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Clear and Full Liquid Diet

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A clear liquid diet consists of only clear liquids at room temperature like water, fat-free broth, and gelatin all while remaining free of solid foods so that they can be easily digested and free of gas formation (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Clear liquid diets are usually prescribed for patients getting procedures done that require no solid foods to be consumed beforehand, such as a colonoscopy. Another reason this diet may be prescribed is if the patient presents with digestive problems like having diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Lastly, this diet may be prescribed for patients after surgery especially if they are coming off of anesthesia and their digestive tract is unable to tolerate solid foods yet.

Clear liquid diets help patients maintain hydration all while providing enough electrolytes and carbohydrates for the body to function however, it does not provide enough calories and nutrients needed for long term use (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Consequently, these diets are usually only recommended for patients for a limited time. Some foods that are allowed on a clear liquid diet include water, fruit juices without pulp, tea, coffee, vegetable juice, honey, hard candies, ice chips, carbonated drinks, and sport drinks (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Some foods that must be excluded from a clear liquid diets include milk, popsicles with fruit pieces, fruit juices with pulp, and any sort of solid food (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Furthermore, occasional red colored gelatins should be avoided since it can stain and create inaccurate test results.

It is important for patients to follow a clear liquid diet when ordered by their primary care physician. The most important teaching to provide to patients is to follow the regimen to avoid any preventable complications and delays in their treatment plans.

A full liquid diet is similar to a clear liquid diet however a greater variety of options exists, providing the patient with an adequate amount of energy and nutrients (MedlinePlus, 2018). The full liquid diet is designed for patients who are unable to chew, swallow, or digest solid foods. Full liquid diets can be prescribed before procedures and surgeries just like the clear liquid diet. It may also be recommended for patients in postoperative recovery, intolerance of solid foods from not being able to swallow or chew, and acute gastritis (MedlinePlus, 2018). Lastly, this diet may be ordered after a clear liquid diet to slowly introduce patients back to a regular diet.

Again, like clear liquid diets, patients on a full liquid diet must remain free of eating solid foods. However, they are able to consume a wider variety of liquids like milk, soups, ice cream, sherbet, milkshakes, pudding, butter, and refined or strained cereals (MedlinePlus, 2018). As long as the food is a liquid at room temperature it will fine for the patient to consume. Foods that must be avoided on this diet include cheese, whole fruits, meats, cereals not confirmed with the doctor, raw or cooked vegetables, and mashed foods like potatoes (MedlinePlus, 2018). Full liquid diets may be contraindicated for some patients like those with dysphagia unless the liquids are thickened to prevent aspiration. Also, this diet may be contraindicated for patients who are lactose intolerant or have hypercholesterolemia since the diet can be high in fat and lactose (MedlinePlus, 2018).

The benefits of a full liquid diet are that it can provide enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats, but it may not provide enough fiber and minerals so supplements may be needed. Therefore, full liquid diets are usually not prescribed for long term use as well.

Important nursing interventions for both clear liquid diet and full liquid diet are to educate the patients on the importance of following these diets and making sure they know exactly which foods they may consume and which foods to avoid. It will also be important to teach patients to report any adverse effects they may be feeling such as nausea, increased hunger and increased appetite. It is important to educate patients that diets such as these will only be prescribed for a limited time, therefore it is crucial to adhere to the prescription.

It is vital to take into consideration a patient’s cultural differences and preferences while on both a clear liquid diet or full liquid diet. For example, some patients may be lactose intolerant so careful considerations will need to be taken for these patients especially on a full liquid diet since many dairy products will be used to increase carbohydrates, fats, and protein content. Also, some religions prohibit certain foods like pork which can be found in certain gelatins so making sure that pork is not an active ingredient is a fundamental nursing intervention. Another cultural situation to consider is that some patients are prohibited to drink caffeinated beverages such as coffees, teas, and sodas therefore, paying attention to these specific cultural preferences while on these diets is necessary.

It is also important to follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which states that physiological needs come before psychological needs which in this case would be categorized as nutrition. Another nursing intervention would be to ask patients about their preferences of foods are so that they have a variety of options to help them follow their diets while encouraging an adequate intake of liquids.

As nurses, monitor patients on these diets is essential so taking daily weights, observing and documenting their nutritional intake and continuously assessing their bowel functions is a priority. For example, clear liquid diets are generally started for patients after a major surgery to help with their bowel movements which is then followed by a full liquid diet and eventually a regular diet. Generally, a patient is assessed for bowel function by auscultation of bowel sounds and assessment to determine their ability to pass gas in order to advance their diet.

In conclusion, it will be important to teach patients what the diet is, what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid all while considering their preferences, religion, and medical situation.

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