South Beach Phase 1 – Real Food Edition


If you’ve read my blog for a hot minute you know I’m pretty health conscious (although I do love the occasional sweets!).  Longtime readers may remember that I used the South Beach Diet back in college to lose 50 pounds and jump start my healthy lifestyle, and that I’ve basically followed those SB principles for the past six years.  If you’ve been around in the last six months, you know that we took our healthy lifestyle one step further and started eating a real food diet – natural, local, organic, minimally-processed food only.

Over Christmas I indulged more than I should a tiny bit and so decided to do two weeks of Phase 1 at the beginning of the year to get over the sugar cravings and get back on track.  However, this was the first time that I’d done South Beach since we started eating real food this past summer.  Although many of the principles are the same, there were some things that I ate on Phase 1 in the past that are not “real” and I didn’t want to eat this time around.  So I went about trying to combine the two into a plan that meets both South Beach and real food.

Since some of the most popular search terms that brings people to this blog are related to South Beach, I think it’s a pretty safe guess that people are searching for information about South Beach.  I like to share what I’ve learned.

Now, if you’re the type that wants to follow Phase 1 to the letter exactly as the book states, then this post is not for you.  And if you’re a real food enthusiast that scoffs at cutting out carbs or restricting fruit, this post is not for you either.  But if you’re wanting to give South Beach a try while also eating a real food type diet, then this post IS for you.

Carrying on.

I knew going in to it that one of the hardest things would be my sweet treats.  My biggest purpose for doing Phase 1 was to clean my system of sugar.  In the past, I would eat lots of sugar free treats (no sugar added fudgesicles, no sugar added mochas or hot chocolate, coffee with Splenda, etc.) but eating real food means not eating fake sugar substitutes, which rules out all those options.  And South Beach restricts all sugar in Phase 1, so that ruled out honey or pure maple syrup that I’d used to sweeten things while eating real food. Yikes…what’s a sweets-loving girl to do?

Eat peanut butter, that’s what.  Seriously, I couldn’t think of a better option so I just used peanut butter as my “dessert”.  Since I couldn’t have fruit either, and that’s my preferred method of eating peanut butter (I’ve tried it on celery but I just don’t like it!), I mostly would just eat a spoonful or two as my treat.

Something else I anticipated being a challenge was what I could dip veggies in.  In the past I’d eat tons of raw veggies with Ranch dressing on Phase 1.  But since pre-packaged ranch isn’t an option anymore, I was a little stumped.  One choice was to use homemade ranch, which I’ve made and used in the past.  It doesn’t taste quite the same, but it’s still pretty good.  I also found a hummus recipe (tutorial coming soon!) that I love, so I made a ton of that and ate it with my vegetables.

Another big difference was with my dairy products.  South Beach doesn’t advocate for low fat products except for dairy (milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt), but with our real foods switch we’ve decided to eat whole fat dairy products.  So when I did Phase 1 this time, I still drank whole milk, ate full-fat sour cream, and ate full-fat cheese.  Same thing with bacon – South Beach suggests turkey bacon, but that’s not a real food so I’ve been eating regular pork bacon.

Enough rambling.  I’ve already posted a fairly comprehensive list of ideas for Phase 1 foods here so I’m not going to re-post that all here.  Most of the items on that list (minus the sweet treats) are easily adapted to be made into real foods so check it out and change it to what works for you.  But just so you can get an idea, here are some examples of what I ate on Phase 1 while still sticking to my real food principles.

Breakfast: I’m boring with breakfast – the same thing every day.  I also don’t want a huge breakfast, just enough to hold me for a few hours.  I mostly ate a fried egg (organic, local), a piece of pork bacon (organic, local), and a cup of organic whole milk (from a local dairy).  Quiche cups would also be a good options (using regular bacon).

Lunch: Soups, soups, soups!  Most lunches were salad (organic lettuce from a local farm), homemade dressing, some cheese (local), and soup (chili, split pea soup, white chili…all adapted to be more “real” by using dried beans instead of canned, homemade chicken broth instead of canned, and local organic meat).

Snacks: roasted chick peas, hummus (recipe coming soon!) and veggies, Mexican pecans, peanut butter, plain nuts.

