I¡¯ve never been a dieter.
Thanks to my mom¡¯s deliciously balanced meals enjoyed as a family almost every night growing up, I¡¯m a naturally healthy eater. And, I was blessed to inherit my dad¡¯s running talent, meaning my competitive running days made it necessary for me to fuel my body with the right mix of whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and veggies, a practice I maintain today. Plus, with a boyfriend who¡¯s a personal trainer and nutritionist, there¡¯s no way I¡¯d ever get away with putting trash into my body, even if I wanted to.
However, winter is a long season. And dark. And cold. Did I mention long? So, despite my healthy diet (albeit not quite as clean as it is during the warmer months when a salad sounds better than a wrap and there¡¯s no football season to sneak a few wings, burgers, and nachos into the mix), I still emerged from the gloomy abyss feeling a little heavier and more sluggish than I did when I entered it almost six months ago. That¡¯s why I pounced on the chance to try a complimentary souping program by Z¨¹PA NOMA. I figured that if it worked, it would be the perfect way to jumpstart my metabolism, detox my poor winter body, and give me the motivation I need to stay on track for tank top and swimsuit season.
Like juicing, some souping cleanses are essentially useless because they eliminate many of the health benefits of the fruits or veggies during the production process. What sold me on Z¨¹PA was its commitment to using the whole vegetable¡ª¡°from seed to skin,¡± it boasts¡ªwhich ensures all the vitamins and fiber remain intact. It also uses High Pressure Processing instead of high heat, which means the freshness of the veggies is minimally altered and the nutrient value of heat-sensitive vitamins like D, E, and K isn¡¯t affected. Plus, each bottle of chilled soup contains at least four servings of organic vegetables with extra superfood flavor boosts for maximum wellness.
I tried the three-day plan, which consists of six different chilled soups to be sipped every two hours. The first, third, and fifth (corresponding to breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are paired with a small meal and the rest serve as snacks to keep blood sugar levels and caloric intake balanced throughout the day.
8 a.m. I cracked open my inaugural bottle, Organic Cucumber Avocado Fennel, on my way to work. At 110 calories, it promises to deliver 19 percent of my daily gut-friendly fiber and 30 percent of my vitamin C, plus a decent amount of protein, calcium, and iron. It also has apple cider vinegar blended in, the shining star of the wellness world. (Check out these powerful health benefits of apple cider vinegar.) Hands down my favorite flavor, it was light, fresh, and slightly creamy, a green cousin of the traditional fruit smoothie. As soon as I got to the office, I paired it with my go-to breakfast: a low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein protein shake.
10 a.m. Before I knew it, it was time for Organic Yellow Pepper Habanero. I was still full from breakfast, but I obediently downed my second bottle. The added turmeric for bright flavor and color should help eliminate inflammation, and the habanero¡¯s impressive capsaicin content is supposed to give my closing-in-on-30-metabolism a welcome boost.
Noon: Organic Tomato Gazpacho (an antioxidant powerhouse, courtesy of lycopene-rich tomatoes) is sipped alongside a small salad topped with grilled chicken. Seems like Z¨¹PA¡¯s promise to keep my belly full is the real deal because this soup is so good I want to dip olive oil toasted bruschetta slices in it, but luckily I¡¯m too full to follow through. Plus, it¡¯s already blended with olive oil to help my body better absorb and use fat-soluble vitamins A and K.
2 p.m. Next on the menu is Organic Carrot Coconut Lime. The most caloric option at 150 calories and eight grams of fat, the calories are far from empty. It delivers a whopping 350 percent of my vitamin A for the day and a dose of superfoods ginger and cumin, both known to aid in digestion. I¡¯m still too full to snack.
5 p.m. The Organic Tomatillo Jalape?o soup is supposed to be paired with dinner, but I wanted to hit the gym, first, so I used it as my pre-workout snack (usually another protein shake or a piece of fruit to get the healthy sugar and carbs I need to power through my workout) in transit. At just 80 calories, it still packs quite a punch. In addition to a ton of immune-boosting vitamin C, filling fiber, and mood-enhancing B vitamins, it also has spirulina, the ultimate superfood because it contains protein and a laundry list of vitamins, all wrapped up in unassuming algae. A hint of avocado offers a refreshing coolness to counteract the spice and mask the antioxidant-rich garlic.
7 p.m. I¡¯m so full of liquid that I swap my post-gym water bottle for my last bottle of soup, Organic Beet Orange Basil. I drink it alongside a piece of salmon, spinach, and a little quinoa. Heart-healthy beets plus basil (with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) is a perfectly light way to end the day
Days 2 and 3
Repeat and repeat. For the sake of consistency, I did everything the same except I altered my salad toppings and protein choice for dinner. I also started wondering whether or not souping was actually a healthy way to sneak in extra veggies, so I asked Courtney Baron, a certified New York City-area health coach and Thumbtack¡¯s resident health coach to weigh in.
¡°It happens to be an excellent practice after these long [winter] months to help restore the digestive system and detox the body. By eating soups that are rich in vegetables and superfoods, your body can receive a ton of vitamins and nutrients without forcing the digestive system to work as hard,¡± she says.
Good news, since I waited until after I¡¯d already started the cleanse to find out.
By the end of the three days, I felt well on my way to becoming my pre-winter self. I had the energy and motivation to hit the gym every day, was never tempted to grab a midday snack (seriously, not once!), and I felt cleaner and healthier than I have in months. If you¡¯re looking for a way double up on some much-needed veggies, souping is a pretty good (and easy) way to go!