Chicken Soup Diet

Definition

The chicken soup diet is a seven-day diet that allows the dieter to eat one of five approved breakfasts each day and as much chicken soup as desired.

Origins

The origins of the chicken soup diet are not clear. It seems to circulate mostly from person to person and on the Internet. For many years, people have believed that chicken soup has various health properties. Many different cultures give versions of chicken soup to people who are sick. This belief in the health benefits of chicken soup may have something to do with its popularity as a diet food.

Description




Homemade chicken soup.





Homemade chicken soup.
(Jill Battaglia/Shutterstock.com)
The soup

The recipe for the soup is as follows:

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, jalapeno, parsnips, celery, and turnip to the pot. Cook these until the vegetables are tender but still crisp, which will take approximately 15 minutes. Next, add the carrots, collard greens, broccoli, onions, chicken broth, and lemon juice to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 5 minutes. This recipe is said to make approximately 26 one-cup servings. There may be slightly different versions of this recipe, but this one is the most common.

Breakfast

The chicken soup diet allows dieters to chose one breakfast each day from five possible breakfasts. Most versions of the diet encourage dieters to eat each breakfast once for the first five days, and then choose the breakfast they liked best and repeat them for days six and seven. The breakfasts are:

  1. 1 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup of fruit salad sprinkled with wheat germ
  2. 1 cup of ricotta cheese combined with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a dash of cinnamon, along with 2 pieces of toasted whole-grain bread and 3 dried figs
  3. 1.5 cups of Total brand cereal, along with 1/2 cup of nonfat milk and 1/2 cup of calcium-enriched orange juice
  4. 1 small whole-wheat bagel topped with 1 ounce of melted fat-free cheddar cheese, along with 1/2 cup of prune juice
  5. 1.5 cups of cooked Wheatena brand cereal along with 1/2 cup of nonfat milk

After the dieter eats one of these breakfasts, only the chicken soup may be consumed for the rest of the day.

Function

The chicken soup diet does not make any claims about how much weight a dieter can lose during the seven days of the diet, although it is usually implied that the dieter will be able to lose a substantial amount of weight. It does not include any exercise or healthy living recommendations. Some versions of the diet suggest that it would be a good diet to use if a dieter wanted to “jump start” a more comprehensive dieting plan, or if a dieter needed to lose a large amount of weight quickly for an upcoming special event.

KEY TERMS
Mineral—
An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain health. Examples include zinc, copper, and iron.
Obese—
More than 20% over an individual's ideal weight for height and age or having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
Vitamin—
A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

Benefits

Although the soup recipe is healthy, the chicken soup diet is not a well-balanced diet and is not recommended. Weight is best lost at a safe, moderate pace through a combination of healthy eating and exercise. There are many conditions for which obesity is considered a risk factor, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The risk of these and other diseases may be reduced through weight loss. This is especially true for people who are very obese, who are generally thought to be at the greatest risk. The chicken soup diet is not a form of long-term moderate weight loss.

Precautions

The chicken soup diet is very restrictive and should not be followed for an extended period of time. Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet should consult a doctor or other medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and other factors such as the presence of diseases or conditions. The chicken soup diet does not allow very many different foods, and although the soup may be healthy, it is unlikely to be able to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy adults each day. Pregnant or breastfeeding women especially should not follow this or any other restrictive diet, because deficiencies of vitamins and other nutrients can negatively impact a fetus.

Risks

There are some risks associated with any diet. The chicken soup diet does not allow the dieter to eat very many different foods each day. This means that it is unlikely to provide enough of the vitamins and minerals required each day for good health. Anyone thinking of beginning this diet should first consult with a healthcare practitioner. The risk of developing nutrient deficiencies increase the longer the diet is followed.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

Research and general acceptance

The chicken soup diet has not been the subject of any significant scientific studies. In 2000, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties. The research was very preliminary and was done in a laboratory, not using human subjects, so it is not clear what the effect on the immune system of a human would actually be. The soup used in the research was not made using the recipe given in this diet, although it did contain some of the same ingredients.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes recommendations for how many servings of each type of food most adults need to eat each day for good health. These recommendations are represented by MyPlate, which replaced the former food pyramid. The chicken soup diet is extremely limited in what foods it allows dieters to eat and does not include all of the recommended food groups, such as fruit, dairy, and carbohydrates. The diet is likely to be especially unhealthy if followed for a long time or repeated frequently.

See also Fad diets .

Resources

BOOKS

Jones, Keith. Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook. 5th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2016.

Robitaille, Francis P., ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Biomedical Books, 2007.

WEBSITES

“Chicken Soup Diet.” FadDiet.com . http://www.faddiet.com/chicsoupdiet.html (accessed March 19, 2018).

“Chicken Soup Diet.” The Diet Channel. http://www.thedietchannel.com/Chicken-soup-diet.htm (accessed March 19, 2018).

U.S. Department of Agriculture. “My Plate.” Choose MyPlate.gov . http://www.choosemyplate.gov (accessed March 19, 2018).

ORGANIZATIONS

U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC, 20250, (202) 720-2791, http://www.usda.gov .

Helen M. Davidson

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.