Once you 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 jumpstart 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. 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, vegetarian meat alternatives, 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. To help you get started, we’ve come up with a list of 12 Phase 1–friendly foods to always have on hand during this Phase and beyond:
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.
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 healthy snack.
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 all-natural, no-calorie sugar substitute to taste, and top with a sprinkling of chopped nuts —
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.
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.
frozen fudge pops or sugar-free frozen fruit-flavored 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.
juice and vegetable juice blends
are rich in vitamin C and potassium, as well as lycopene, a powerful carotenoid that has
been shown to help prevent certain forms of cancer and also help protect
against heart disease. These juices 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.
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 marinades and 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.
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.
cheese sticks make a
healthy midmorning or midafternoon snack. Be sure to choose varieties that
contain 6 grams of fat or less per ounce.