When I first heard of “souping,” it brought me back to my clinical days working in a hospital, where pureed soups and other easy to digest foods — also known as “full liquids” — would be prescribed for patients recovering from gastrointestinal surgery, or those who had difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Then I reflected upon how much I regularly enjoy soup, especially for the comfort it provides on cold, dreary days — even though, thankfully I have no health issues that would require such an easily digestible meal. Soup is often my go-to in the winter, especially varieties made with beans or skinless chicken, nutritious veggies, noodles and tasty broth. And I’ve always liked the fact that even though I feel full and satisfied after a bowl of broth, it’s not like the fullness I experience after eating a bowl of pasta.
Among nutritionists, I’m not alone in my feelings about this comforting, filling, yet not-so-high calorie food. “Soup can be a healthy and delicious way to create balance after a season of heavy meals or even a particularly indulgent weekend,” said Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It gives your digestive system a chance to reboot and de-bloat.”
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Regularly eating soup might help you shed some unwanted pounds, too. Several studies have shown that when the soup is eaten before a meal, it fills you up and helps you eat fewer calories for the entire meal. In one study, when people consumed soup for a snack instead of chips and pretzels, they lost 50% more weight — even though both the soup and snacks, as well as the total day’s diet, had the same amount of calories.
What’s the slimming secret of soup? Binding water into food slows down gastric emptying, keeping your stomach fuller for longer, according to Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University who has authored studies on soup and its effects on satiety, and wrote “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.” Plus, she added, “the water in soup adds weight and volume so that you can have a satisfying amount without too many calories.”