We know it can sometimes be tough to stick with a healthy eating plan, but fortifying yourself with nutritious, filling foods throughout the day 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), good unsaturated fats, and lean protein (on all Phases) as well as fruits and whole grains (on Phase 2 and beyond). 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 many brands of highly processed instant oatmeal, for example, aren't as good for you (or for your weight loss) as the steel-cut variety. The
latter (including the new quick-cooking option) has all its fiber still intact, while most of the fiber in many instant
varieties 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 (whether it's in whole grains, vegetables, or legumes), 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 bread, for
example, drizzle it with a little monounsaturated extra-virgin olive oil or pair it with some nut butter rather than eating the bread alone or with a saturated-fat-heavy topping like butter or full-fat cheese. Likewise, having an occasional baked white 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.
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 fish and shellfish, skinless chicken, turkey, and duck breast;
game meats like bison and venison; lean cuts of beef and pork (and lean lamb on occasion); vegetarian meat alternatives like tofu; 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 carbohydrates and the rate at which your stomach empties, and thus produces a feeling of fullness. You can dress salads or vegetables with them (along with some extra-virgin olive oil), to get the surprising benefit.