One of the issues we face with dieting is learning how to manage hunger. Whether it’s that mid-afternoon slump, or mid-morning cravings, being hungry for too long is a fast way to derail all our good intentions to turn over a new lettuce leaf.
Different strategies have in the past been proposed to deal with hunger. Some people find drinking a glass of water every time they are hungry helpful. The model Gisele Bundchen is a real advocate of this approach. And judging by her stunning figure, she’s a good poster girl for increasing your fluid intake. Water has many benefits for the body, and people often simply don’t drink enough. There’s even a book on the subject that presents the view that many diseases in old age are related to a kind of entrenched state of dehydration (“Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by F. Batmanghelidj, MD).
Whilst diets composed mainly of soups are fairly common (think the Cabbage Soup diet and Liz Hurley’s favorite, the Watercress Soup Diet), this is not the healthiest way to approach soup. Nor is it likely to lead to long-term success. Diets that focus on just one vegetable or type of food are not only very boring to go on, but they also do not provide the range of nutrients that the body needs to function well. Could hunger actually be the body’s way of saying, ‘I need some nutrients’? Sustainable weight loss is not achieved by setting up an unrealistic eating plan that is painful to follow for more than a week and leaves you fantasizing about food all the time. Unless of course, you don’t mind going to bed hungry for two years like Liz did after her son was born.
Starvation and nutrient restriction lead to loss of muscle mass and bone density. Not to mention fatigue and other possible health problems if followed long term.
The irony is that soups, including cabbage soup and watercress soup, are wonderful for you. They are easy to digest and can be prepared ahead and frozen. That way you have a low kilojoule snack that is often high in fiber ready at the helm as a quick pick-me-up when hunger strikes between meals.
And some soups have surprising health benefits. For example, the Japanese Miso soup has been linked with preventing liver cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer, with theories, also proposed a benefit to the skin due to linoleic acid. Whether this is found to be true, it is a delicious base for your favorite vegetables, and very easy to prepare from scratch. It takes only about ten minutes to prepare, and when garnished with grated ginger is a fantastic energizing soup when you are tired.
Neither soup nor water alone will lead to weight loss, and neither should these strategies be used to extremes and become a substitute for following a healthy, balanced diet. But they provide a way to minimize excursions into old habits we are trying to change as we address the lifestyle choices that led to gaining excess weight in the first place. And by providing the nutrients your body actually needs, you’ll be creating a change in the quality of life experienced day-to-day.