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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

The Cabbage Soup Diet review

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If eating a bottomless bowl of cabbage soup, along with a few other low-calorie foods, for a solid week appeals to you, the Cabbage Soup Diet is sure to lead to quick weight loss. However, since the food choices are so limited and the calories so low, boredom and inadequate nutrition are inevitable.

There is no single Cabbage Soup diet, but multiple versions of this very restrictive diet have been circulating for years. A few books have documented different variations of this simple, anonymously written diet plan, which surprisingly has survived the test of time.

The Cabbage Soup Diet plan is not in any way personalised. There are no recommendations about exercise, no behavioural tips, no advice on changing bad habits - just a strict list of what to eat each day of the week. Meals will need to be eaten at home because these foods won't be found on most restaurant menus.

The Cabbage Soup Diet plan promises a 4.5 kg (10-pound) weight loss in one week and dieters are restricted to one week at a time on the plan. If they want to lose more, they are advised to wait a while before commencing another week on this super-low-calorie diet.

The Cabbage Soup Diet: What you can eat

The seven day Cabbage Soup Diet plan promises all you can eat - as long as you stick to the small list of allowed foods on alternate days, along with two daily bowls of fat-free cabbage soup. Other specific foods that must be eaten include fruit, vegetables, skimmed milk and meat. Dieters are also advised to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.

Here's a sample Cabbage Soup Diet plan:

  • Day 1: Cabbage soup and all the fruit you want except bananas. Drink unsweetened tea, black coffee, cranberry juice, or water.
  • Day 2: Cabbage soup, all the low-calorie vegetables you want (except beans, peas, or corn) and a baked potato with butter.
  • Day 3: Cabbage soup and a mixture of the above fruit and vegetables.
  • Day 4: Cabbage soup, up to eight bananas and two glasses of skimmed milk.
  • Day 5:  Cabbage soup, a little over half a kilogram (20 ounces) of beef, chicken or fish, up to six fresh tomatoes and at least six to eight glasses of water.
  • Day 6: Cabbage soup, up to three beef steaks and unlimited vegetables.
  • Day 7:  Cabbage soup, up to two cups of brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices and unlimited vegetables.

The recipe for the cabbage soup varies slightly among different versions of the diet. However, it generally includes cabbage and assorted low-calorie vegetables such as onions and tomatoes, and is flavoured with onion soup mix, bouillon and tomato juice.

Here's a typical recipe:

  • One packet dry onion soup mix
  • Two stock cubes, either chicken or beef
  • One celery stick (not the whole stalk), diced
  • One/two head green cabbage, diced
  • Three carrots, sliced
  • Two peppers, sliced
  • Six large spring onions, or one large yellow, white or red onion, diced
  • Two tins of tomatoes, diced or whole
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, soy sauce to taste (or any other seasoning you like)

Spray a large pot with cooking oil spray and sauté all vegetables except cabbage and tomatoes until tender. Add cabbage and about 2.9 litres of water. Toss in stock cubes, soup mix and seasonings. Cook until soup reaches desired tenderness. Add tomatoes.

Dieters beware; you may encounter some gastrointestinal discomfort from the highly sulphurous cabbage and other "windy" vegetables.

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