It’s hard to believe the cabbage soup diet has been around for more than half a century – and even has offshoots! (The Spokane diet, Sacred Heart Hospital diet and the Dolly Parton diet all share the same principles.)

What makes the cabbage soup diet so enduring, and so – dare we say it – popular? Maybe it’s the promise of weighing 10+ fewer pounds after one week. Maybe it’s the duration: You’re only supposed to be on it for a week at a time.

Here’s how it works.

First, make a big ol’ pot of cabbage soup, which is basically a vegetable soup featuring bullion, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery, onions, green peppers and, of course, cabbage. (Let it simmer briefly to preserve as many nutrients as possible.) You can eat this soup as much as you want, whenever you’re hungry. You should also strictly follow these rules of the diet:

Day 1: Unlimited fruit except bananas

Day 2: Only non-starchy vegetables

Day 3: Fruits and vegetables

Day 4: Bananas and skim milk

Day 5: Beef or skinless baked chicken, plus tomatoes

Day 7: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices, vegetables

The pros of the cabbage soup diet: It’s only a week – and safe for the week. Think of it as a kick-start to a sensible weight loss program: You’ll be motivated by seeing the scale move in the right direction, and those diet restrictions mean you’ll have to break your habit of mindless munching.

The cons: Beyond the fact that the limited menu is boring? It’s just not a smart eating plan for more than a short period of time. The key to weight loss and good health in general is a dietary diversity – which means a daily rainbow of fruits and veggies on your plate, plus whole grains, beans, nuts and other healthy staples.

Author: Hope Cristol, Cooking Light