A few months ago, I told my doc I was fed up with South Beach and he sent me to a center. The center said, "that's nice" and told me to gather data while they got me a nutritionist. That took forever, but they got me someone whom I told my woes.
She turned me over to www.sparkpeople.com, a website that can suck a lot of time if you let it. Among its many uses, you can: input your food to find out not only calories, but carbs, protein, and fat intake; set goals for each of those or any micronutrient you want to eat enough of; track exercise; track any weight-related measurement; track sleep; receive lots of emails about health and nutrition (there's a fun one comparing restaurant and fast food meals); join numerous online groups to chat out your issues; write a blog; make sure you drink 8 glasses of water a day; input your own goals and track them (the Stormin' Mormon group has a goal of reading General Conference talks each week); read success stories.... There's a lot.
The main surprise for us using the nutrition tracker were how much fat there is in very little peanut butter and peanuts, so I chose to have ranch dip with my celery instead. A few other small changes like that were quick and painless.
I also renewed my Cornell gym membership and have been enjoying getting back to weight lifting (I can still benchpress my old undergrad weight) and reading econ journals while on the exercycles.
It was a lot of work and a lot of time and I didn't feel like there was a difference and I was really discouraged and dreaded meeting the nutritionist for a second time: the nice lady became Darth Vader about to choke the life out of me. It was bad. The second meeting with her ... wasn't as bad as advertised. If the first one was about telling my sad story and her realizing I was pretty sensitive, the second was about her finally telling me what her principles of good nutrition are and getting permission to not spend my life on sparkpeople obsessing over my food choices...
and finding out I've lost five pounds.
The main difference from South Beach is to add in more of the unrefined grains: about one each meal instead of one a day, and corn, peas, and potatoes can be that unrefined starch. She wants me to think of a plate that is filled with about half fruits and vegetables, one fourth lean meat, and one fourth good carbs. Milk, nuts, and other healthy things are off the plate but not out of the lifestyle. It's about "make sure you eat a little of each of these each meal" rather than "exclude everything not on this plate."
She mentioned attending a conference that compared Atkins and South Beach. Though the theoretical recommendations of the two say one thing, researchers measured what people normally consume on each diet. They got as much protein as they ought, but Atkins followers got 50% of their calories from fat and South Beachers got 35% from fat in practice, rather than the 25% that is my new goal.
It has been quite refreshing to have toast with my eggs again; müsli or granola as a snack; corn; raisins. Joy has been baking whole wheat again (hooray!). When some controls are lifted, you start learning which foods were important to you that you missed the most, like apple juice. I'm feeling more filled at each meal and don't feel as snacky between meals. As Joy and I left the appointment, she approved the plan as being much closer to what the Word of Wisdom recommends.
Best recipe to come out of sparkpeople: freeze a banana, cut it into larger pieces to put in a food processor, and blend it up. It has the texture of instant banana ice cream. Mix in whip cream or a little chocolate sauce or cinnamon or some berries or nuts and you've got a very versatile dessert.