Supper: More soups, taco salad (organic lettuce, local organic ground beef, homemade taco seasoning, homemade salsa, crockpot refried beans, organic avocado, local cheese, and sour cream), organic chicken or fish with vegetables (kale chipsparmesan lemon basil broccoli, and green beans are some favorites), and stuffed peppers (organic beef, dried beans, organic bell peppers, homemade tomato sauce and taco seasoning)

Sweet Treats: Sorry, no good solution for this one.  Just try to eat a non-sweet snack that you really enjoy (like yummy peanut butter!)

So like I said, it’s not 100% South Beach Phase 1, but it accomplishes the overall principle (cutting out sugar to get rid of the cravings) while still eating all real food.  Also, remember that there are tons of options…many, many recipes can be made into real food recipes with a little tweaking so be creative and see what you can come up with.

If you’re just starting your South Beach and/or real foods journey…good luck and enjoy!  You won’t regret it :)

my weight loss tips roundup


I don’t profess to know everything there is to know about weight loss, and I especially don’t pretend to follow all the tips that I do know (if I did I’d be much skinnier than I am now), however, I have had some success in the weight loss department in the past.

As the new year approaches many of us (including myself) are thinking about trying to eat healthier, detox from the holidays, and/or lose weight.  Since one of the most popular search terms that brings people to my blog is “South Beach Diet”, I figure there are many people out there with questions.  So I thought I’d round up all my posts about dieting, healthy eating, etc. into one place.

Start by reading about my weight loss journey: the background, the diet, the exercise, the results, the maintenance, the struggles, and the future.

If you’re interested in going with South Beach or some other similar low-carb plan, you might want to check out my posts about my South Beach phase 1 meal plans and following South Beach while eating out.  You should also look at my recipes – they aren’t all South Beach friendly, but many of them are (and I’ve included a note at the end of the South Beach friendly recipes that tells you which phase they would go with).

If you travel a lot make sure to read my tips on how to eat healthy while travelling and how to exercise while travelling.

Some other helpful posts for your journey toward healthy eating include tips for prepping your food in advancemaking sure you know how to find the best weight for your body, and the heart rate monitor that I use and love.

South Beach has been my diet lifestyle of choice for the past 7 or 8 years, but this year Michael and I took it a step further and decided to move away from highly processed food.  We did what we called a real food challenge, where we ate only local, organic, non-processed food for 100 days.  After we completed the challenge, we decided to maintain that way of eating with exceptions for special occasions.  You can read about our journey with that here: the challenge details, week 1, week 2, week 3, the results after one month, tips on eating real food while travelling, the busy girl’s guide to eating a real food diet, and the results after 100 days.

Like I said, I don’t know everything and I don’t follow these diets strictly, but I have had success with South Beach and eating real food in the past and it helps me to have all the resources in one post so I can reference them when I’m trying to get back on the wagon (aka right now).  I hope this helps you, too!

chicken salad

I love chicken salad!  You know, the kind with the grapes and pecans?  So yummy!  I don’t love chicken salad that has celery or is loaded with mayonnaise, though.   Let me share with you my lighter, celery-free version of chicken salad.  Instead of using all mayonnaise, I mix mayo and Greek yogurt – the yogurt has less calories and much more protein, and it kind of “stretches” the mayo so that there is still that taste (since I used a little) but you don’t have to use as much as you normally would.

what you need: chicken, grapes, mayo, Greek yogurt, and pecans

cook and shred your chicken

add mayo

and then add Greek yogurt

halve grapes and add them

and finally, add the pecan pieces



  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or cubed if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s with canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Cook chicken and shred or cube.  Let cool.  Add mayo, yogurt, grapes, pecan pieces, salt, and pepper and mix well.  Keep refrigerated.

Makes 6 servings of 1/2 cup each; 200 calories per serving.  This is South Beach Phase 2.

I love taking chicken salad for my lunch.  You can eat it on crackers, on a bed of lettuce, or with bread/pita to make a sandwich, but I just eat mine with a fork.  This is also a great dish to take to a potluck or baby/wedding shower.

healthy whole wheat lasagna

I think that many people consider Italian food to be pretty unhealthy when it comes to make choices of what to eat.  And I agree that it’s pretty hard to find pasta in a restaurant that is fairly healthy or low calorie.  However, it’s pretty easy to make pasta at home that won’t blow your plans to eat healthy.  I’ve already shared my spaghetti saucebaked ziti, homemade whole wheat pizza dough, pizza bites, and pizza grilled cheese – all healthy, low calorie, Italian food options.  Today I’m going to share with you my lasagna recipe.  It’s my Mom’s that I’ve tweaked a little to suit me and it’s delicious!

