There’s a reason South Beach Diet is so appealing. You have the flexibility to go out to eat and have friends over for dinner. You can cook up delicious and nutritious meals and snacks that are simple to prepare and packed with flavor. Plus, we teach you HOW to make these meals so that you can continue to live a healthy lifestyle long after you lose the weight.
Learn the principles of a balanced meal that you can carry with you even after your weight loss journey is over. Check out these eight tips and tricks to help you get started with your DIY meals and snacks:
1. Stick to What You Know
Are you used to going through the drive-thru for a double cheeseburger? While the idea of a fast food favorite should be avoided, enjoying a cheeseburger, believe it or not, is still an option as long as you follow the South Beach Diet guidelines with Protein, Good Carbs, Non-Starchy Veggies and more.
When heading out to eat, let South-Beach-approved foods be your guide, whether you’re ordering out or cooking at home. Ask the restaurant for grilled or baked chicken with the same ingredients or new combinations—tomato and basil, spinach and mushrooms, or onions and peppers. Check out our grocery guide for a list of approved foods. > You can stick to the ones that you already know and love.
2. Home Sweet Home
The best way to manage portions for your meals and snacks and be in total control of what you’re eating is to cook at home. People who frequently cook dinner at home consume fewer calories than those who cook less and consume fewer calories when they eat out, says research published a November 2014 study by Public Health Nutrition. Check out the Recipe section here on The Palm for plenty of smart and satisfying options.
With restaurants adding to already inflated portions, it can be challenging to stay on track. But we’ve got you covered—just ask the server to box up a third of your food before it arrives at your table. Or, order one entrée and split it two or three ways
3. Out and About
We’ve got a few more bright ideas for when you eat out—because you will. Avoid buffets; they’re just asking patrons to overeat. Seek out a restaurant with a diverse menu and good selection of fresh food and ask for a lighter-fare menu or guideline to help streamline your options. Then, ask your server to hold the bread so it’s never a temptation. Order a salad or veggie-based soup to start.
Beware of entrees and main courses that don’t list each ingredient and try to avoid foods with a glaze, crispy coating or creamy dipping sauce. If it’s a special occasion—and you’ve planned the rest of the day accordingly—have one drink (12-ounce beer, 4-ounce dry red or white wine, or cocktail with 1.5 ounces of liquor), split an appetizer or have the smallest dessert on the menu (and share it if possible).
4. Don’t Procrastinate
If you work through the week and have time to meal prep on the weekend, great! But if your weekends, too, can be a bit unpredictable, a little planning ahead can save you from making poor game-time decisions.
Always keep eggs, cheese, whole grain bread and a few veggies on hand to whip up a quick omelet or egg sandwich. Also spend a little time on Saturday and Sunday to meal plan. Try preparing a few make-ahead meals to eat throughout the week. Map out your meals, snacks and recipes for the whole week, not just a day or two. Then do all your shopping before your busy work week begins. You’ll thank yourself later.
5. Extra, Extra—Also Free!
You know the egg, cheese and veggie omelet you ate yesterday? With 2 tablespoons of salsa, 1 tablespoon of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice, you can use the same ingredients to make huevos rancheros today.
How so? Salsa and sour cream are Extras and lime juice is a Free Food on South Beach Diet. Each “Extra” should be 10 to 35 calories and contain no more than three grams of net carbs per serving. Limit your Extras to three each day. Free foods are unlimited; enjoy as much as you like. Herbs (Free), cream (Extra), mustards (Free) and vinegar (Free) are the foundation of endless sauces.
6. Old Habits Die Hard
How does your mom—or your grandma—fix you a plate? There’s probably a big slab of meat, piles of potatoes and a scoop of veggies, right? One of the biggest things you need to learn when you’re cooking for yourself is portion control. Mom may have good intentions but her order isn’t quite right.
The largest food portion on your plate should be Non-Starchy Veggies followed by a 3-oz serving of a Protein and a half-cup of a Good Carb. What does that look like? Measure out each serving until you get used to seeing it and trade your 11” or 12” dinner plate for a salad plate so the food looks more plentiful on it.
Harvard Health conducted research that has shown eating with chopsticks can slow you down while you eat, which gives your body a better shot of getting the “I’m full, stop eating” message across. You can also avoid the temptation to eat seconds by leaving your food (however impressive it may be) in the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind.
7. Variety Is Key
Have you mastered roasted broccoli? Maybe grilled chicken breast? Terrific! Just don’t stop there. You need to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and more to get all the vitamins and nutrition your body needs from food. The good news is branching out is easier than you think.
Virtually any vegetable can be roasted. Try carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant or artichokes: Coat with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees (or so). Then try grilling salmon, tilapia or a sirloin steak. Sure, the times and temperatures vary from food to food but the concepts are the same, and you’ll get better with every attempt.
A great way to start trying new ingredients is to pick seasonal items. In the middle of summer when farmers’ market produce is at its peak of freshness, buy it up and get cooking.
8. Try Something New
Sure, you can eat the same grilled chicken and broccoli every night. But what fun is that? Sooner or later, you’ll get bored of the taste and reach for something less healthy.
Don’t be afraid to have some fun in the kitchen and try something new! It can help with adding variety to your diet, keeping things interesting and preventing boredom. Make it a goal to try out one new recipe each week. It doesn’t have to be something difficult to prepare, just something different to try. Peruse the Recipe section on The Palm to find tons of creative and inspired recipes that fit into your low-carb meal plan.
Need some in-kitchen training? Watch some cooking shows on television, ask the butcher or seafood clerk at the supermarket for guidance or better yet, enroll in a cooking class or two. It could be a fun experience to do it with your spouse or friend. If that friend (or another) has more cooking expertise than you, you can also bring the class to your kitchen!