We tried the 7-day cabbage soup cleanse – here’s what happened!

We tried the 7-day cabbage soup cleanse – here’s what happened!

We’ve heard that cleansing the body every 6-9 months can have tremendous benefits for your health, weight management and overall well-being. But what exactly happens to your body on a cleanse, and how do you do it?

The goal of a cleanse is to remove “harmful” stuff from your body

There’s no specific definition of a cleanse, but it often involves limiting your food intake to pressed juice or a water solution that supposedly rids your body of toxins. There are so many cleanses to dig through, but for the most part they require a serious lack of protein and leave your body running on fumes. You may lose weight from the lack of food intake, but we never understood how it would actually help jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

Enter the cabbage soup cleanse!

What piqued our interest about this cleanse is that you aren’t starving yourself, and instead you are filling up with superfoods. It is cheap, nutrient-rich and satiating. Cabbage is a super potent, low-calorie antioxidant that has numerous health bennies. After a week of eating whole, fiber-rich foods, your body feels refreshed and renewed as it has time to adapt to an absence of the many toxins it usually receives on a daily basis. Many people report a diminished cravings for sugar and refined carbs. Woo hoo! After the couple weeks I’ve had treating various guests to the whole gamut of Chicago eats, I’m ready to transition back to health.

Where do we start?

There are numerous pages that go through the actual cleanse plan and discuss FAQs, so we won’t do that here. See here for the official guidelines of the cleanse.

Here are a couple of OUR guidelines reacting to the ones in the official link:

  1. No, you are not allowed salt as part of this cleanse. But yes, we are adding a pinch of salt in our cabbage soup, maybe even a clove of garlic. Neither of these things are going to tip you over the edge – you are already consuming heaps of vegetables and fiber. You might as well make it taste yummy with spices so you can sustain through the week. No need to go crazy with sodium, but remember there are a whole range of spices that can be utilized to add flavor. Health food doesn’t have to be bland.
  2. We agree with the diet rules that you should never feel hungry or feel starved. Contrary to popular belief about cleanses or detoxes, starving or restricted your food intake dramatically is not only ineffective, it is unhealthy.
  3. Drink a ton of water. If you think you’re drinking a lot of water, drink more. Without it, you will feel bloated and constipated. Aim for 10 glasses a day! Also, make sure its water you are drinking. No juice, soda. We could cut out coffee and tea, but we’re not monsters. We’re going to drink our tea. As long as there’s no milk, sugar or creamer in it, a tiny bit of caffeine from coffee or tea is going to be fine, and will keep the withdrawals down to a minimum.
  4. SUBSTITUTIONS! Don’t be afraid of them. At the end of the day, you know the best about your body, not some manufactured set of rules that cannot be applied to everybody and every body. The substitutions we made: in the cabbage soup, we added mushrooms and got rid of celery (add any soup veggies you want! it’s yours for the week); in day 3, we substituted a sweet potato for a potato; in days 5 and 6, we substituted meat protein with vegetarian protein (seitan, tofu, chickpeas, paneer, etc.)
  5. When the going gets tough, and you think you’re going to burst and cave in, let yourself experience the caving in. Don’t go back to day 1, just move on. Experience it, understand what it was, and move on. We aren’t perfect humans, and no matter how easy or tough it is through the week, have grace with yourself. Health is a marathon, and shouldn’t be torturous.

So… what happened?

Glad you asked. Here is the day to day progress. I’ll refresh the blog every day with our updates!

DAY 1 – Fruit day

Today was full of motivation! I felt so hopey and dreamy. I got up to make tea and lined up my loot of berries for breakfast. Would you just look at me? Do you see how easily I’m pulling this off?!… I said to my audience of no one. I felt barely hungry through the rest of the morning, and got my lunch of – yes – more berries and a green apple. Well, 4pm hit and I was feeling devastated. All the cravings of food that I never, ever eat were floating in my brain. I think I even saw a commercial for Boston Market and thought “MINE MINE MINE.” I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years, sooooo that speaks to my stretch of cravings. What really helped was getting my soup together. The act of chopping things that were not fruit to add to the soup was weirdly therapeutic. By the end of the night, I cheated. I put 1 tbsp of peanut butter on a green apple. Not sorry. But, I survived! Fruit, more fruit, soup, peanut butter, and tea! Was I bloated? Yes. Was I hungry? No.


I was worried today would be a real slog, but starting it with a sweet potato really softened the blow of having to eat veggies all day! I added 1 teaspoon of olive oil to my lunch salad which helped me get along. Ending with cabbage soup was really satisfying – especially with all the added spices in there. I have felt pretty full all day, and woke up feeling much less bloated. My jeans, which have been on the tighter side recently (wudup burrito lunch), but woke up today feeling less snug in there. Progress is made! And I’m full!


Today was better than yesterday. Adding fruit back in gave me a lot more hope for myself, and had me making good choices like adding green apple to my salad. I added all my leftover veggies into a salad with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and made a giant fruit salad with my leftover fruit. I ate two bowls of cabbage soup. I was really vibing with the soup after days of the same veggies and fruit in my existence. I’m not feeling hungry or withdrawal symptoms, but I’m realizing that all I can think about is food. All the food I vowed against for the next 7 days. All of my random cravings have come back to eat me up. I think I’m psyching myself up to think this cleanse will help me not reach for those things, that I’ll be a newly-formed beacon of health and wellness, but really at this point it’s just making me want to add a bag of Lay’s to my soup… NOT GOOD NEWS!


Today is the weirdest day. I almost felt like a baby bringing a whole bottle of milk and 6 bananas into work. I have to say, the combo is delicious. DELICIOUS! I haven’t had a glass of plain milk since I was 8. It also makes for a great breakfast, unlike the veggie day. You are taking it in a lot of potassium for one day, so definitely pace yourself, and drink a lot of water. I had the soup for dinner and didn’t feel weird at all. Cravings? Still there. Bloating? Gone.


Technically, today calls for beef and tomatoes, but to include a vegetarian substitution I ate seitan instead. If you don’t like tomatoes a good substitution is a red pepper. I ended up roasting the red pepper in the oven, grilling the seitan on the stove, and then adding fresh grape tomatoes. But given the versatility of both vegetable, there’s a lot you can do with today. They recommend today to drink the most amount of water that you can, apparently as a way to flush out all of the lyric acid. All in all today felt very manageable, and the amount of protein you taken as a welcome change from the more meager vegetable and fruit days. Not to mention I’m also more than halfway done with the week. I’m feeling much less bloated today, and have a better grasp over random cravings or withdrawal symptoms! Two more days to go!



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