numerous questions may be running through your head. I’m sure one of them is, what can I eat on a liquid diet? Or maybe you’re just looking for some ideas for a liquid diet.  

Regardless, if you’re searching for more explanation on the best liquid diet for cancer patients– you’ve come to the right place! 

This guide will explain the stages of a liquid diet, why a liquid diet may be recommended for cancer patients, and examples of foods to include on a clear and full liquid diet. Additionally, you can find a liquid diet plan for cancer patients at the end of this article!

Now, let’s clear up some confusion.

Why Would you Need a Liquid Diet?

First, why would I need to follow a liquid diet? Well, there can be a handful of reasons. 

While undergoing tests and procedures, liquid diets are encouraged by doctors. While being treated for prostate cancer, your oncologist will likely require a liquid diet at some point during treatment or testing. 

Your doctor may use the term clear liquid and full liquid diet. These are two different diet plans.

Typically, the liquid diet is prescribed the day before the procedure. Followed by NPO (nothing by mouth), the day of the procedure. 

A few procedures a liquid diet may be prescribed:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Prostatectomy
  • Brachytherapy 

Additionally, liquid diets are recommended for those undergoing GI distress for numerous reasons. A liquid diet allows your bowels and digestive system to rest while still providing hydration and some nutrition. 

In some cases, liquids are the only tolerable option. If you’re undergoing a more intense cancer treatment, it may be difficult to consume solid foods. Therefore, your oncologist may recommend sticking to a liquid diet for a few days.

“Liquid food for cancer patients” may not sounds appealing. But, this diet plan can include foods that are already part of your everyday meals.

Timeline

Clear and full liquid diets are not a long term plan.

After a procedure, you can typically consume your regular diet. For those on a liquid diet for a GI issue, your doctor will likely recommend slowly introducing solid food as tolerated. 

If you’re unable to tolerate solid food after a few days, it’s time to start introducing more nutrient dense liquid foods, which will be covered in the protein section of this article.

Clear Liquid Diet

A clear liquid diet is pretty straightforward, you can consume liquids that are clear. However, clear does not only mean water. Clear liquid foods are basically foods you can see through. 

Clear Liquid Foods:

  • Broth (chicken, vegetable, and beef) 
  • Orange or Lemon Gelatin 
  • Citrus Italian Ice or Popsicles 
  • Hard Candy
  • Black Tea
  • Black Coffee
  • Apple Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Clear Sport Drinks
  • Sprite and Ginger Ale
  • Seltzer 
  • Lemonade
  • Water
  • Ice Chips

There’s typically no limit on how much of these foods you can consume.

Full Liquid Diet

A full liquid diet can include anything liquid at room temperature. However, it does not need to be consumed at room temperature.

I would ask your doctor if red foods (cherry ice, red jello, cranberry juice) are allowed. These may want to be limited if the doctor is monitoring gastrointestinal bleeding. 

A full liquid diet includes everything from a clear liquid diet plus more.

Full Liquid Foods: 

  • Strained and blended soups without solid foods (example: blended tomato)
  • Fruit Juice/Fruit Punch
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt
  • Milk 
  • Ice Cream
  • Soda
  • Milkshake
  • Strained Cream of Wheat

Protein & Nutrients

During cancer treatment and in life, protein intake is important. It can be difficult to meet protein requirements while on a liquid diet. 

Protein is a building block in our body. During cancer treatment, protein is essential.

Yet, clear and full liquids foods will likely not meet daily vitamin and mineral needs. A high protein liquid diet for a cancer patient may sound impossible.

Luckily, supplements can help. 

Nutritional supplements can help you consume enough protein and energy while on this restrictive diet. These tend to be high protein, nutrient dense food and drinks. 

Dissolvable protein powder can also be included in a liquid diet. However, I would double check with your oncologist just to be safe.

Supplements or protein powder will help you follow a high protein liquid diet.

Not eating enough protein or receiving daily vitamins is nothing to be concerned about if you are only on a liquid diet for a few days. However, ensuring enough protein and nutrition in your diet wouldn’t hurt! 

If you are on a liquid diet for more than a few days, I’d highly recommend trying to incorporate supplements.

