Slimming World has changed my life. That’s a terribly magaziney statement, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It’s very true! It is the least restrictive ‘diet’ I have ever followed, and for this reason, it has been a success. Now I know that anyone reading this who is a very firm believer in Slimming World will be screaming “It’s not a diet! It’s a lifestyle change!”, and this is absolutely true, but for the purposes of this post I will be using the term diet.
As I’ve said previously, most people who want to lose weight believe that if they stick to a predetermined set of rules regarding their food intake over a specific period of time, they will lose weight. That they are allowed x, y and z each day and are not allowed to go beyond that. Their food intake is restricted, and therefore they lose weight. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but is completely unsustainable for someone who needs to lose a larger amount of weight. Weightloss takes time. I used to think that if I stuck to a diet (pick any fad) for a month or so, I’d lose all the weight I needed to and the problem would be solved! Ridiculous, but when you’re becoming desperate you get delusional. Three years on, I now know that my ‘diet’ as it stands is actually known as normal, healthy eating. What came before was not normal. It was totally unbalanced, unhealthy, and largely unsatisfying. I will never be able to eat exactly what I want. I am not one of these people who can inhale vast amounts of calories and never gain any weight, it’s just not the way I’m built. And I’m not the type of person who doesn’t care what they look like – obviously.
So if it isn’t a diet in the common sense of the word, what is Slimming World? What can you eat?
Simply put, you can eat anything. This, I think, is the main reason some people find it hard to understand. Nothing is off limits. Plus you can eat vast quantities of most foods and still lose weight. It honestly bugs me when people ask me “how did you lose the weight”? All full of wide eyed wonder and anticipation that quickly crumbles when I say Slimming World. A lot of people claim they can’t understand it, that it’s too complicated, that they tried it and didn’t lose any weight, and so on. This is complete bullshit. When I hear this, I feel obliged to nod sympathetically and offer a few basic hints to enhance the understanding of this puzzling and rocket science-esque plan; when what I really want to do is beat the person into a coma with a bag of spuds. The plan that beginners follow when they join is called EXTRA EASY – the clue is in the name! I shall quickly summarise the plan, and will let those of you not already familiar judge as to the difficulty of it. Please note, my summary will not be exhaustive, as there really are no foods off limits. This is a dummies version.
Foods that can be eaten freely include:
All lean red meats
All lean poultry and pork – including bacon
Potatoes and pasta
Quorn mince/Quorn pieces
Some fat free yogurts (ie most Mullerlights)
These are the main foods that can be eaten freely. This means UNLIMITED AMOUNTS. The only proviso is that you do not add fat to these foods, during cooking, or afterwards. This means, do not fry the lean meats in oil or butter. Don’t dress your pasta dish with olive oil. Don’t put butter on your baked potato. And always trim off all visible fat from your meats before cooking.
Next up: Breads/cereals and dairy products. You can eat one portion of each, every day. Not difficult to keep track of! These are known as ‘Healthy Extras‘ as they supplement your free foods.
One portion of bread would be two slices of wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf, or a 60g wholemeal roll. Or you could have 4 original Ryvita, or if you like your morning cereal, 2 Weetabix. Enjoy a nibble with your morning coffee? Have 2 Alpen Light bars instead.
One portion of dairy could be 250ml of semi-skimmed milk, or 30g of cheddar cheese. Choose a low fat cheese and your portion size increases to 45g – more than enough to fill a sandwich or melt over a baked potato or homemade steak burger.
Finally: Syns. A Slimming World term for treats, naughty things, indulgences etc
Foods that are not ‘free’ or deemed a Healthy Extra, are awarded a syn value. Think of syns as currency. You have 10 syns in your pocket first thing every morning, and you can spend them how you wish. Choose wisely and you can get a lot of bang for your buck. Examples include:
Spending 10 syns on a Cadburys Freddo bar at lunchtime…. And another one for after dinner
Spending 6 syns on a bag of Snack a Jacks with lunch
Treating yourself to a vodka and Diet Coke after work (4 syns)
Spreading two level teaspoons of real butter onto your healthy extra of toast – 4 syns
Perking up a free foods ‘fry’ with a tablespoon of Heinz ketchup – 1 syn
There are thousands of ways you can spend your syns. Different things work for different people. I spent mine primarily on chocolate, as there was no way I could go cold turkey! Other people I went to Slimming World with had no heed in sweet stuff, but couldn’t handle the thought of not having a drink at the weekends, so they’d save their daily syn allowance for five days and then have drinks on a Saturday night. They continued to have steady, impressive losses at their weigh in.
So far so good? This is as basic as I could make it. Granted, some may find the counting of syns confusing or restrictive. This is where it comes in useful to write down what you eat, for the first couple of weeks anyway. Sometimes I think the human brain has an incapacity to understand things that are basic. That by complicating something that is simple, it is able to understand more fully? Or is that called awkwardness? Either way, I defy anyone to say that this plan is complicated. It’s not. But that’s assuming that you have read the literature provided to you when you join. I get asked a lot of questions by people who have the answer sitting in front of them in the books that you get when you join, and I swear to God, it irritates the hell out of me. The books are well written, easy to read, and contain EVERYTHING anyone needs to get started. That’s why they are given to you when join. That’s what you paid a joining fee for. Read the books properly and you shouldnt have to ask stupid questions. Grrrrrrrr.
Right, I can feel a rant coming on, and I need to get ready for a run. This has been Slimming World for Dummies (as I see it). Please remember – I am not a Slimming World guru. I don’t intend to promote myself as such. If I am so well versed in the ways of weightloss, why was I fat in the first place? Believe me, I know my place. And I know that if I let myself, I could easily put that nine stone back on again in a shorter space of time than it took me to lose it; I just hope that even one person reading this will try it out and succeed. It really has changed my life.
I just wish I’d changed it sooner.