There are so many different soup “diets” talked about, and people make claims of losing tons of weight and maintaining the weight loss by basically only eating soup. I’ve been asked if this is healthy, and if you truly can live off of a diet like this without missing any key nutrients and vitamins.
The Scoop on Soup:
Honestly? My first thought was, no way can you hit all of your nutritional needs by eating solely soup. But then I actually started reading up on a few of these diets, the soups they suggest for all meals, and many of them suggest different soups for fast weight loss, and then maintenance. The theory is that you are getting nutrients and electrolytes from various vegetables, proteins in the form of meats, tofu, etc., along with fiber from the veggies and grains (that you can add once you get to the maintenance phase). And you are taking in fluids, so part of your daily water intake, while you are getting your nutrition from food; their theory is that soup is “one stop shopping” for nutrition in a bowl, which it can be. But, you need to remember that just like any foods, soups can be healthy because they can be filled with vegetables and lean proteins…but they can also be really high in sodium (salt) content, have heavy fats and creams in them, and be light on vegetables.
The key to a healthy diet is getting varied vitamins and nutrients through your food, and as much as I hate to admit it, humans are creatures of habit, so if we like something (i.e. a certain food) we will tend to eat it more frequently….if you do that with this soup diet, like eating chicken soup morning for every meal, you could be missing some major parts of your diet.
You really need to make you own soups; store-bought tend to be high in sodium and fats (from butter or dairy), and if you make your own from scratch, you can control the ingredients and know exactly how healthy and fresh your ingredients are. For example, I don’t eat pre-prepared soups with meat in them, I have no idea where that meat came from, but I can pretty much guarantee that it is not antibiotic and hormone free, so in making your own soup, you will know the source of all your ingredients, which is a great feeling. We made some amazing ramen from scratch incorporating spinach, mushrooms, corn, bamboo, bean sprouts, garlic, fresh noodles, poached eggs, and non-GMO non-MSG Miso (soy paste); we hit most of our major food groups, so it was a pretty well-rounded meal, low on sodium, and literally 1/10th the fat and calories of the ramen in a package! I could eat that every day, but you need to remember to change-up your diet and the soups so that you are getting varied veggies (for different vitamins and nutrients), proteins, grains, and fruits.
It is tough to get key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D through soups, plus many of the other nutrients in the fruits and veggies can cook off when making the soups. I would get bored with eating soup three times a day (seriously, soup for breakfast too? I think putting my morning smoothie in a bowl could count as breakfast soup, right?); wouldn’t you want to just bite into a sandwich or chew on some roughage at some point? But hey, that’s just me!
If you are able to change-up your diet, learn what your nutritional needs are, meet them, and you don’t get bored, I think that it is a valid diet option for someone who might normally not eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. It is labor intensive (making soups all the time), and I would have a tough time sticking to it, but if you really love soup, and are committed to hitting all of your dietary needs by switching up your soup bases (veggies, proteins, and grains), then have at it!
Yours in Good Health