What you need: lasagna noodles, ground something (we used turkey, the recipe says ground beef, whatever you want), ricotta cheese, onion, tomato sauce, tomato juice, pepper, garlic, mozzarella cheese, and oregano (not pictured)

cook noodles (hint: don’t cook them the full time that the box says because they will cook more when you bake the lasagna and you don’t want them to be mushy!)

chop the onion, brown the meat with the onion

once “browned” (turkey turns white rather than brown), start adding the rest of the ingredients

tomato sauce and tomato juice


garlic powder

black pepper

let the sauce simmer; once it’s done start assembling the lasagna

start with a layer of meat sauce – I just put enough on the bottom to keep the noodles from sticking

then noodles

followed by ricotta cheese

then mozzarella

and meat sauce (I had already started the next layer of noodles before I remembered to take a picture – whoops!)

continue layering, top the final layer of noodles with mozzarella

bake the lasagna



  • 1 pound ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef, etc.)
  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 to 1 cup onion, chopped (more or less to suit your tastes – Michael doesn’t like onion so I don’t use much)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 12 oz tomato juice (2 little cans)
  • 15 oz low fat ricotta cheese (Mom always used cottage cheese but I like the smoothness of the ricotta – either will work fine)
  • 2 bags mozzarella cheese (I use the low fat or part skim – I can’t remember what the bag says exactly)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder


Prepare noodles according to directions on the package, but cook a minute or two less than instructed since they will cook again when you bake the lasagna.  While noodles are cooking, brown the meat with the onions.  Once meat is browned and onions are cooked, add the tomato sauce, tomato juice, and spices.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  The begin layering your ingredients – I do sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, noodles, and a final layer of mozzarella.  It’s no big deal if you layer yours a little differently, it will still taste the same.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Makes 12 servings at 273 calories per serving.  This recipe is South Beach Phase 2.

This is also a great make ahead meal.  You can cook the noodles and sauce, and layer all the ingredients, then store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook – then just pop it in the oven (it might take a little longer than 30 minutes since it had been in the fridge) to heat it up.  Easy and yummy!

bacon ranch chicken pasta

I’ve got a new recipe for you…found on Pinterest of course, the original recipe is from here.  (you should check out her website – so far this is the only recipe of her’s I’ve made but she has a lot of other recipes that look super yummy and healthy)  I have to say, Michael didn’t care for it but I wasn’t surprised because it has sour cream and ranch in the recipe and he doesn’t like either of those things. It’s not one of my all time favorite dishes but I definitely thought it was good.  It’s also easy!

you need: chicken, bacon, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, garlic powder, dry ranch mix, and pasta

mix the cream of chicken soup,

sour cream,

garlic powder,

and ranch mix together

 mix in the bacon

put the chicken in the crockpot and pour the mixture over it

once it’s cooked, shred the chicken and mix it all up

cook the pasta

serve the bacon ranch chicken over pasta

Recipe (from here)


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 packet ranch dry mix
  • 4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used turkey bacon)
  • pasta (I used the swirly kind just because we already had it buy you can use whatever)


Mix the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, ranch mix, garlic powder, and bacon together.  Place the chicken breasts in a crock pot and cover with the mixture.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  When cooked, shred the chicken and mix it in with the sauce.  Cook pasta according to directions on the box; serve the bacon ranch chicken over the pasta.

This recipe is South Beach Phase 2.

We originally divided the bacon ranch chicken into 4 portions, at 270 calories each (not counting pasta) but I thought that was too much and later switched it to 6 portions at 180 calories each.  I used 1/2 cup of pasta (115 calories) + 1 serving of the chicken mixture (180 calories), which made the whole thing 295 calories.

french toast

Last week we ate with my Uncle Don at Cracker Barrel.  I got french toast, which I never get, and it was delicious.  When we found ourselves with a lot of eggs this week I decided that I wanted to make my own (healthier) french toast.  It’s so easy and super delicious!

you need: bread, eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sweetener, butter, and syrup

crack the egg into a cup/bowl

add milk

scramble it up real good

add vanilla

then sweetener

and cinnamon; stir it up

pour the mixture out onto a plate or shallow dish

dip bread into the mixture

then flip it over and do the other side; repeat with other pieces as desired

put the bread in a hot skillet, cook until golden brown then flip and cook the other side

sprinkle with more cinnamon, powdered sugar, etc.

add butter and syrup and enjoy!


