We know it can sometimes be tough to stick with a healthy eating plan, but fortifying yourself with nutritious, filling foods can really help control your hunger. That’s why, on the South Beach Diet, we stress eating nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates, such as vegetables (including beans and other legumes), fruits and whole grains (Phase 2), good unsaturated fats, and lean protein. It’s also why we tell you to avoid highly processed baked goods, breads, and unhealthy snack foods and other convenience foods, which have virtually no fiber and don’t fill you up.
High-fiber foods, good fats, and lean protein (as well as acidic foods) all help to slow the digestion of the sugars in carbohydrates. When you include a variety of these foods in your diet, your body produces less insulin, which means fewer swings in blood sugar levels. It is these swings that are the cause of cravings and hunger in the first place. Curb your hunger with healthy foods that are filling:
foods. The role that fiber plays in
digestion is to slow the absorption of sugar. The more fiber in a food, the
greater its effect. That's why highly processed instant oatmeal, for example,
isn’t as good for you (or for your weight loss) as the steel-cut variety. The
latter has all its fiber still intact, while most of the fiber in the instant
variety has been stripped out. Therefore, before your stomach can digest the
sugars in the steel-cut oatmeal, for example, it has to separate them from the
fiber. Once isolated, the fiber passes undigested through your system, slowing
down digestion. In other words, fiber is an obstacle to digestion, and a good
one, because it promotes satiety.
fats. It’s not just fiber that moderates
your digestive process; fat slows the speed at which your small intestine
accesses the sugars you've eaten. When you eat a piece of white bread, for
example (which we hope you will do only occasionally on Phase 3), drizzle it
with a little monounsaturated extra-virgin olive oil or pair it with some
reduced-fat cheese rather than eating the bread alone or with highly saturated
butter or full-fat cheese. Likewise, having an occasional baked potato topped
with reduced-fat sour cream on Phase 3 is better than eating the potato plain.
The calorie count might be higher with the sour cream, but the fat contained in
the sour cream will slow down the digestive process, thereby lessening the
amount of insulin that the potato prompts your body to make. Good fats also
make food taste better, helping you to feel more satisfied. Mono- and
polyunsaturated fats are the best kind. Keep foods high in saturated fats to a
minimum and cut out foods containing trans fats altogether (check the
ingredients list carefully and watch out for hydrogenated or partially
hydrogenated oils, which mean trans fats).
protein. Because protein foods are digested
slowly, they do not produce the spikes in blood sugar that stimulate hunger and
overeating. On the South Beach Diet, you can get your protein from lean cuts of
beef and pork, and lamb on occasion; skinless chicken, turkey, and duck breast;
game meats like bison and venison; fish and shellfish; soy products; beans and
other legumes; eggs; nuts and seeds in moderation; and fat-free and low-fat
- Acidic foods. Interestingly, acidic foods, such as lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar, also slow the digestion of carbs and the rate at which your stomach empties, thus promoting a feeling of fullness. You can dress salads or vegetables with them, or use them in marinades, and enjoy the additional benefit.