Cabbage Soup For Christmas? Article
Item# CabbageSoupXmas

Cabbage Soup for Christmas?
By: Allan N. Spreen, MD, The Nutrition Physician

Cabbage Soup For Christmas?!

Don't panic...just kidding, folks. We're not trying to replace the conventional turkey.

Last year we talked about a diet that I still don't fully understand in terms of efficacy for losing weight. It's called the Cabbage Soup Diet, and I had nothing to do with its origination. In fact, it was shown to me by someone who had a copy from a friend who had heard of it from a know the rest. It can now be found on the internet in several places as public domain information. I've included a copy below, and I've seen this one work, but I can't say whether it's exactly the same as the long-ago original.

The only original information I had was that it was derived by Sacred Hearts Hospital for their cardiac patients as a weight loss routine prior to cardiac surgery. As heart patients in need of surgery tend not to be the world's healthiest, it seemed like such a plan might not be that dangerous if a major hospital was using it (as directed and under supervision). I had several highly satisfied users (not heart patients) tell me how wonderful the plan was. Some said that they didn't mind being bored by the plan (and boring it is) for 7 days (it's a 7 day plan only), if they can eat as they please the rest of the time. I'm not in favor of such a philosophy, as it rarely promotes healthy eating of proper nutrient-dense foods, but I could certainly see where some of these people were coming from.

So, I had a few people try it. The deal is you do the plan exactly as described, on a daily basis, for one week. There are different foods allowed each day, some with limit, some without. The one constant for each day is that, if you end up hungry, there is no limit to how much cabbage soup you can eat. You use the diet's recipe, make a bunch up in advance, and even take it with you if you need to. Theoretically, if you don't mind the boredom then you wouldn't be hungry because you always have access to something that's allowed on the plan.

I couldn't believe the results. Those who could tolerate the strict routine (some couldn't) lost more weight in a week, it seemed to me, than if they had eaten nothing at all. My brother-in-law lost over 11 pounds in 7 days and was never hungry. If you're allergic to cabbage then I guess this isn't for you.

I'm not particularly recommending this plan, but it's pretty well established that the state of obesity is a higher risk one than ideal weight. If someone determined that heart patients did better when they were carrying less weight prior to major surgery it seemed rational that other overweight individuals might also benefit. As long as it's not a license to cheat with cake and cookies for three meals a day the rest of the time I'm not against it. The foods it contains are certainly superior to the average American junk food routine, as it removes lots of sugar and white flour, bearing in mind that the cranberry juice mentioned implies without sugar, which is hard to find (and harder to drink!).

Bear in mind that the instructions are very specific that malnutrition can occur over extended periods of time and that for that reason this is a seven-day routine only. I agree. If in fact you decide to try it, go over the routine with your doc and have him both okay it and monitor you.

As a point of interest I had a few people try the exact same routine using French onion soup instead of cabbage soup (minus the cheese and crouton, of course). They also lost weight, as a rule, though less pounds.

For those who are highly overweight, really need to lose, and just can't find any way that works this might be something to consider from time to time. I prefer it to drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription. Whatever you do to lose weight, remember that it's important to learn how to eat once you finish whatever routine you've used, or rebound 'yo-yo' dieting can be the result. Learn about nutrient dense whole foods, which are usually higher in low-calorie bulk than refined (not to mention just plain better for you), and eat as fresh and natural as possible.

Good Health,
Allan N. Spreen, MD
The Nutrition PhysicianŽ

(NOTE: For this diet to work it is important to follow the instructions to the letter.)

Cabbage Soup Recipe:
6 large green onions
2 green peppers
1 large head cabbage
1 bunch celery
1 or 2 cans tomatoes
1 pkg. Lipton soup mix
Season with salt, pepper, parsley, bouillon or hot sauce if desired.

Cut vegetables in small pieces. In large pot, add vegetables and soup mix, cover with water. Boil rapidly for ten minutes. Cut to simmer and cook until vegetables are tender. This soup can be eaten anytime you are hungry.

EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, WHENEVER YOU WANT. The soup will add no calories. Fill a thermos in the morning if you will be away during the day.


DAY ONE: All fruits except bananas. Cantaloupe and watermelon are lower in calories than most fruits. Eat only the soup and fruits. For drinks - unsweetened tea, cranberry juice or water.

DAY TWO: All vegetables. Eat until you are stuffed with all fresh, raw or canned vegetables. Try to eat green leafy veggies and stay away from dry beans, peas, and corn. Also eat the soup. At dinner time on this day, reward yourself with a big baked potato and butter. Do not eat any fruits.

DAY THREE: Eat all the soup, fruits and vegetables you want. Do not have a baked potato! If you have eaten for three days, as above, and have not cheated, you will find you have lost 5-7 pounds.

DAY FOUR: Bananas and skim milk. Eat as many as three bananas and drink as many glasses of water as you can on this day along with the soup. Bananas are high in calories and carbohydrates and so is the milk, but on this particular day your body will need potassium and carbohydrates, protein and calcium, to lessen your craving for sweets.

DAY FIVE: Beef and tomatoes. You may have 10-20 ounces of beef and a can of tomatoes or as many as 6 fresh tomatoes on this day. Try to drink 6-8 glasses of water to wash away the uric acid in your body. Eat the soup at at least once today.

DAY SIX: Beef and veggies. Eat to your heart's content of the beef and veggies today. You can have two or three steaks if you like with leafy green vegetables, but no baked potato. Be sure and eat the soup once today.

DAY SEVEN: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice and vegetables. Consume as much as you want. Eat the soup at least once.

This seven day eating plan can be used as often as you like. If correctly followed it is said to clean your system of impurities and give you a feeling of well being as never before. Consider a week between tries to avoid boredom.

This diet is fast, fat burning and the secret is that you will burn more calories than you take in. It will flush your system of impurities and give you a feeling of well being. This diet does not lend itself to drinking any alcoholic beverages at any time because of the removal of fat built up in your system. Go off the diet for at least 24 hours before any intake of alcohol.

Because everyone's digestive system is different, this diet will affect every one differently. After day three, you should have more energy than when you began if you did not cheat. If after being on the diet for several days you find your bowel movements have changed, eat a cup of bran or fiber. Although you can have black coffee with this diet you may find you don't need caffeine after the third day.

DEFINITE "NO-NO'S": Bread, alcohol, carbonated drinks, including diet drinks. Stick with water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, unsweetened fruit juices, cranberry juice, and skimmed milk. No fried foods or bread.

The Cabbage Soup can be eaten anytime you feel hungry. Eat as much as you wish. You can eat broiled or baked chicken instead of meat (absolutely no skin on the chicken). If you prefer, you can substitute broiled fish for beef on only one of the beef days. You need high protein from the beef the other day.

Prescribed medication will not hurt you on this diet.


Dr. Spreen is a nutritionally-oriented medical doctor in practice for over a decade before concentrating on nutritional writing. He is known for his original "Nutrition Physician" on-line sites for both America Online and iVillage's 'The Women's Network', offering nutrition information directly to the public.

His authored works include Nutritionally Incorrect-Why the American Diet is Dangerous & How to Defend Yourself (Woodland); Smart Medicine for Healthier Living (Avery), co-authored with Janet Zand and James LaValle: and The Menopause Diet (Woodland).

A graduate of both the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee before obtaining his M.D. from East Tennessee State University, Dr. Spreen wears a second hat as a coach of competitive divers at the national and Olympic levels.

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