Ingredients (f0r one serving, increase as needed)

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread (I used Nature’s Own Honey Wheat, 70 calories per slice, because that’s what Michael eats at lunch and that’s what we happened to have in the cabinet)
  • 1 egg
  • milk (approximately 2 TBSP but I don’t really measure, I just eyeball it)
  • vanilla (approximately 2 tsp, again I don’t measure)
  • sweetener (I use the off brand of Splenda, 1-2 TBSP depending on how sweet you like it and what sweetener you use…yep, still not measuring)
  •  cinnamon (1-2 tsp, depends on how cinnamon-y you like stuff)
  • butter (I use Smart Balance)
  • syrup (I use sugar free)
  • any other topping you might want (strawberries, powdered sugar, blueberry syrup, whipped cream)


Mix egg, milk, vanilla, Splenda, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Make sure to mix well (if you don’t you might have clumps of egg white that stick together and make a big eggy blob on your french toast, yuck).  Pour the egg mixture onto a plate or in a shallow dish.  Dip both sides of each piece of bread in the egg mixture.  Lay bread in a heated skillet; cook until golden brown then flip and cook the other side.  Top with more cinnamon, sugar, other toppings, butter, syrup, etc. and enjoy!

This recipe is South Beach Phase 2/3.  Using the Nature’s Own Honey Wheat bread, Splenda, Smart Balance, and sugar free syrup, this comes out to be 260 calories for one serving (2 pieces of french toast).

know your numbers (and do your research!) {Works for Me Wednesday}

It is all too easy to get hung up on the number on the scale.  Trust me, I know.  I’ve been bouncing around the same number for the past 15 days even though I’m eating right and exercising.  And that’s frustrating.  But it’s not all about the number on the scale.

I hadn’t even really thought to talk about this until I had an interesting experience at the gym yesterday (more about that in a sec) that made me feel the need to share.  I don’t claim to be a doctor or have it all right, but I try to make sure my information is accurate.

So, some other numbers to know:

1. Your body mass index (BMI).  You can calculate it using this formula: (weight in pounds/height in inches squared ) x 703 (which I made my students do mwah ha ha…come on, it was math class!) or you can easily calculate it yourself here.  This is not the most accurate tool in the world because the only thing the formula takes into account are your height and weight – so a very active, health conscious 150 pound person will have the same BMI as someone that’s 150 pounds but doesn’t work out and eats junk (assuming they are the same height), however one is probably a lot healthier than the other.  However, it’s still gives a fairly good idea of where you fall – before I started getting serious about my health I fell into the obese category, soon after I started following the South Beach diet and exercising my BMI feel into the “normal weight” category, just recently I’ve gained a few (that I’m trying super hard to lose!) so right now I’m in the overweight category.

2. Your waist circumference.  A high waist circumference indicates too much abdominal fat and puts you at a risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and and high cholesterol.  For men, a high waist circumference is anything larger than 40 inches and for women it’s larger than 35 inches (information found here).  Use a flexible tape measure (I got mine from the sewing section at Walmart) to measure with.  The exact method/place of how/where to measure is something I haven’t quite figured out…do you measure at the smallest part?  The largest part?  I’m not sure. This source says to start at the top of the hipbone and bring it all around level with your navel.  This video says not to worry about where your hipbones are and to measure where your belly button is.  The top of my hipbones are level with my belly button so I think either method would work for me but that may not be the case for everyone.  Any health/fitness experts able to enlighten us?

3. Your body fat percentage.  To find this number you may have to visit a doctor or a gym, although there are also bathroom scales that measure body fat % (I’d be interested to know how accurate those are – I’ve been using the same cheapo scale that I bought the very first week I started South Beach years ago and it still works great, seems to be accurate as the numbers match when I weigh at the doctor – but someday I might like to have a fancier scale that measures body fat % too).  Anyway, I think body fat percentage is a much more accurate assessment of your health/fitness than the scale or even BMI.

