Eating Sweets on the South Beach Diet

Chocolate and Fudge Popsicles
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If you have a sweet tooth, the first thing you probably wondered after deciding to start the South Beach Diet is: Are any desserts allowed? You already know you'll be getting rid of pastries, candy, ice cream, sweetened juices, and the like. So what's left?

Certain sweet treats and sweeteners can be enjoyed in each phase of this diet—but probably not the kind you're used to eating. It will take some getting used to, but usually, these foods can satisfy a craving and keep you away from the chocolate chip cookies.

And another piece of good news: In eliminating high-sugar, high-carb foods, your palate will begin to change and likely become more attuned to the more subtle sweetness in natural, healthy foods, such as fruit (however, fruit is excluded in phase 1).

South Beach Diet Phase 1

Phase 1 is the most restrictive phase of the South Beach Diet. This phase emphasizes foods that are low in saturated fats and carbohydrates, including high-fiber vegetables, lean protein sources (eggs and egg whites, seafood, skinless poultry, lean cuts of beef and pork, soy foods), and fat-free and low-fat dairy products. No fruit or grains are allowed.

In phase 1, sweets are limited to a total of 75 calories worth of any of the following sugar-free treats. So, not much. The limit is partly so that people don't overdo the eating of sugar alcohols, which can cause digestive issues for many people, especially if eaten in excess. If you're the type that really needs something sweet at the end of a meal or at least once a day, the phase 1-approved sweeteners will be your saving grace.

Most sweeteners, such as sugar and honey, are off the table on the South Beach Diet—however, you can still sweeten drinks and food with the following sweeteners. Of these, Stevia and monk fruit are speculated to be the least likely to cause ill health effects among researchers, so you may want to stick with those. Some studies show that acesulfame K, Nutrasweet, saccharin, and sucralose, specifically, may contribute to mood disorders, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers.

  • Acesulfame K (Sunnette and others)
  • Nutrasweet (Equal)
  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Stevia
  • Sugar Alcohols
  • Monk Fruit
  • Agave Nectar (one tablespoon per day)

These desserts and sweet-tasting foods are allowed in Phase One of the South Beach Diet:

  • Candies - sugar-free hard candies only
  • Chocolate powder - no added sugar
  • Cocoa powder, unsweetened baking type
  • Fructose
  • Fudge pops, no sugar added
  • Gelatin - sugar-free
  • Gum - sugar-free
  • Jams and jellies - sugar-free
  • Popsicles - sugar-free
  • Syrups - sugar-free, such as Maple Grove Sugar-Free Maple Syrup and Da Vinci or Torani Sugar-Free Syrups

You could also think about turning a fat-free plain yogurt or cottage cheese into a dessert by stirring in cocoa powder and a spoonful of sugar-free jam or one of the sweeteners above, such as Stevia.

South Beach Diet Phase 2

Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet is a bit easier than phase 1 when it comes to getting your sugar fix because you're allowed some more freedom. Rather than simply following a restricted list of foods, you start to add back some high nutrient, high-fiber, low glycemic carbohydrate into your diet, such as whole grains and fruit. You can add up to two to three servings of fruit—and this is a great and healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Berries have the lowest sugar content of all fruit so they are an especially good choice when you reach phase two. Consider making a berry dessert with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries, and topping it with your own low-carb whipped cream.

Frozen bananas can be used to make "nice" cream; all you have to do is slice a banana, pop it in the freezer, and blend the frozen pieces with your choice of milk, plus any additional ingredients you desire, such as unsweetened cocoa powder and peanut butter for peanut butter chocolate "nice" cream, frozen mango and pineapple for a tropical "nice" cream, or frozen strawberries for a strawberry banana "nice" cream. You could also top it with crumbled nuts or cherries at the end. 

You can also add the following in phase 2: 

  • Occasional small amounts of dark semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 serving of pudding - fat-free and sugar-free

It is very important to pay attention to your own body’s reactions to adding in more carbs. If a food sets up cravings or weight gain, back off and try something less glycemic. If you feel fuzzy-headed or lower in energy, ditto. Weight loss typically slows to 1 to 2 pounds per week during Phase Two.

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