It’s worth noting that nutritional supplements are meant to be supplemental to your diet. In other words, continue to consume foods and drinks while also using supplements.

Clear Liquid Supplements

There are a few options on the market when it comes to clear liquid supplements. I encourage you to speak with your doctor prior to trying a new nutritional supplement.

High Protein Gelatin

Broth

Juice-like Protein Drinks

Protein Powder

Full Liquid Supplements

Creamy/Milk Based Drinks

High Protein Ice Cream and Pudding

Soups

Protein Powder

Supplement Comparison Chart

Below is a chart comparing the protein, calories, and size of common liquid nutritional supplements for cancer patients. Flavor is included to specify correct protein and calories. Most supplements offer numerous flavor options.

Supplements: Gelatein 20: 4fl oz, 8-kcal, 20g protein, flavor fruit punch. Ensure clear: 10 fl oz, 180kcal, 8g protein, blueberry pomegranate. Boost Breeze: 8 fl oz, 250kcal, 9g protein, wild berry. Premier Protein Clear: 16.9 fl oz, 90kcal, 20g protein, Tropical Punch. Magic cup: 4oz, 290kcal, 9g protein, vanilla. Boost nutritional pudding: 5oz, 230kcal, 7g protein, chocolate. Ensure complete: 10 fl oz, 350kcal, 30g protein, vanilla. Boost high protein: 8fl oz, 250kcal, 20g protein, very vanilla. Premier Protein: 11.5 fl oz, 160kcal, 30g protein, chocolate. Orgain nutritional shake: 11fl oz, 250kcal, 16g protein, sweet vanilla bean

Liquid Diet Plan for Cancer Patients

Below lists a clear liquid and full liquid diet meal plan!

Clear Liquid Diet Meal Plan

Breakfast: 1 cup Vegetable Broth, 8oz Apple Juice, Citrus Gelatin, 8oz Coffee

Lunch: 1 cup Beef Broth, 8oz Ginger Ale, Lime Gelatin, 8oz Hot Tea 

Snack: Popsicle 

Dinner: 1 cup Chicken Broth, 8oz Seltzer, 8oz Hot Tea, Lemon Italian ice

Full Liquid Diet Meal Plan

Breakfast: Strained Cream of Wheat, 8oz Cranberry Juice, 8oz Coffee, Plain Greek Yogurt

Lunch: 1 cup Beef Broth, Vanilla Ice Cream, 8oz Hot Tea, 8oz Seltzer

Snack: Vanilla Milkshake

Dinner: 1 cup Strained Tomato Soup, Chocolate Pudding, 8oz Lemonade, 8oz Hot Tea

Beyond Treatment

As stated above, a clear liquid diet and/or a full liquid diet are meant to be temporary. 

Moving forward, diet adjustments may be recommended to optimize prostate cancer treatment or reduce recurrence. 

Check out the Prostate Cancer Nutrition Blog Page for more info on the connection between food and prostate cancer.

Conclusion

Finally, cancer patients following a liquid diet have a few meal and snacks options to include.

Clear liquid and full liquid diet plans vary. Speak with your doctors regarding the proper diet for you.

Additionally, the best liquid diet for cancer patients would include protein and nutrients. Supplements can aid toward following a high protein liquid diet.

Clear liqid diet meal plan
Breakfast: 1 cup Vegetable Broth, 8oz Apple Juice, Citrus Gelatin, 8oz Coffee
Lunch: 1 cup Beef Broth, 8oz Ginger Ale, Lime Gelatin, 8oz Hot Tea 
Snack: Popsicle 
Dinner: 1 cup Chicken Broth, 8oz Seltzer, 8oz Hot Tea, Lemon Italian ice
full liquid diet meal plan
Breakfast: Strained Cream of Wheat, 8oz Cranberry Juice, 8oz Coffee, Plain Greek Yogurt
Lunch: 1 cup Beef Broth, Vanilla Ice Cream, 8oz Hot Tea, 8oz Seltzer
Snack: Vanilla Milkshake
Dinner: 1 cup Strained Tomato Soup, Chocolate Pudding, 8oz Lemonade, 8oz Hot Tea

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