Here’s why you need to do your research and why I mentioned my interesting experience at the gym.  Yesterday I showed up at the gym for my fitness class.  Our instructor told us that the gym was offering free health screenings (blood pressure, BMI, and body fat percentage).  I always have great BP and I can figure out my BMI on my own, but I was interested in my body fat percentage so I went to do that after my workout.  First thing I found out was that my reading was probably not going to be very accurate because I had just worked out (apparently that makes a difference) and that the measurement tool could measure 6% above or below my actual percentage, so a pretty large margin.  But I went ahead and did it anyway.  The little calculator thing said my % was 27.8%.  Again, that could be anywhere from 21.8% to 33.8% (or maybe even more/less since I had just worked out…who knows) because of the margin of error.  I asked the guy who did my reading what an ideal body fat percentage would be for someone my age and my height – he said less than 20%, ideally 15%.

That didn’t feel right to me, I couldn’t bring an exact number to mind but 15% seemed way lower than what I remembered from past information I had gotten.  When I got home I did a little searching and kept finding this chart and other charts that were similar:


There are some that are more specific based on age but I liked the simplistic information that this one presented.  Basically, average body fat percentage for a woman (women have more body fat then men) is 25-31%.  If my reading from yesterday was in fact correct, then I’m at an average percentage.  Someone who is fit should have a percentage of 21-24%.  However, the 15% body fat that the “trainer” told me was my ideal is at the very low end of the category of body fat that would be considered an athlete.  Like a hardcore athlete.  Now how realistic is that?  Fortunately I did my own bit of research and now plan to shoot for that 21-24% range but no way do I even want to try to get down to 15%!  There’s no telling how much exercise I would have to do and how much chocolate I would have to give up!

(side note: fitness/health people – if I’m totally off base here please let me know!  Am I correct in thinking that 15% body fat is a bit unrealistic and not quite necessary?)

Anyway, I say all that to say this:

1. Don’t put so much emphasis on the scale.  I woke up this morning and my rings were tight – that’s a sign I’m retaining water and the scale reflected that.  So I try to remind myself of that and not get all bent out of shape about it.  Remember that there are other indicators that you are healthy and/or improving your health so try not to let the number on the scale stress you out – it’s just a number (I’m totally preaching to myself here, too)

2. Do your homework!  Find knowledgable professionals to evaluate you and help determine what is a good weight/BMI/body fat percentage for you.  Don’t just assume that what the magazines or the random person at the gym tells you are what’s right for you.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

homemade spaghetti sauce

I gotta tell you I love me some Ragu, but you just can’t beat homemade spaghetti sauce.  I didn’t use to like this growing up because of the “chunks” (the onion and green pepper) but now I love it!  You can thank my mom for the recipe – this is the one she always uses and it is yummylicious.

what’cha need:

ground something (we used ground turkey), tomato sauce, bell pepper (we usually just use green ones but the red, orange, and yellow peppers were on sale this week so we got adventurous and tried a yellow one), onion, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, black pepper, salt

(not pictured) spaghetti squash or spaghetti noodles

put the onions, pepper, and meat in a large-ish pot

cook ’em up

add the tomato sauce and the spices

mix and simmer



  • 12 oz whole wheat spaghetti noodles (or one small spaghetti squash)
  • 1.5 lb ground beef, chicken, or turkey (or deer…or buffalo…whatever floats your boat)
  • 1/2 cup onion, onion
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (Mom’s recipe only calls for 1/4 cup but I like to use more)
  • 2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


Cook ground beef (chicken, turkey,…), onion, and pepper until meat is brown (or white if you use turkey/chicken) and onion is tender. Drain/remove fat if needed.  Stir in all the remaining ingredients (except noodles): tomato sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, and garlic powder.  Cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring often.  Cook spaghetti as directed on package (or if you’re using spaghetti squash, see instructions here).  Serve with sauce over hot spaghetti.  Top with parmesan, if desired.

The sauce itself is South Beach Phase 1.  If served with spaghetti squash it is still SB Phase 1, but if served with whole wheat spaghetti noodles this is SB Phase 2.

prepping food ahead of time {Works for Me Wednesday}

Weight loss update (three weeks down):

This past week was not super spectacular.  It was the first week of Phase 2 and I added in some strawberries as a snack each day – I was really happy to have some fruit!  However I didn’t see a significant loss this week – in fact, my weight went up towards the weekend and then back down.  I’m sure that is a combination of my body plateauing after two good weight loss weeks, hormones, the fact that I really don’t have all that much weight to lose so I’m not going to see huge numbers very often, and the fact that I wasn’t eating super unhealthy before so I don’t have tons of water weight to lose

.  It was really discouraging though because I ate and exercised just like I was supposed to – no cheats – and yet the scale did not reflect that.  It would have been easy to give up but I know that even if the weight isn’t coming off, I’m still eating better and living a healthier lifestyle – no need to go running back to the junk food.  Anyway, my weight loss for this week was 0.4 pounds for a total of 7.4 pounds lost since I started on January 2.

