Diet 101: The Cabbage Soup Diet

This fad diet has been around for years, promising followers dramatic weight loss in seven days. But is slurping cabbage soup day after day a healthy way to lose weight?

The Plan

This diet, as the name suggests, revolves around the consumption of cabbage soup on a regular basis. For each day, there is a variation of cabbage soup to prepare with ingredients like tomatoes, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and bouillon. Here is what the one-week plan looks like:

Day 1: Several servings of cabbage soup and fruits (except bananas)

Day 2: Several servings of cabbage soup and vegetables (except starchy vegetables like beans, peas or corn)

Day 3: Several servings of cabbage soup, fruits and vegetables

Day 4: Several servings of cabbage soup, no more than eight bananas, unlimited nonfat milk

Day 5: At least one serving of cabbage soup, 10 to 20 ounces of skinless chicken or beef, no more than six tomatoes, unlimited water

Day 6: Unlimited vegetables (except starchy ones) and beef (up to several servings)

Day 7: At least one serving of cabbage soup, brown rice, vegetables and unsweetened fruit juice

The Costs

You can purchase numerous books on the Cabbage Soup Diet online, and there are several websites you can visit on the diet. Within the past three years, at least seven books were published on the diet.

The price you pay, however, is more than the cost of the book and all that cabbage. This is a very limiting diet and your palate will suffer. Eating the few allowable foods for the week can get rather boring.

Further, the diet is also limiting in the allowable food groups, compromising your overall health and nutrient intake.

The Good

Weight Loss

Not many dishes to clean, as most of the food is cooked in your soup pot

Short shopping list

The Not So Good

The diet has dangerously low calories, making it unhealthy

Lack of variation, which makes it impossible to take in all the nutrients you need to stay healthy

Does not promote lifelong healthy habits to help maintain weight loss in the long run

Does not promote exercise (although working out when eating so few calories isn’t a good idea)

The Bottom Line

This diet is not a healthy way to lose weight. Although you will probably lose weight rather quickly, you’ll gain it all back in no time. The healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is by following a well-balanced eating plan that teaches you lifelong healthy eating habits; this diet does not do that.

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Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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