Low calorie soup is making a comeback these days. Whether it’s a no calorie soup diet, the best fat burning soup, or a heart healthy cabbage soup recipe, everyone seems to be talking about tasty soups for weight loss. So is soup the newest superfood? And can eating soup actually help you lose weight?
You might be surprised to learn that low calorie soup can actually contribute to weight control. There is actual science to back this up, so it’s not just a diet fad. But you can’t just eat any old soup and expect to lose weight. There are specific types of soup that will help you control your weight. And you have to eat them at the right time. Even if you’re already eating soup for weight loss, you may not be getting the benefits. You could be eating the wrong kind of soup, or maybe the right soup at the wrong time.
Read on to learn the evidence-based way to low calorie soup can help you lose weight. Done right, eating soup can be an effective strategy for weight loss programs that really work.
What Happened to Soup as a First Course?
When I was in high school, I remember the school cafeteria serving really massive lunches. They always started with a bowl of soup. It wasn’t anything fancy. No cream or cheese. And usually there wasn’t even any meat. It was just a thin broth with some diced vegetables added. But this small portion of vegetable soup was so welcome, especially in the colder months of the year. It made me feel warm inside and, despite seeming insubstantial, it really helped to fill me up.
Later when I worked in a hospital, I always ate at the cafeteria whenever I was on duty. There too, every meal began with soup. Though I tended to favour the creamy soups, there was also a thinner vegetable soup on offer at every meal. Again, never a very large portion. It was always just enough soup to give you a taste. Serving soup was a way to prime your body for digesting the rest of the meal.
I never really got into the habit of eating that bowl of soup before a meal at home, though. And that’s one thing I wish I could go back and change. There’s just something that seems right about eating soup before the main course. It makes the meal feel somehow more civilized. And it turns out that eating low calorie soup at the beginning of your dinner offers health benefits too. Science now shows eating a soup course can help you eat less during the rest of the meal.
Do North Americans Eat Low Calorie Soup?
Sometimes I feel like “soup” is just an ingredient we add to a crock pot recipe. And that may be true. Statistics collected for soup manufacturers show an ongoing decline in soup consumption. In 2011, only 64% of US households ate soup at least once in six months. Even fewer consumed soup on a weekly basis. (“Heavy” soup consumption means eating soup four or more times per month, or weekly on average.) Just 34% of Americans are heavy users of soup.
By comparison, the average Japanese household eats soup seven times a week. Close to half of Europeans, for their part, eat soup three to four times each week.
I couldn’t find specific data for Canadians. But I did learn that declining soup sales are an issue north of the 49th, as well. That’s due to competition from other products such as noodles, and a preference for homemade soup.
How North Americans Eat Soup
At the beginning of this discussion, I mentioned that low calorie soups were making a comeback. But we’ve seen that North Americans aren’t buying soup. If we’re eating homemade soup, what kind of soup is it? From what I can see, a lot of that soup is thick and heavy. We’re leaning towards hearty main-course soups. We aren’t really eating the kind of low calorie soups that make up a light, first course.
Look for soups on Pinterest, and you’ll find pages of really filling soups. There are creamy squash soups, roasted tomato soups, and cheesy broccoli soups. I scrolled through multiple pages of soups with added cream and cheese. Even the“skinny” soups were a meal all by themselves.
There were “weight loss” soups that started with 8 or even 10 cups of vegetables, but maybe only 6 cups of soup stock. These soups would be so filling that you wouldn’t need to eat anything else afterwards! With recipes like these, it’s a safe bet that most North Americans aren’t eating even the homemade soup more than a few times a month.
Preloading with Low Calorie Soup Reduces Calorie Intake
The thing is, we really ought to get back to eating soup every day. Scientists tested the effects of eating low calorie soup before a meal, and they discovered that this “preloading” cuts down on how much we eat at the meal. People who eat soup before the main dish tend to feel more full. And that means they eat fewer total calories during the meal than if they hadn’t eaten soup at all.
Even when the calories from the soup are counted, the total calorie intake for the meal is lower. Which is good news if you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to maintain a healthy body weight, particularly during the Christmas season.
In order to benefit from this reduced calorie intake, it’s important to choose low calorie soups. That is, soups that are broth-based with vegetables in them. They should supply no more than 100 to 150 calories per serving. Avoid soups that are higher in calories, especially cream-based soups. These can actually lead to you eating more calories at your meal, instead of fewer.
Healthy Resolutions for 2018
Are you making any health resolutions for 2018? If you are, I hope you’ll allow me to suggest two resolutions based on recent discussions here at 24 Carrot Diet:
First of all, try to eat at least one dark green vegetable each day. If you can, add an orange fruit or vegetable, as well. If not, at least try alternating between the orange and the green foods so you can keep a steady supply of vitamin A;
Secondly, start adding low calorie soup to your diet on a regular basis. You don’t have to do it every day at first. Try making one batch of healthy vegetable soup a week, and just eat a small bowl to the beginning of meals whenever you feel like it. Even if you only do it once or twice a week at first, it’s probably an improvement. And any step in the right direction is going to help establish a healthy habit.
Remember to also think of your friends and family when you’re making these positive changes for your health. If you bring food to a gathering, choose a dish that incorporates those orange or dark green vegetables. If you’re hosting a dinner party or a family Christmas dinner, serve that low calorie soup as a first course. You’ll be helping your loved ones to make their first steps towards a healthier year for 2018 as well!
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
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