What’s the Deal with Souping?

Diet and detox trends come and go, but always garner loads of attention for their “quick fix” claims of helping you shed pounds fast. But what I always tell my patients, and everyone else I know, is that the keys to good health and longevity, always have and always will, involve a nutritious diet filled with super-food fruits and veggies that contain vitamins, antioxidants, healthy sugars and fiber.

So, as I’m hearing more and more folks ask about the new-new that’s giving juicing a run for its money—souping—I knew I had to weigh in.

What is souping?

Souping gained popularity over the last few years as a cleanse that involves consuming nothing but soup for several days a time. Most plans encourage you to consume five servings a day and don’t hold any limits on your portion size or how much soup you can consume in each sitting. The whole concept revolves around the fact that you’re filling your body with mostly water, in addition to some wholesome ingredients, namely vegetables and proteins. In essence, you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs without over-doing it on meaningless, or empty, calories.

Is souping good for you?

Soup has been a culinary staple of nearly every culture and cuisine since ancient times. It’s easy to make, has no set ingredient list and hardly has a seasonality, making it ideal for all budgets, all environments and all palates. Because soups are often vegetable- or broth-based, and contain lean sources of protein and produce, they’re known to keep you more satisfied and feeling full longer than denser meals that contain less nutrients. In fact, studies have shown that consuming soup is a healthy and effective strategy for weight loss. The idea is that, by eating soup for every meal, you take in less calories, while simultaneously filling up your body with vitamins and minerals.

How does it differ from juicing?

Juicing involves drinking merely fruit and vegetable juice with the goal of losing weight and detoxing the body. The crappy part is that it’s often plagued by feelings of energy depletion and total exhaustion, because all you’re consuming is fruit- or veggie juice and water. Sounds awful—I agree. Souping, on the other hand doesn’t remove the fiber, or the more textural parts of fruits and vegetables, such as the skin. Fiber is what keeps us feeling full for longer and also aids in digestion. In addition, souping does not limit the use of legumes, like beans and lentils, which are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. They’re also satisfying and filling, so you’re less likely to go for seconds and thirds the way you might with a slice of pizza.

The bottom line

Soup, as a dish on its own, is an excellent meal choice, especially when prepared without the use of heavy creams or milk and when served in an actual bowl and not a gluten-heavy bread bowl. I never condone diets or detoxes that encourage slicing your daily dose of calories lower than the healthy, recommended amount for your weight and requirements. When weight loss is the result of starving yourself, it’s incredibly dangerous. Without the proper nutrients your body needs to function at its peak and maintain energy levels and body mass, you’re accomplishing the complete opposite goals— certainly not achieving a healthy bod.

Certainly go ahead and add more soups to your meal plan—especially ones that contain cold- and viral-fighting ingredients. Homemade chicken soup is one of my favorites. It contains a natural decongestant that breaks up mucus and it has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can help ease cold symptoms and soothe your aches and discomfort. The best part? You can add whatever you want to any basic homemade recipe. In our house, we add turmeric or ginger!