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Weekly Diet News Digest

by John McGran, Columnist

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by John McGran
Diet.com Contributor

We all know someone who has tried the Cabbage Soup Diet. I admit it... for one misguided week back in the ‘90s, I was a cabbage soup slurper. Before tiring of the soup’s taste " and the pungent aroma that wafted from my opened fridge where the soup cauldron lurked" I did manage to lose a few pounds quickly.

But just like with other fad or trendy diets, my lost pounds found their way back not long after a return to my “normal diet.”

According to research I found on WebMD.com, “The Cabbage Soup Diet is essentially a modified fast, containing so few calories that dieters will lose weight rapidly during the weeklong regimen. There is nothing magical about cabbage or cabbage soup that fosters weight loss. It's the low-calorie nature of the diet plan that does the trick.

“The diet makes no scientific claims on how it works. While several versions exist, common to all is the premise that if you eat lots of cabbage soup when you're hungry, it will keep you satisfied enough to sustain this very low-calorie diet for a week.

“Dieters may very well lose the promised 10-15 pounds, but the problem is that most of the weight lost will be primarily from fluids, not fat, and will return once the dieter resumes eating normally.”

More bad news

The yo-yo dieting effect is the least of your worries. If you’re filling up on a soup that consists mainly of cabbage and veggies, you’ll most likely fail to take in a healthy amount of calories and nutrients.

Eating fewer than 1,200 calories per day is just not safe. The only time you should subsist on that few calories is when you’re a) under a doctor’s care or b) trapped miles from civilization with Survivorman.

The Cabbage Soup Diet is arguably the first short-term diet to become extremely popular in the 1980s. According to a write-up on Wikipedia.com, “the cabbage soup diet has had many names, usually linking the diet to a mainstream institution, including the Sacred Heart Diet, Military Cabbage Soup, TJ Miracle Soup Diet, and Russian Peasant Diet. All of the institutions named have denied a link with the diet.”

Critics, like fans, are many.

But if you choose to give it a whirl (and we’re offering the recipe for one version below), be aware that you could feel weak and lightheaded during the “diet.” You very well may also experience flatulence (Beano anyone?) and nausea (have you ever inhaled the scent of cooked cabbage for 7 days straight?).

On the positive side: The soup makes a good low-calorie filler meal. Newer versions of the Cabbage Soup Diet even add protein to the diet plan while decreasing sodium.

Ready to get cookin’?

Cabbage Soup Recipe
6 large green onions
2 green peppers
1 or 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)
3 carrots
1 container (10 oz. or so) mushrooms
1 bunch of celery
Half a head of cabbage
1 package Lipton soup mix
1 or 2 cubes of bouillon (optional)
1 48oz. can V8 juice (optional)
Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, curry, garlic powder, etc.

Directions: Slice green onions, put in a pot and start to saute with cooking spray. Cut green pepper stem end off and cut in half, take the seeds and membrane out. Cut the green pepper into bite size pieces and add to pot. Take the outer leaf layers off the cabbage, cut into bite size pieces, add to pot. Clean carrots, cut into bite-size pieces, and add to pot. Slice mushrooms into thick slices, add to pot. If you would like a spicy soup, add a small amount of curry or cayenne pepper now.

NOTE: You can use beef or chicken bouillon cubes for seasonings. These have all the salt ...    Continue

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@ 12:04am ET on March 4, 2008
Thanks for posting, can't say I'll try it though since I dont like cabbage!

@ 1:32am ET on March 4, 2008
Oh yes! I remember this diet. My grandmother and I tried it as a lark one summer. She wanted to lose about 6 lbs, and I was not yet worrying that much about my weight. The gal she got the recipe from lost about 15 lbs. Gran lost about 1 lbs and I lost 3 lbs. My parents were furious that my grandmother let me do something so stupid!.

@ 8:24am ET on March 4, 2008
My wife trots it out every now and then. I had one experience 15 years ago and that's enough for me!

@ 6:20pm ET on January 30, 2009
I have done incorporated this Cabbage Soup Diet into my weight loss program...I at the soup for dinner and Supper....but I also would add chicken to the diet...Its very very filling and the weight I wanted to lose..I lost.

@ 9:31am ET on February 23, 2009
I recall my mother and aunts trying this diet. I used it too and it worked for a few days. My mother and I even tried an orange juice and skim milk diet where you drank a quart of each a day--nothing else to eat. You could have diet sodas and water. It worked, of course, like the cabbage soup--we were fasting and had diarrhea, so we lost 'weight'. Then again I'm planning to try something similar again. I recall being told to vary calories from day to day so your body doesn't go into 'starvation' mode.

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