The "beach" we're returning to this coming week is the South Beach (SB) Diet plan. The basics of this plan was detailed in an previous post, so I won't repeat them here.
Our reasons are much the same as before. We need to alter our eating habits, especially after our anniversary road trip when we ate out every day. We have all the SB cookbooks with lots of recipes. This past weekend we stocked up on veggies, chicken, and seafood.
The SB diet, started by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston in the 1990s, focuses on controlling insulin levels and the benefits of unrefined slow carbohydrates (whole wheat, brown rice, bran, beans, nuts, vegetables) vs. fast carbs (breads, sugar, fruits, starchy vegetables).
Fast carbs rapidly break down into sugar. If eaten regularly, they keep blood sugar elevated and can lead to weight gain. Slow carbs are higher in fiber and provide the body with energy over a longer period without a rapid elevation in blood sugar. Another benefit is you won't feel hungry as often. In fairness to fast carbs, they're beneficial after exercising. According to some nutritionists, a rapid rise in blood sugar restores glycogen (sugars stored for energy) in the muscles and liver if eaten 2 hours afterwards.
No, we haven't avoided processed foods (as we thought)
We didn't consider ourselves to be processed food junkies. There's no hidden chips, cookies, canned soups, instant mixes in the pantry, no frozen or microwave foods in the freezer, and we avoid fast foods. That was before I fully understood about them.
Online reading was an eye-opener. I knew that the definition of processed food included ones packaged in boxes, cans, bags. It also applies to meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives: sausages, bacon (a breakfast favorite), ham, salami, pepperoni (pizza favorite).
Besides going through complex manufacturing, processed foods usually have additives, artificial flavorings and "non-natural" ingredients.
Is something processed or not?
Check the ingredients; the rule is: if it's a longer list, the more the food is processed. These foods likely contain ingredients you can't recognize or ones you wouldn't have in your kitchen. To eat healthier, advocates advise shopping in the outer grocery food aisles, vegetables, dairy meats, seafood. That alone doesn't always ensure non-processed foods.
That said not all processed foods are off-limits. Minimally processed foods like bagged spinach, salads, pre-cut vegetables, nuts and others are packaged for convenience and can still be healthy. Others include foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness, such as canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables and canned tuna.
Processed foods can be beneficial. Milk and juices can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Canned fruit (packed in its own juice) is an option when fresh fruit is unavailable. The challenge is to distinguish between good-for-you lightly processed vs.heavily processed foods; these are foods not recognized as food in its original form (potato chips, crackers) or non-naturally occurring foods (soda, donuts, cookies, candy).
Not only are we now reading
You may have heard of "clean eating." This buzzword term usually refers to how a food is produced. It means avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your eating on whole foods. In other words, farm = clean vs. manufacturing facility = not so much since these are foods have more "steps" along the way.
"Clean eating" is not about eating more or less of certain foods, but being "mindful" (another buzz term these days) of the food's path between its origin and the plate. It's eating whole or "real" foods that are not or are minimally processed, refined, and handled, keeping them as close to their natural form as possible.
It's not so much a diet, but an eating lifestyle: "If you can’t read it, don’t eat it. If it sounds complex, or like a word out of chemistry class, chances are it is."
This past weekend we used foods from the freezer and pantry before starting on the SB plan: Country style ribs with homemade BBQ sauce and sweet potato salad with Greek yogurt and fresh veggies. (Recipes to come in a future post).
Do you have an eating or diet plan you follow?