Well-being

Cabbage Soup Diet Review

Let’s begin by me explicitly stating that I am not a fan of diets. My philosophy on food is simple – eat whole, fresh, and home cooked food as often as possible alongside a good exercise plan. Who sticks to their philosophies a 100%? Weirdos.

For me, life always gets in the way of my eating and exercise plan. 😦 Last month, my husband and I were traveling to Seville and we ate to our heart’s content – how can you refuse treats while on vacation? I also had a couple of work trips to London, which disturbed my whole Sunday meal-prep to a large degree, resulting in my ordering in and such.

Consequence? I felt bloated, nauseous, and generally not well. A colleague recommended that I try the “Cabbage Soup Diet,” which eliminates bloating, and promises a weight loss of 10lbs/4.5kgs in 7 days.

How does the cabbage soup diet work? Long story short, The Cabbage Soup Diet restricts salt, carb, and fat intake – allowing you to consume selective food groups each day of the week alongside the infamous cabbage soup.

Before I share my experience and results of following this seven-day diet, below is an overview of the recommended diet plan:

Day 1: Fruits only (no bananas) + cabbage soup

Day 2: Baked potato with light butter for breakfast + vegetables all day (no potatoes) + cabbage soup

Day 3: Vegetables and fruit all day (no bananas or potatoes) + cabbage soup

Day 4: Up to eight bananas + as much skimmed milk + cabbage soup

Day 5: Up to 20 ounces (550 grams) of beef + up to six tomatoes + cabbage soup

Day 6: As much beef and vegetables (no potatoes) + cabbage soup

Day 7: Vegetables + brown rice + cabbage soup

What I ate

I put my own spin on the cabbage soup recipe. Instead of using cabbage, I used a mix of vegetables (carrots, kale, mushrooms, celery, scallions, bell pepper, zucchini, and tomatoes). I also replaced plain water with chicken/vegetable broth to add more flavor.

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The first day was very easy. I had an apple for breakfast, soup for lunch, and a big fruit salad (melon, berries, pear) for dinner. The second day started off well (c’mon, we are talking baked potato), but lunch and dinner were mostly roasted veggies over a bed of greens with the soup. Third day, again, was good because I could eat fruit.

After that, the diet went downhill for me. The day I was supposed to mostly eat bananas was horrible. I felt stuffed and cranky, which disturbed my overall focus. Day 5 was also not great – I couldn’t fathom what to have for breakfast besides a bowl of soup, which by now I detested more than any soup in the world. I also am not a big meat eater, so I felt trapped having to eat meat for both lunch and dinner – that too without grains. Needless to say, I skipped lunch and had a fillet of salmon instead of beef for dinner. Day 6 and 7 were pretty much the same except I cheated and had a pear for breakfast on the 7th day because…I just couldn’t with the soup.

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Weight loss

This is probably the most anticipated part for most readers. Despite the tweaks I made to the diet, I lost 5.5lbs/2.5kgs in seven days. I believe most of this weight was water weight – since salt retains water in the body and this diet has zero salt (I did cheat and had some salt), so you don’t retain water. This also means that when you start consuming salt again, your body retains water, and you are heavier instantly.

A week after I resumed normal eating, I gained 1kg/2.2lbs back.

In conclusion

I cannot dictate whether or not anyone should try this diet because everyone reacts differently to different eating plans. In my experience, the diet made me aware of how often I gravitate towards overdoing salt, sugar, and oil in my meals, which is an awareness I wholeheartedly welcome. At the same time, the diet deprived me too much of critical nutrients, making me grumpy and exhausted. I also completely overturned my progress on cardio and strength training that I had made prior to going on this diet, as I couldn’t exercise for the duration of the diet – going back is always hard, going back with half as less energy is nearly impossible.

In a nutshell, there is no denying that this diet works – you just have to ask yourself if it is worth the compromise.

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Well-being

Beginning Of A Kitchen Garden

One of the many aspects I appreciate about living in Holland is the focus the country puts on nurturing your body and soul, and keeping well-being at the center of its public policy. From larger themes like reducing income disparity and promoting work-life balance, down to small programs like seeds Albert Heijn (largest grocery store chain in the Netherlands) gives out for free during springtime to encourage people to grow their own food, it is all too good to be true sometimes.

Several weeks ago, I stopped to pick up some groceries at Albert Heijn. At the checkout, I was given little cardboard containers carrying soil capsules and tiny paper bags with seeds. At first, I was overwhelmed; while, I had cared for plants before, I had never grown them from seeds.

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I returned home excited to learn how I could grow these seeds into plants. All the instructions were inside the tiny cardboard containers. I dissolved the soil capsules, filled three quarters of of the containers with soil, spread the seeds, and then topped the remaining quarter of the container with soil. At the end of this, I was thrilled but also scared about this whole program being a gimmick.

In about a week of planting the seeds and watering them regularly, little leaves started sprouting — it was not a gimmick! I felt exhilarated to realize how easy it was to grow food in my little apartment. In just one more week, the leaves were big enough that they had to be transferred to 10cm pots.

Soon, I will be transferring the cherry tomato plant to an even bigger pot. I went to the flower market in the center of Amsterdam last week and bought a huge horizontal planter and seeds for five different types of herbs. I also bought some basic tools that can help build a balcony garden — yes that is what these little plant babies of my mine have aspired me to do.

With a full time job that keeps me on my toes during the week, it has been relieving to take some time out everyday to nurture these plants. It might sound cliche, but this project helped me ground myself, and become better at following a routine. For instance, every time I watered the plants, I remembered how often I ignore when I am thirsty. That helped me improve my water intake. Similarly, seeing the plants flourish under my care gave me a confidence boost.

If you find yourself in a personal or professional rut, and your self-confidence seems to be faltering, a small garden DIY project like this one could be a fun, cheap and low maintenance pick me up.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on how to start a kitchen/balcony garden with minimal time and effort.

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