Bowled Over by the Cabbage Soup Diet

We all know someone who has tried the infamous Cabbage Soup Diet. I admit that for one misguided week back in the 1990s, 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 shortly after a return to my “normal diet.”


According to research I found on, “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.”


There’s 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 not recommended. The only time you should subsist on that few calories is when you’re under a doctor’s care or trapped miles from civilization while appearing on a survival show.


The Cabbage Soup Diet is arguably the first short-term diet to become extremely popular in the 1980s. According to a write-up on, “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 seven 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

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 sauté 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 and flavors you will need (as well as more sodium than a healthy eater should ingest).


Use about 12 cups of water (or 8 cups and the V8 juice), cover and put heat on low. Let soup cook for a minimum of two hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


If you try the Cabbage Soup Diet, please let us know about your experience. Good luck – and don’t be surprised if you lose a few friends along with a few pounds while you exist mainly on cabbage!



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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