I Tried the Cabbage Soup Diet a.k.a. Your Mom’s Juice Cleanse
Before there was the juice cleanse, there was the cabbage soup diet.
The cabbage soup diet is similar to a juice cleanse in that its primary sources of sustenance include fruits, vegetables, and water. But it’s better because you can actually chew and occasionally get some protein.
The cabbage soup diet was reportedly invented in the 1950s, according to the American Dietetic Association, but the diet was re-popularized in the 80s, where it became known as the Dolly Parton Diet or the TWA Stewardess diet.
As you’d guess, the diet revolves around a big pot of cabbage soup. The soup also contains tons of vegetables and chicken stock. The seven-day diet then has certain restrictions of what you can eat on top of the cabbage soup each day.
I’m going to be real, I don’t believe in diets, especially not seven-day diets. I mean c’mon, it would take way more than a week for me to look like a Victoria’s Secret model, plus I know that no diet will do shit without a little bit of exercise on top of it, but low-calorie diets like this one make it difficult to exercise properly.
I made the soup two nights before the diet, because it takes about two hours just on the stove and ain’t nobody got time for that. I then proceeded to fill my entire fridge with various containers of soup since my soup pot doesn’t fit in my fridge. I used this recipe from cabbage-soup-diet.com, and I also used the site to know what to eat each day.
Fans of the diet talk about how cheap it is because all you’re buying is mostly veggies, so I was excited for this part of the diet if nothing else. But, when I went to Trader Joe’s and bought all my diet supplies, I still ended up spending about $60, which is more or less what I spend on normal groceries for the week.
- 2 large yellow or white onions
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves (garlic lovers: add an extra 1 or 2 cloves!)
- 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 48oz can Low Sodium V8 juice (optional)
Day 1: Cabbage soup plus any fruit except bananas.
Breakfast: Half a banana, one orange, two pineapple slices, and two watermelon slices
Lunch: Cabbage soup
Dinner: Cabbage soup
Dessert: One tangerine
I started off the diet on a bad foot. I had half a banana as I usually do before heading to the gym, only then to realize that I wasn’t supposed to eat bananas… oops. I worked out before the rest of breakfast, which consisted of about 30 minutes of Kayla Itsines leg workouts and cardio. I had gone out to a delicious pizza place last night and now was being forced to eat only fruit for breakfast, a.k.a. I’m pissed most of the day… and hungry.
Day 2: Cabbage soup and vegetables, one baked potato
I started my day today at 5:30 a.m. because I was going up to New York for the day, and I was very concerned about keeping myself satisfied for such a long day.
Breakfast: Baked potato with spinach, tomatoes, and onion
Lunch: Cabbage soup
Dinner: Two celery stalks, two carrots
Eating cabbage soup on the go is a pain. You can never make soup hot enough when cooking it in an office microwave, and plastic spoons are way too small. Not to mention that it’s very difficult to try to simultaneously eat soup and work on a laptop without making a mess. I surprisingly wasn’t that hungry until about 10, when I desperately begged my boyfriend to cook me some spinach because I was too tired to get out of my bed, isn’t that what boyfriends are for though?
Day 3: Cabbage soup, fruits, and veggies
Today I get to eat fruits and veggies, woohoo!
Breakfast: Riced cauliflower, kale, one apple
Lunch: Cabbage soup
Dinner: Kale, riced cauliflower, and a tangerine
Breakfast was fucking delicious. I felt very #blessed to have fruits and vegetables in one meal. Basically force fed myself lunch. Things got a little weird for dinner, but I always mix weird shit together, and anything is better than cabbage soup.
Day 4: Cabbage soup, bananas, and milk
Breakfast: freeze-dried bananas and almond milk
Lunch/Snack: Two bananas, dried bananas, one piece of bacon
Dinner: Cabbage soup
This is the dumbest day. Who the fuck wants to eat this many bananas? Luckily, I prepared at the grocery store and bought freeze-dried bananas and regular dried bananas. I probably wasn’t supposed to buy dried bananas because they probs had added sugar or whatever, but IDGAF.
I worked 14 hours straight today, from 9 a.m.-12 a.m., so I obviously didn’t have much time to eat. Unlike a protein bar like I would usually pack, soup isn’t exactly something I can munch on the go. Due to a broken microwave, I convinced one of the cooks to heat my soup up on the stove (they said it smelled great LOL). Oh, I also cheated and had a piece of bacon at work at some point throughout the day. Oops.
