Soup- an essential holiday appetite tamer

ee-Medsoup1Chances are you’ve already come across countless strategies on how to survive the holiday season in roughly the same shape as you started.  But there’s one weapon against overeating that’s far superior to others: eating a steaming hot bowl of soup, particularly one chock full of chunky veggies,  before you hit the party circuit or a festive holiday feast.

Simply put,  there is nothing quite like soup to tame a hearty appetite.

In fact, including soup on your menu on a regular basis can be a smart way to practice girth control.

The scientific research on the subject backs this notion up with numerous studies showing soup’s impact on the subsequent intake of calories. While filling up assorted liquids can appear to help in weight management, one of my favourite studies on the subject from Pennsylvania State University, shows that eating soup offers more advantages to appetite control than drinking plain water.

The study examined the effects of water, both served with a food and incorporated into a food, on satiety.  The study subjects received one of three pre-lunch snacks and then were encouraged to eat as much lunch as they wanted. The  three pre-meal snacks, all containing the same number of calories,  consisted of   1) chicken rice casserole, 2) chicken rice casserole served with a glass of water and 3) chicken rice soup – which had the same ingredients and amount of water as the second test snack.

After having the first two test snacks, the chicken rice casserole and the casserole plus water, the subjects consumed almost the same number of calories at the following meal. But when they had the soup, where the water was basically incorporated into the casserole, they consumed about one third fewer calories than the other two options. And they didn’t make up for the fewer calories at dinner.

But if you’re opting for  soup as part of a waist management regime, keep in mind that not all soups are created equal. A   broth-based soup packed with lots of  vegetables like zucchini, cabbage, spinach and mushrooms offers appetite taming  at any time at a caloric bargain.  At the same time, it can provide the veggies that may be missing at many holiday parties. But if the soup replaces a meal because of what’s contained in the bowl – for instance meat and  starchy ingredients like noodles or rice, then consider it as a meal. Or if it’s fat-laden with cream or cheese, then it certainly  might curb your appetite but at a cost.

There’s not much that can beat a veggie-packed soup before dinner or prior to  heading out for a meal or a party. It won’t ruin your dinner but can help you from devouring the bread basket at a restaurant or hijacking a hors d’oeuvre tray as it passes by you.
And here’s something to keep in mind after the holiday season is over: soup is not just super in preventing weight gain, it can also make shedding pounds easier.
In a one-year study by the same researchers from Pennsylvania State University,   overweight subjects on a controlled calorie weight loss regime consumed  either one or two servings of low calorie soup, two servings of higher calorie snack food or just the controlled calorie diet each day. Each group consumed the same number of calories.  While the subjects in all the groups lost significant amounts of weight at the end of the one-year mark,  consuming two servings of low calorie soup daily led to 50% greater weight loss than consuming the  high calorie snack food.
Again, the key words for reaping the weight benefits were low calorie soup.
Stay tuned for some soup tips and then a recipe later this week.


Are you a soup eater? Have you tried it as an appetite tamer? Do you have any soup tips to pass on? Please share in the comments section below.

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Categories: Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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