Trust us, after seven long days without any sugar, your brain’s reward centre will experience that first bite of juicy pear, luscious grape or crunchy apple as an explosion of sweetness – a full-on parade of flavour marching across your taste buds. The part of your appetite that previously begged for doughnuts will be just as satisfied with this phase’s delectable, fruit-filled menu.
So why does fruit get a pass in your new phase? Simple: it’s packed with fibre and nutrients and it doesn’t contain any added sugar. Now, you’re currently working towards a goal of six teaspoons of added sugar a day, but not yet – it has to be done gradually. We’ve eliminated it on Days 6 to 12 because a sugar-loaded palate will have been so over-sugared that it’s lost the ability to really taste and appreciate the sweetness of fruit. Eliminating it for those seven days has helped to reset the way your taste buds and brain react to sugar stimuli.
We’re not saying that the sugar in fruit isn’t more or less chemically the same as the stuff found on top of your cereal or stirred into your tea (table sugar and the sugar in fruit have approximately the same proportion of fructose and glucose). But fruit has less of it and the body has a harder time extracting the sugar from a piece of fruit than it does from a sweet. That’s because fruit is packed with fibre, which slows the breakdown of the food in your digestive system, leading to a far more gradual release of sugar into your body – sparing you from the heady sugar spikes that used to send you reeling.
DAYS 13–20 What to do
Have breakfast every morning. Just as you did in Phase 1, you’ll start the day with a proteinpacked meal to keep your appetite and blood sugar on an even keel. In this phase, you’ll find some terrific fruit options. When fruit is paired with protein and fat, it’s even more satisfying.
Feel free to mix and match the lunch and dinner options. You can also keep eating any of the Phase 1 meals, but we’ve added some quick and easy meals to this phase to keep it varied. Just like the Phase 1 meals, these are centred on fresh, whole foods – grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein.
Have one serving of a processed whole-grain product, if you like. Ideally, all of your grain intake would be from whole, unprocessed grains because once they’re pulverised into flour and restructured into cereal, bread or noodles, they get digested almost as quickly as sugar. But we all live in the real world, where a bowl of cold cereal makes for a quick breakfast, a bowl of pasta is calling your name, or you want the convenience of
a sandwich. That’s why we’ve brought back processed whole-grain products in this phase, but just once a day. A note about bread: it can be tough to track down a commercial one that doesn’t contain added sugar, so the bread we use in this phase comes in the form of tortillas and pitas, which tend to have about one gram or less. If you choose to eat one of our wrap or burrito options, you’d be taking in a minuscule amount of added sugar. If you opt for cereal, pick one with zero grams of sugar and three or more grams of fibre per serving.
For all its nutritious goodness, fruit’s sugar content means that it’s higher in kilojoules than vegetables.
So in order to keep your weight in check, you don’t want to go overboard on the fruit. Whether you snack on it, serve it for dessert or eat it as part of a meal, you can have fruit as long as you don’t eat more than three servings per day. A serving is a selection of sliced fruit or one medium piece of whole fruit. If strong sugar cravings have been an issue in the past, you may want to head for low-sugar fruits more often; it’s best to play safe.
Don’t forget to snack! Eating every few hours is just as important in this phase as it was in the last one. You’ll still be eating one 420kJ and one 630kJ snack per day at the times of your choosing. And while you can have a juicy piece of fruit, we suggest that you pair it with protein or a fat in order to control your blood-sugar response and satisfy your appetite even more. Check
out the chart on page 92 for some ideas. And watch out for the following foods: white flour and products made with it, white rice, fruit juice and sugar in any of its many forms (including the table sugar you might add to foods, honey, agave and maple syrup).
EAT THE SPECTRUM
Think of fruits as crayons. You wouldn’t use just two colours, right? You want the whole box to pick from. It’s the same with fruit. All fruit contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and various disease-fighting, skin-boosting nutrients like antioxidants and phytochemicals. The real difference between types lies in their colours, which are linked to different nutritional goodies. The more shades you choose, the more health benefits you’ll reap.
To turn fruit from a snack into a proper dessert, you’ve got to try grilling it, at least once. Grilling fruit causes its sugars to caramelise, creating a unique, smoky flavour that’s perfect for a side dish or dessert that tastes decadent.
You can grill or braai any fruit large and firm enough to take the heat: apples, pears, pineapple, peaches, oranges, even strawberries – if you put them on skewers. If you want to try braaiing smaller fruits, like grapes or blueberries, use a pan to hold them above the flames or coals.
To prevent sticking, brush the fruit on both sides with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Most fruits need only three or four minutes of grilling on each side. Place on a non-stick baking tray in your oven (on the grill setting). When it’s done, slide it onto a plate, top with a dollop of plain yoghurt, ricotta or cottage cheese (trust us, it can work!) and dust with cinnamon.