Day 5: Cabbage soup, 10-20 oz. of beef, and up to six tomatoes
Breakfast: One beef patty, half a bowl of soup
Lunch: One tomato with olive oil and basil
Dinner: One tomato with olive oil and basil, one beer, three french fries
I was beginning to worry that I was doing the diet wrong. You’re really supposed to “stuff yourself” with the soup and the veggies/fruit/whatever, but I was so sick of eating the soup that I felt like I wasn’t eating enough. I wasn’t supposed to drink, but I had a rough day and couldn’t resist having my shift drink after work with some co-workers. I also stole about three french fries off of the busboy’s plate. Sorry not sorry. I went to bed at about 9:30 this night, not sure if it’s because I was tired from work or because my body was crying for more french fries. Actually, I was really craving something sweet.
Day 6: Cabbage soup, meat, and veggies
Breakfast: Meat patty with kale and cauliflower
Lunch: Cabbage soup
Dinner: Romaine salad with broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and chicken
Today was another early day where I was going to New York, but this time I was hungry enough in the morning to down breakfast before running for the bus.
I wasn’t going to get home until around 10:30, so I stopped into a Fresh and Co. to get a salad. Technically I could’ve had steak, but I’m broke so I went for the cheaper option. It was delicious and I can’t remember the last time I was so full from a salad. I still really wanted a cookie though.
Day 7: Cabbage soup, brown rice, and veggies
Breakfast: Brown rice, spinach, kale, tomatoes, and onions
Lunch: Stir-fry veggies and brown rice
Rice was somehow not as satisfying as I thought it’d be, I still just wanted something sweet. That being said, I snuck sweet chili sauce into lunch and it was fucking delicious. For some reason I decided it was a good idea to go for a three mile run around 7:30 and planned on eating soup for dinner after. But when I got home, although I was hungry, I was legit too tired to even stand up and cook, plus I really didn’t want cabbage soup. I somehow made it without dinner and went to sleep instead, hoping I would soon wake up with the ability to eat whatever I wanted for breakfast.
It was hard to stuff myself as the diet suggested because I didn’t want to eat the food and the soup was hard to eat on the go, I def wasn’t eating enough. Maybe this is why people do juice cleanses instead of soup cleanses.
Because I only worked out for three out of seven days of the diet, I didn’t die of tiredness. Even on the days where I waitressed and was on my feet for 14 hours, I was tired, but not more tired than I would normally be after working a shift like that. There were definitely times when I felt hungry, but probably not any more hungry than I felt on the Kim Kardashian diet, and I liked that diet wayyyy better (hint: cheese was involved).
If anything felt tired, it was more my mind than my body. During the last couple days of the diet I felt like I could not write properly whatsoever and that my brain was dead.
I talked to Erin MacDonald of U Rock Girl about the benefits and disadvantages of the cabbage soup diet. Sadly, although cabbage is healthy and the soup contains lots of veggies, the cabbage soup diet is just like any other “get thin quick” scheme in that it won’t last and isn’t sustainable, specifically because it limits so many food groups. I also found out that the diet recommends that you take a multivitamin since you prob won’t be getting enough nutrients, somehow I missed this suggestion.
Erin also said that any weight lost will be water weight, which seems to be the consensus of all critics of the diet.
“Rapid weight loss can also lead to electrolyte imbalances which can put strain on the heart,” says Erin. “Beware of dizziness, lightheaded due to insufficient calorie intake. Weight will regain quickly once diet is over.”
Erin also says that the diet can make you super gassy and to beware when in public, since cabbage is a member of the brassica family which means it increases gas. I amazingly didn’t feel any more gassy than normal, but then again I’m a gassy person to begin with.
The most interesting piece of information I got from Erin was that the meal plan format apparently has no scientific reasoning. So the banana day was bullshit just like I suspected.
Erin’s bottom line was, “Even if you are trying to shed a few pounds for that upcoming family reunion or vacation, this is not the way to do it!”
But you’re all probably wondering if I actually lost weight after eating horrifically all week. The answer is a bit complicated. You see, I started the diet at 115.4 pounds. When I weighed myself on the morning of day 8 (a.k.a. the first day off the diet), I was 113.4 pounds! Woohoo! I felt so skinny and probs haven’t weighed so little since sophomore year of high school.
But as someone who knows fad diets are bull shit and watches my wrestling boyfriend gain 10 pounds in an hour after cutting weight for a week, I knew better. I ate a real-ass breakfast today, which consisted of one sunny side up egg, a slice of tomato, a brown rice cake, a beef patty, and a clementine. Then, I weighed myself afterwards. Guess what? I weighed 116, which is more than I started the diet at.
Yep. After starving myself, force-feeding myself hot soup on 90 degree days, and having sleep for dinner; I actually gained a pound. This is just further proof that both fad diets and scales are bullshit.
BTW, I still have one tupperware of soup left in my fridge, any takers?