Have you noticed that lately the entire country has become obsessed with the South Beach scene? The Hollywood folks were here a few months ago shooting this little flick—2 Fast 2 Furious—you may have heard of it. And right before that, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were spotted all over town working on their new project, Bad Boys 2. There’s no denying it, South Beach is in demand.
So, you ask, what’s the latest hype surrounding the Magic City? Plain and simple, The South Beach Diet, a book by Dr. Arthur Agatston, M.D. (Oh no!) Not another diet book! I know, I know, I’ll be the first to admit being somewhat jaded by the failure of past diets. Say it with me: We’ve been tortured by low-fat, low-carb crappy diets for the last time.
Well, one night I was watching the evening news and they were preparing this fabulous meal of seared Yellowfin tuna with a white bean and oregano salad-the same exact dish you can order at Tuscan Steak (one of my favorite places to eat on the beach!) and come to find out it was straight from the pages of Dr. Agatston’s book. I ran, not walked, to the nearest bookstore only to find out they were completely out of the book. It happens, no reason to panic I told myself. I tried three other bookstores and the same story everywhere I went. Online bookstores were no better, “out of stock” they told me, ” will ship in 2 weeks”. By this time I was desperate, convinced the gods were torturing me (I knew I shouldn’t have had that second piece of Key Lime pie), I talked myself into believing everyone had a copy of this diet bible except me. Two weeks later a copy arrived in the mail and ever since I’ve been like a kid in a candy store unable to get enough.
Now, before I tell you anymore let’s get one thing straight-I hate diets. I think they’re stupid. They never work and more often than not we’re disappointed, right? It was with this skepticism that I opened the front cover of the South Beach Diet. “The South Beach Diet is not low-carb. Nor is it low-fat. The South Beach Diet teaches you to rely on the right carbs and the right fats-the good ones-and enables you to live quite happily without the bad carbs and the bad fats.”
And now the clincher, Dr. Agatston says “You’ll have three balanced meals a day, and it will be your job to eat so that your hunger is satisfied. Nothing undermines a weight-loss plan more than the distressing sensation that you need more food. No sane eating program expects you to go through life feeling discomfort. You’ll be urged to have snacks in the midmorning and midafternoon, whether you need to or not. You’ll have dessert after dinner.”
Did you hear what the man said? You’ll have dessert after dinner. I read the entire first half of the book in one sitting (the second half is meal plans and recipes). Everything he had to say made perfect sense, however there were three things in particular that made me want to march right over to the Miami Heart Institute and give Dr. Agatston a great big hug.
First of all, the doctor is completely honest about what this diet can and cannot do:
“I’m a cardiologist, I don’t see diet patients per say. I see patients who are overweight and have heart problems or risk factors for heart disease. My major focus is prevention of heart attack and stroke. In order to do that, you have normalize weight and blood chemistry over a long period of time. You can’t just want to lose a few pounds for the wedding or the Bar Mitzvah that’s coming up.
Our goal was to create something simple that could become a lifestyle, not just a diet. A lot of time we will get people whose blood chemistry is normal and they want to lose another half an inch here, really just body sculpt and this diet not going to do much for them. It’s the healthiest diet to be on whether you have to lose weight or not.”
Secondly, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about low-fat, “diet” foods not really being all that good for you. As it turns out, all the foods they have been shoving down our throats since the 70s is exactly what’s been making America the most obese country in the world. Here’s another fact that’ll make you go hmmm:
“Basically the reason we have gotten so fat is because the carbs that are being recommended to us through the food pyramid are the ones where the digestion process really starts in the factory instead of in our stomachs. We must eat whole grains and start reading labels. If you find a loaf of bread that is labeled as “enriched,” it’s because they have already processed all its nutrients and fiber out and have had to replace them. We digest these types of foods very rapidly and as a result the blood sugar goes up rapidly. There is an insulin response, the blood sugar drops and were hungry a few hours after we eat. So we’re hungry all the time.”
Hungry for more? Here’s an additional little factoid for you, “Most of what the weight gained by adults-85-90%-in this country is due to the type of carbohydrates they eat.” (Translation: drop that low-fat muffin you’re nibbling on right now.)
And undeniably my favorite part of the book is the recipes. To describe them in one painless word is delicious. Never could I have imagined I would use that word to describe recipes from a diet book. Well fellow skeptics, the recipes aren’t exactly from the diet book. Like I mentioned earlier, most of the meal ideas are a compilation of recipes from the chefs of popular South Beach fine dining establishments. China Grill, 1220 at the Tides and Joe’s Stone Crab to name a few. So see, even if you aren’t looking to drop a few pounds you can still learn to prepare your favorite South Beach eats at home. Not too shabby for a diet book, huh?
As for South Beach, well America, we’ve already given you the sexiest super models and the hottest summer blockbuster movies on the planet—and now we’ve given you the South Beach Diet so you can have the body of your dreams. But stand-by, because there’s more to come.