I am doing the South Beach Diet. There are 3 phases. Phase 1 only lasts 2 weeks and is meant to curb your sugar cravings by basically resetting your body and your insulin usage/response. This stage you will rapidly lose weight, particularly in your belly. This stage consists of no carbs (no breads, no rice, no pasta, etc), limited fat (some cheeses are ok, olive oil and canola oil are ok), and very lean meats. There are some deserts that you can make that are in any of the South Beach Diet books that you can have. They are made with artificial sweetners, so I could not have them because they are migraine triggers for me.
Phase 2 you reintroduce healthy carbs, fats, and sweet food (fruit). You can have wine on phase 2. You stay on this phase until you’ve reached your goal weight.
Phase 3 is basically now you take it as a lifestyle so you are able to maintain your weight. More foods are introduced here.
There’s no cheats “allowed” exactly, but the book does admit that there are exceptions to the rule. For me, I’ve decided once I am done with Phase 1, I can have a cheat or two on Fridays only. I wouldn’t recommend cheating at all on Phase 1 because it won’t allow your body to reset and you won’t see the results you want.
As with any diet, the more you cheat, the less successful you will be. I bought a couple of the South Beach Diet books off of betterworldbooks.com used for $3.98 each with free shipping. You can also get them out from the library. The recipes from these books I have used turned out actually to be so delicious that even though I miss my snacks, my actual cravings have gone down and I have never felt hungry.
I will note that this means a lot more cooking because you can’t have most processed foods.