Fruits are not only refreshing and flavorful, they’re also chock-full of health-boosting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These good carbs are an essential part of the South Beach Diet, beginning on Phase 2, and are important for optimal health. Studies have shown that people who eat more fruit, along with vegetables, have fewer chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. You can enjoy fruit as a snack, tossed into salads, sprinkled on top of cereal, and in chilled and baked desserts. To really maximize the benefits of these superfoods, it’s best to eat a wide variety, since different fruits contain different nutrients.
Fruits are are off-limits during Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. Here’s why: The goal of Phase 1 — the most restrictive part of this healthy lifestyle plan — is to jump-start your weight loss, stabilize blood-sugar levels, and eliminate cravings for sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. While fruits are nutritious, many are also high in natural sugars, which can cause swings in blood sugar that lead to cravings for more sugary and starchy foods. By eliminating fruit and other foods that are high in sugar, even natural sugar, for just two weeks on Phase 1, your cravings should disappear and you’ll gain better control over what you eat.
Fruits on Phase 2
After two weeks on Phase 1, you can move on to Phase 2 and start gradually adding most whole fruits (not juices) back into your diet. The key is to transition mindfully so your cravings don’t return. Some people seamlessly reintroduce fruit, while others need to experiment with different fruits and monitor any that reawaken cravings. Regardless of the method that ends up working best for you, start with having fruit once a day and see how you feel. The goal is to gradually increase your fruit servings to 3 per day.
Fruits for Phase 3
Some fruits are off-limits until Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet because they have higher levels of natural sugar. And even on Phase 3, these fruits are recommended only occasionally. The fruits in this category include watermelon, pineapple, dates and figs, fruit juices (which lack fiber), and canned fruit in heavy syrup. No food is technically forbidden once you are on Phase 3, but if you do find that a specific fruit sets off your sugar cravings, try your best to avoid it. There are many other delicious fruit options that won’t jeopardize your weight-loss success.