South Beach

While some say it works, others caution it doesnt promote balanced eating.
Miamis South Beach is famous for tanned, toned bodies and known as a sort of national Mecca for the health and fashion-conscious.

So it seems to make sense that a diet named after this sunny spot would rise to the tops of the best-seller lists, enticing out-of-shape, overweight bodies everywhere with visions of bikinis and bulky muscles dancing in their heads.

Cardiologist Arthur Agatston wrote the book The South Beach Diet after years of searching for a heart-healthy diet his patients would be able to follow and stick with for life. But it has become a hit with more than just the cardiac-concerned.

Cathy Boyd of Shrewsbury tried the diet after a member of Bulldog Gym in New Freedom, where she works as a manager, brought in a magazine article about it in May.
I think its a good diet to get you motivated and started eating right, she says.

Boyd lost 6 pounds during the first of the diets three phases and has shed 13 pounds in all since starting the diet. Youre not hungry with it, she says. I learned from years and years of trying to maintain my weight that you should never deprive yourself of a treat. I did cheat a little, but I was just very careful with it.

Now, Boyd no longer sticks strictly to the diet, but keeps its principles in the back of her mind. I used to munch on carrots all the time, but I cut back because I did not realize they had so many carbs in them.

Carbohydrates are the focus of this diet, but unlike the popular Atkins Diet, which bans them completely, The South Beach Diet preaches the difference between good and bad carbs, as well as good and bad fats.

White sugar, white flour, and processed foods are the enemies, while whole foods and desserts are encouraged.

Jeff Gochoco, general manager for two Golds Gyms in York, says The South Beach Diet is one of the better diets hes seen. Its a lot less stringent and more humane, he says. Thats what you need so people can stick with it.

During the first two weeks, or the first phase, of the diet, carbohydrates are eliminated. Then, during the second and third phases, neither of which have specified durations, the good carbs slowly come back.

Gochoco agrees that many people eat way too many refined carbohydrates which promotes insulin resistance. The first phase of the diet is like a two-week shock to your body to remove all that; so you have a higher sensitivity to insulin and you burn it faster.

Joyce Volkers, 36, of North York trains with Gochoco and hopes to compete in a bodybuilding competition next summer. He suggested the diet as a way for her to lose 10 to 15 pounds and firm up. I think it will really be a breeze, she says.

John Kerchner, a personal trainer and owner of Unique physique Fitness Center in Springettsbury Township, says he has his doubts about The South Beach Diet; he sees it simply as a repackaging of the Atkins diet.

When you take carbs out, youre eating less, he says. It all comes down to energy in versus energy out.
Dietitians have their doubts about most new fad diets and tend to encourage balanced eating, rather than cutting out one food group or eating at the extreme corners of the food pyramid.

Miriam Derrick, dietitian at York Hospital, says she worries that The South Beach Diet touts it will work with or without exercise. Weight loss has to be a combination of a healthy diet and exercise exercise is a very important component, she says.

She is also concerned that people may try the diet without consulting their doctor first. Avoiding carbs for two weeks might not be the best thing for everybody, she says.

Julie Stefanski, chief dietitian at Memorial Hospital, says the diet incorporates many basic tenants of good nutrition, such as eating whole foods and cooking meals rather than eating from vending machines and fast-food restaurants.

And, she understands the appeal. They want to look like a South Beach model, she says.

* * *

Surprise South Beach Mashed potatoes

4 cups cauliflower florets
1 ounce I Cant Believe Its Not Butter! spray
1 ounce Land olakes Gourmet Fat-Free half-and-half
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
Steam or microwave the cauliflower until soft. puree in a food processor, adding the butter spray and half-and-half to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Source: The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

* * *

Chocolate-Dipped Apricots

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
24 dried apricots
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Microwave the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Dip the apricots halfway into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off. place the apricots onto waxed paper. Sprinkle the pistachios over the chocolate-covered portions of the apricots. place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set. Serves 8.

Source: The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

* * *

Oatmeal pancake

cup old-fashioned oatmeal
cup low-fat cottage cheese (or tofu)
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon nutmeg
process oatmeal, cottage cheese, egg whites, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg in a blender until smooth. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add the batter and cook over medium heat until both sides are lightly browned. If desired, top the pancake with a low-sugar syrup of your choice. Serves 1.

Source: The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

* * *

Vegetable Quiche Cups To Go

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
cup liquid egg substitute
cup shredded reduced-fat cheese
cup diced green bell peppers
cup diced onions
3 drops hot-pepper sauce (optional)
Microwave the spinach for 2 minutes on high. Drain the excess liquid. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups. Spray the cups with cooking spray. Combine the egg substitute, cheese, peppers, onions and spinach in a bowl. Mix well. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
The quiche cups can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Any combination of appropriate vegetables and reduced-fat cheeses may be used. Serves 6.

Source: The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

Reach Jennifer Vogelsong at 771-2034 or


Here are sample meal plans for each of the diets three phases:

phase One

6 ounce vegetable juice cocktail
2 Vegetable Quiche Cups To Go

Decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute

Midmorning snack:

1 part-skim mozzarella cheese stick

Sliced grilled chicken breast on romaine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette or low-sugar prepared dressing
Sugar-free flavored gelatin dessert
Midafternoon snack:

Celery stuffed with one wedge Laughing Cow Light Cheese

Grilled salmon with rosemary
Steamed asparagus
Tossed salad (mixed greens, cucumbers, green peppers, cherry tomatoes)
Olive oil and vinegar to taste, or 2 tablespoons low-sugar prepared dressing

Vanilla ricotta creme

phase Two

Oatmeal pancake
Decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
Midmorning snack:
Small Granny Smith apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
Chicken and raspberry spinach salad
Midafternoon snack:
4 ounce non-fat, sugar-free yogurt
Meat loaf

Italian-style spaghetti squash

Strawberries with Splenda (or sugar substitute of your choice) or dollop of fat-free frozen whipped topping
phase Three
Egg-white omelet with salsa
1 slice multigrain bread
Decaffeinated coffee or decaffeinated tea with nonfat milk and sugar substitute
Open-faced ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on rye
1 fresh apple
Broiled sirloin steak
Creamed spinach
Surprise South Beach Mashed potatoes
Fresh mozzarella-tomato salad

Chocolate-Dipped Apricots

Source: The South Beach Diet, by Arthur Agatston, M.D

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