Now for my Works for Me Wednesday tip:

For me, the key to success on a diet is being prepared.  If I don’t have a game plan in mind then I’m less likely to make healthy choices.  Things like checking a restaurant’s menu and nutrition facts online before we go out so I can make a good choice before I’m really hungry and the tempting bread basket has been set in front of me.  Or packing lots of healthy snacks when I’m traveling, out shopping, at work, or basically anytime I won’t be home or have access to good choices.  Taking workout clothes and an exercise video or exercise equipment with me when I travel.  Making sure to bring some healthy dishes to potluck meals or family dinners so I know there will be at least a few things that are good options.  These are just a few things you can do to keep your healthy lifestyle on track.

Another thing that I do to be prepared (actually, I don’t do this as much as I should and I really need to take my own advice) is to do any snack/food prep that I can as soon as I get home from the grocery.  If I wait until I’m hungry before peeling and chopping a cucumber or cooking up a batch of chick peas then it’s very likely that I won’t want to take the time and will grab something less healthy instead.  However, if I have snacks already made and in the fridge/pantry then I can quickly grab them when I get hungry.

For example, I’ve been having big salads pretty much every day for lunch since I started back on South Beach consistently.  It was taking me a while each day to fix each thing that I put on my salads so I finally spent a few minutes prepping a bunch at once so I could just grab stuff out of each container and throw it on my salad.  Some of those things include:

washing and tearing up lettuce (I usually buy baby spinach already pre-bagged but I like to buy the big leaves of Romaine or other crunchy lettuce because it’s cheaper that way plus sometimes I like to have the big leaves to wrap tuna or lunch meat inside)

rinsing chick peas (I love just plain chick peas on my salad)

boiling and removing the shells from eggs

washing and chopping tomatoes, radishes, snap peas, carrots, etc.

Then since I have all the salad fixings all ready in the fridge I can quickly build a nutrient packed salad!

Just in case you wondered what I like on my salad…I change it up all the time and put all kinds of random things on there, but what I’ve been having recently is: a mix of baby spinach and Romaine lettuce, chick peas, cucumber, radishes, snap peas, tomato, a boiled egg, and some O’Charley’s honey mustard dressing.  Divine.  I don’t really care for cheese on my salad because I don’t feel like I can really taste it so I have a cheese stick on the side instead.  Other things that I like (but haven’t necessarily had recently) are poppyseed dressing, ranch dressing, grilled chicken, shredded chicken, some chopped up lunch meat, tuna, almond slivers, and pecan pieces.

Also, this trick is wonderful for things like fruit (wash grapes, wash strawberries, cut melons) and nuts (divide into portioned-sized baggies).

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

following South Beach while eating out {Works for Me Wednesday}

Weight loss update: Yesterday (Monday) marked the end of the two weeks of Phase 1/beginning of Phase 2.  We were out of town so I didn’t weigh yesterday morning, but as of this morning I have lost 7 pounds!  Woo hoo!  I have been enjoying my gummy vitamins each morning and look forward to that pretty nail polish soon (not sure what I’m talking about?  read here).  I will be adding in strawberries this week as my first phase 2 food to incorporate back into my diet.

So…eating out.  For many people, this is a diet buster.  However, it’s also something that pops up frequently in our lives and can be hard to avoid.  Here are some tips and guidelines that I try to follow.

First, you might want to look into getting this book if you eat out quite frequently.


The South Beach Diet Dining Guide contains ideas of South Beach friendly meals at many popular restaurants, both fast food and sit down.  This is really nice if you’re still a little uncertain about all the South Beach principles – you can just look up a restaurant and it will give you several options of good, healthy meals.

Personally, I don’t use this book very much anymore.  I pretty much know what I need to eat at all my favorite restaurants and then I have a guideline that helps me if I go to a new restaurant.

