Make the decision to start a healthy eating plan.
One of the first things you should do is create a grocery shopping list. As you already know, the South Beach Diet is broken down into three Phases. Phase 1, the shortest, lasts just two weeks and is designed to jump-start your weight loss and eliminate cravings for sugar and refined starches. The purpose of Phase 1 is to stabilize blood-sugar levels (this minimizes cravings), making it ideal for people who are prediabetic or diabetic, as well as for those who need to lose more than 10 pounds. Phase 1 is also the most restrictive Phase — but don’t worry, you won’t go hungry.
3 balance meals a day
You’ll be eating three balanced meals every day along with a midmorning and midafternoon snack and a dessert after dinner. Before you embark on Phase 1, you’ll need to stock your kitchen with a variety of healthy foods, including lean protein, high-fiber veggies and legumes, reduced-fat cheeses, eggs, soy foods, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and healthy, unsaturated fats, such as those found in extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
12 tips to a healthy eating plan:
- Frozen vegetables are convenient and cost-friendly when fresh local produce isn’t in season. Frozen vegetables are also typically cheaper than fresh and keep for a longer period of time. Choose varieties without high-fat sauces or added sugars.
- Canned vegetables, including beans and other legumes, should not be overlooked. They cost less than fresh or frozen vegetables and are often just as nutritious as their fresh and frozen counterparts. Beans, lentils, garbanzos, and other legumes, as well as asparagus, collard greens, and hearts of palm are some examples of canned vegetables you’ll want to have on hand. Look for reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned products. You can also cut down on the sodium content by draining the liquid from the can and rinsing the vegetables under cold running water. As with frozen vegetables, avoid products with fatty sauces or added sugars or syrup.
- Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and selenium. They’re so versatile that you can enjoy them at any meal, whether it’s in a breakfast frittata or omelet, an egg-topped salad or sandwich for lunch, or as part of a dinner casserole. A hard-boiled egg also makes a great snack.
- Fat-free or part-skim ricotta cheese is packed with calcium and can add a creamy texture to many dishes. For a quick after-dinner treat: Simply mix a half-cup of fat-free or part-skim ricotta cheese with some vanilla extract (or another extract of your choice) and a little sugar substitute to taste, and top with a sprinkling of chopped nuts — delicious!
- Plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt is a good dairy choice because it’s rich in calcium and other minerals and also provides protein and B vitamins. Yogurt is great for an on-the-go breakfast or as a snack before or after a workout. Try nonfat plain (0%) Greek yogurt for a creamier texture and considerably more protein.
- Lean uncured, reduced-sodium deli meats are ideal for making roll-ups for a healthy snack. Just take a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter and spread it over 1 or 2 slices of lean turkey, chicken, ham, or roast beef. Place on a lettuce leaf and roll up for a delicious midmorning or midafternoon snack.
- No-sugar-added frozen fudge pops or sugar-free frozen pops will satisfy your sweet tooth on any Phase but are particularly welcome on Phase 1. Sugar-free hard candies can also be enjoyed. Be sure to count the pops and the candies toward your daily allotment of 75-100 calories of Sweet Treats.
- Tomato juice and vegetable juice blends are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, a powerful carotenoid that has been shown to help prevent certain forms of cancer and also help protect against heart disease. Tomato juice and vegetable juice blends are healthier alternatives to fruit juice because they don’t have as much natural sugar and they’re made with 100% vegetables. Be sure to choose the low-sodium brands.
- Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils because it contains heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids. It can be used for quick sautéing or stir-frying or to create flavorful salad dressings.
- Nuts are high in plant protein and fiber and they’re great to have on hand for a healthy snack. They also add crunch to salads and grain dishes, and make a nice topping for a ricotta dessert. Because nuts are calorie-dense, however, they may cause your weight loss to stall if you eat too many, so stick to no more than a 1/4-cup serving daily.
- Salad greens can be tossed with a South Beach Diet–friendly salad dressing for lunch or dinner. Darker varieties like Romaine, arugula, kale, and red leaf offer more nutritional benefits than iceberg.
- Part-skim cheese sticks make a healthy midmorning or midafternoon snack. Be sure to choose varieties that contain 6 grams of fat or less per ounce.