How is cabbage good for weight loss? What factors make it the right choice for me? Here’s how I’m using my cabbage salad diet in my weight loss journey.
Why I think 2 weeks of cabbage will work for my weight loss
I’m on a path to reform my way of eating, exercising, and thinking. I am eating on a long-term plan that is varied, balanced, and natural.
But I have 16 weeks to lose at least 40 pounds. That is a big mark to hit, so I am in need of some major changes. Rather than struggle with a complicated meal plan over the next 16 weeks, I am choosing to follow a series of short-term diet plans to drop weight in dramatic fashion. Ideally, when I am tired of one diet, it will finish up. Then I will start on a new one. A hard diet will be followed by one that is easier and allows me to eat more food.
The cabbage salad diet falls in this framework. It is not going to be easy, but it is going to be short-term. The goal is to lose weight, and I know from research and personal experience that cabbage helps when dieting.
Cabbage is a weight loss power tool
For at least 6,000 years, cabbage has been cultivated. There are over 400 varieties of cabbage, some grown just for ornamental purposes. It grows around the world in cool climates. And it is cheap and easy to find in grocery stores or farmers markets.
The plant is high in fiber, low in carbs. It has lots of Vitamin C and K. Cabbage is full of beneficial minerals and phytonutrients. It is believed to have cancer-fighting properties like its cruciferous relatives.
It is a versatile vegetable, too. You can braise, boil, bake, grill, pickle, ferment, or eat it raw. It has a relatively mild taste, making it a great platform for herbs, spices, and other foods.
So, with all these benefits, why all the back and forth about how great cabbage is?
Cabbage for weight loss is a two-edged sword
Using cabbage for weight loss has been around for a long time, but has never really lost its fad status.
The benefits are still hotly debated between dietitians, doctors, fitness gurus, and laymen if cabbage is good for weight loss. Cabbage is a great dietary staple in many circles. Some consider it a “superfood”, packed with nutrients and minerals in greater concentrations than in other foods, while being lower in carbohydrates and sugars.
People consume cabbage worldwide. But dependence on it as a weight loss food is viewed by many people in the nutrition industry as unhealthy.
The factors that make it famous: low carb, high fiber, low calorie, also draw criticism from those who say it is too nutritionally weak to be the foundation of a healthy diet. A diet aimed at losing weight or simply trying to eat healthier should be more broad and balanced, they say.
Falling in and out of love with cabbage
Somewhere around the end of the last century, I believe people had a falling out with the staple vegetables of their parents and their parents’ parents.
Things like cabbage, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, and turnips became passe in favor of trendy vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, square watermelons, and artisan lettuces. We turned away from our “country” and “poverty” foods, the ones grown in our backyards and victory gardens.
Meat, milk, cheese, and bread went on a marketing splurge, along with billions of dollars spent on promoting processed foods, snacks, and candies. Sort shift was paid to our favorite vegetables, most notably the ones previous generations relied on for their powerful nutritional value.
People even bragged about how absent vegetables were from their diets.
Coming home to cabbage
Then, when the gluttony of meat and gluten had caught up with us, we felt the pull back to wholesome food. We went vegan, we went gluten-free. We embraced kale and quinoa.
Someone rediscovered cabbage, still cheap and plentiful in the stores. They took advantage of its low-calorie count and high fiber and began touting cabbage soup diets as a heritage recipe for losing all the weight we’d gained.
People began looking at the eating habits of others around the world who had never abandoned cabbage and found that they suffered far less from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and cancer.
With the same enthusiasm we had embraced Kobe beef, purple Peruvian potatoes, and molecular gastronomy, we now dove into all the foods we hated when they were served at our grandparents’ tables: brussels sprouts, beets, soybeans, radishes, collard greens, and cabbage.
And I think the problem became that we saw an excess of anything, high-fat meat or low-fat vegetables, as the cure-all for our lives. We thought only in terms of quick fixes and miracle remedies instead of long-term dietary strategies.
Cabbage comes back with a bite
The use of cabbage for weight loss became the abuse of cabbage. People ate it to the exclusion of other foods and necessary fats. Yes, there were short-term successes. Cabbage contains on average about 30 calories per cup. I don’t know anyone who went on the cabbage soup diet who didn’t lose weight. But the low caloric value of the regimen made sticking with it past a few days difficult for most, impossible for many.
This led to people not just abandoning cabbage-based diets, but reverting to the comfort of the eating patterns that got them into trouble to begin with. People binged on cabbage and other low-cal foods, then fell off the wagon and went back to their old dietary ways.
Experts in the fields began castigating the practice of using cabbage for weight loss. They weren’t down on cabbage, just on people relying on it to break long-established eating habits. They became more strident and even began looking into the dark corners, trying to find evidence that demonstrated cabbage was bad – even cancer-causing (’cause nothing scares like cancer). Pro-cabbage and pro-not-so-much-cabbage advocates drew up into polarized camps. The people in the middle, the ones seeking balanced information, were left thinking cabbage patches were only good for sprouting babies.
My cabbage salad routine
My routine is pretty simple. At this stage, it needs to be. But it also needs to be a simple blueprint for me to use cabbage effectively and consistently in my diet going forward, past these 16 weeks.
I’m going to buy a broad collection of vegetables to make my salads. I will use the three most common cabbages: savoy, red/purple, and Chinese/nappa. Along with that, I’ll have some brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, seaweed, red bell peppers, avocado, raw nuts, herbs like parsley and cilantro, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cucumbers.
I’m going to cut everything up at the beginning of each week so the salad is easy to store and build. The ingredients stay in the fridge until needed.
I will build two days-worth of salads at a time. This way they are combined, dressed, and ready to eat when I need them.
I’m making my own salad dressing so I control the sugars and salt. This is also another way I’m adding flavor to the salad. Let’s face it, cabbage alone is pretty bland and boring.
Finally, I eat my cabbage salads with at least 32 oz of water. I’m hoping this is going to help with digestion. Eating fresh, raw, vegan food for two weeks should have a positive effect on my weight loss efforts.