My basic guideline goes something like this:

A salad with meat (chicken, shrimp, steak, salmon), dressing (usually ranch) and no croutons (or tortilla strips, fried onions, candied pecans, cranberries…).  Most other toppings (boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, cheese) are fine as well (many SB-ers will ask for no cheese since it’s probably not fat free but I usually go ahead and leave it on – I just like the taste too much!).  Remember that full fat dressing is fine – we want those good fats to help keep us full, and low fat dressing usually have added sugar to help them taste better.  However, you don’t need to eat the whole cereal bowl full of dressing that many restaurants serve alongside their salads – try to use just a little, 1 or 2 tablespoons.


A combination of meat (grilled chicken, fish, steak, grilled shrimp), a side salad (see above note about what to avoid), and a veggie side (asparagus, steamed veggies, or a sweet potato with no sugar (Phase 2) – I use Splenda if it needs it)

If you get one of these two things you should be pretty good to go.  No, restaurant food will not be nearly as healthy as fixing your own food at home, but you can still make a pretty good choice.

We went to Lexington to take care of our house and visit friends this past weekend.  We left Saturday night and came home Monday afternoon.  I ate out for supper Saturday night, lunch Sunday, supper Sunday, and lunch Monday – I followed the guidelines I listed above.  When we got home I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had lost weight over the course of those days, even with eating out as much as I did.

Here some ideas of what I get (or have noticed as good choices) at some of the restaurants that we frequent.

Cracker Barrel (believe it or not, pretty easy to follow SB here):

  • grilled chicken salad, no croutons or crackers, ranch dressing (they serve a TON of dressing, you don’t even need a fourth of it – use sparingly!)
  • grilled chicken dinner with acceptable sides – green beans, pinto beans, side salad, corn (if on phase 1)
  • coffee – I know this isn’t really a meal but Cracker Barrel has great coffee and I usually order some because it’s a treat that I don’t have often, it keeps my mouth busy before my meal comes so I’m not tempted to eat the biscuits/cornbread, and it tricks my body into thinking it gets dessert since I sweeten my coffee

These are just the things that I normally get at Cracker Barrel.  The whole back of the menu is devoted to low carb meals so they offer lots of options (although a cheeseburger with no bun but slathered in cheese and bacon is low carb but not really the best choice).

Also, there are a few breakfast options (SB acceptable breakfasts at restaurants are hard to come by) such as

  • an omelet – I’ve never actually seen this listed on the menu, but every time I’ve asked for it they have made me one so it doesn’t hurt to ask.  I usually get a Western omelet which has bacon, cheese, onions, peppers, and tomatoes
  • whole wheat toast – if you’re on Phase 2 and want some toast, Cracker Barrel has the option of whole wheat toast or sourdough toast – both are fine for Phase 2.  They also offer Promise spread as an alternative for butter, and sugar free jam/jellies.
  • turkey sausage – they offer turkey sausage as an alternative to regular sausage.  Sadly, they don’t offer turkey bacon (Cracker Barrel, if you’re reading this – I would love it if you would offer turkey bacon!)
  •  a meal idea if you are on phase 2 might be eggs, turkey sausage, and some whole wheat toast with sugar free jam/jelly
  • another idea if you are far down the line on phase two/three and want to indulge without too much guilt is to have the french toast made using whole wheat toast and then use sugar free syrup.  It’s still not the best choice since it’s several pieces of bread and I’m sure there’s sugar in the french toast batter stuff, but it’s a way to make it a teeny bit healthier.

Johnny Carino’s:

  • shrimp caesar salad, no croutons (a tip when you order caesar salad: ask for your dressing on the side – it’s usually already mixed up with the lettuce and sometimes there is way more dressing than needed – my salad this weekend was over saturated with dressing)

Texas Roadhouse:

  • grilled chicken salad, no croutons, easy on the dressing
  • bowl of chili and side salad


  • chicken breast with no skin/breading, green beans, corn (if on phase 2), no biscuit


  • chili and side salad


  • redrock grilled shrimp, side salad, substitute asparagus instead of the bed of rice

Off the top of my head, those are the first few restaurants that I can think of.  Some places are harder to find South Beach options than others – I find fast food, Mexican, Chinese/Japanese, and Italian to be the hardest.

Hopefully these guidelines and examples will help you make choices that are a little healthier next time you eat out.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.