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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.


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.


The chicken soup diet is a diet that is designed to be followed for seven days, although many versions of the diet say that it can be followed for as long as desired, or repeated at any time. It consists of a soup recipe and five breakfast choices. After breakfast, the only thing that the dieter is allowed to eat until the next morning is the soup. This diet also tells dieters what they may or may not drink while on the diet.

The Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of oil (olive oil is recommended)
  • 4 parsnips (about 1 pound) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 1 turnip (about 3/4 of a pound) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 16 cups of reduced fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 7 (5 oz.) cans of chicken or 1 1/2 pound (5 cups) cooked fresh chicken
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen carrots
  • 1 box (10 oz.) frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped collard greens
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill

Directions: 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.


The chicken soup diet allows the dieter 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 5 days, and then choose the breakfasts they liked best and repeat them for days 6 and 7. The breakfasts are:

Breakfast 1: The dieter may eat 1 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup of fruit salad sprinkled with wheat germ.

Breakfast 2: Breakfast 2 allows the dieter to eat 1 cup of ricotta cheese combined with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a dash of cinnamon. The dieter may also eat 2 pieces of toasted whole-grain bread and 3 dried figs.


Dietary supplement— A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual’s diet with the expectation that it will improve health.

Mineral— An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain a health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.

Obese— More than 20% over the individual’s ideal weight for their 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.

Breakfast 3: The dieter may eat 1 1/2 cups of Total brand cereal, along with 1/2 cup of nonfat milk and 1/2 cup of calcium enriched orange juice.

Breakfast 4: This breakfast allows the dieter to eat 1 small whole-wheat bagel that is topped with 1 ounce of melted fat-free cheddar cheese, along with 1/2 cup of prune juice.

Breakfast 5: Breakfast 5 allows the dieter to eat 1 1/2 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.


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 have 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.


There are many benefits to losing weight if it is done 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 II diabetes and heart disease. The risk of these diseases may be reduced through weight loss. This is especially true for very obese people who are generally thought to be at the greatest risk. This diet, however, is not considered appropriate for long term moderate weight loss.

The chicken soup diet may have some other benefits in addition to the claim that it can allow a dieter to lose a large amount of weight in a short amount of time. The soup is usually low in calories and contains many different vegetables, which are an important part of a healthy diet. Eating a soup like the one in this diet may be able to help dieters feel more full without eating very many calories, which may make it easier for some dieters stick to a healthy reduced calorie diet.


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 should be especially cautious if beginning a very restricted diet like this one because deficiencies of vitamins and other nutrients can negatively impact a baby that is receiving its nutrients from its mother.


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 that the dieter will get enough of all vitamins and minerals required each day for good health. Any dieter thinking of beginning this diet may want to consult a healthcare provider about a multi-vitamin or supplement that would be appropriate to take while on this diet to help reduce the risk of deficiencies. This is especially true for any dieter considering following a very limited diet for an extended period of time. Supplements have their own associated risks.

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 did laboratory research that showed that chicken soup may.


  • Is this diet safe for me?
  • Is this diet the best diet to meet my goals?
  • Do I have any dietary requirements this diet might not meet?
  • Would a multivitamin or other dietary supplement be appropriate for me if I were to begin this diet?
  • Is this diet safe for my entire family?
  • Is it safe for me to follow this diet over an extended period of time?
  • Are there any sign or symptoms that might indicate a problem while on this diet?

have anti-inflammatory properties that could help reduce the symptoms of the flu and colds. This research lends credibility to what many people already believed, that chicken soup was good for people who were ill. The research done 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 United States 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 given in MyPyramid, the updated version of the food guide pyramid. The chicken soup diet is extremely limited in what foods it allows dieters to eat. This makes it unlikely that dieters following this diet would get enough of all the necessary food groups. It also makes the diet likely to be especially unhealthy if followed for a long time or repeated frequently.

The chicken soup diet would probably allow most dieters to get the recommended daily allowance of vegetables. MyPyramid, recommends that healthy adults eat the equivalent of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day. The soup contains many different vegetables, and because it is the only food allowed after the prescribed breakfasts, it is likely that most dieters would eat enough of the soup during the day to get the recommended amount of vegetables. These vegetables would be the same ones each day, however, and because different vegetables contain different vitamins and nutrients it is generally recommended that a variety be consumed for optimum health.

MyPyramid also recommends that healthy adults eat the equivalent of 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day. Dieters following the diet strictly would not be able to get this recommended amount of fruit each day. The soup itself does not contain any fruit, and although 4 of the 5 breakfasts do contain some fruit, 1/2 cup of fruit salad or 1/2 cup of orange juice is not enough to meet the recommendations. Because the diet does not make recommendations for what can be drank while on the diet, a dieter may decide to drink fruit juice while on the diet. This would help the dieter get enough servings of fruit each day.

Dairy products are generally considered to be part of a healthy diet. The soup in the chicken soup diet does not contain any dairy, although each breakfast option does contain dairy of some kind. MyPyramid recommends the equivalent of 3 cups of low-fat or non-fat dairy per day for healthy adults. The breakfasts prescribed by the diet do not include enough dairy to meet this requirement. The diet does not tell a dieter what to drink while on the diet. If a dieter were to choose to drink skim milk while on the diet, this requirement might be met.

The chicken soup diet does not provide many sources of starches or grains. MyPyramid recommends the equivalent of 3 to 4 ounces of grains each day for healthy adults, of which at least half should be whole grains. Although 4 of the 5 breakfasts provide a serving or more of grains, it would not be enough to meet the requirements for a full day. There are no significant sources of grains or starches in the soup.

MyPyramid recommends that healthy adults eat between 5 and 6 1/2 ounces of meat or beans each day, and specifies that lean meat is preferable. The breakfasts allowed do not provide any servings of meat or beans, but the soup does contain chicken that is a healthy lean meat. Because the amount of soup allowed to be eaten is unlimited, it is likely that a person following this diet would consume enough chicken to meet this requirement. The dieter would however only be consuming one type of meat. Variety is generally considered important for a healthy diet because different meats and beans contain different vitamins and minerals.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that healthy adults get 30 minutes or more of light to moderate exercise each day. The chicken soup diet does not include any recommendation for exercise. Exercise is generally accepted to be an important part of any weight loss program. Studies have shown that weight loss programs are more effective when they combine diet and exercise instead of focusing on just one aspect alone.


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Helen M. Davidson