A day in and out of hospital

My wife and I were looking forward to a really quiet Bank Holiday Monday, but our plans didn’t quite work out.

The phone started ringing just before 7.00am. One of our family had fallen at home while carrying a glass, it had smashed, and they had cut themselves badly on the hand.

And so in the midst of calling an ambulance, throwing clothes on, and rushing around to their house, all thoughts of a good healthy breakfast flew out the window.

The rest of the day was full of activity. For my part, I ended up acting as a taxi service for various members of the family – ferrying them to and fro in and out of the hospital – and also making sure that the dogs were fed, walked and looked after.

Different members of the family were in and out of the hospital all day, and all of them had to just grab whatever food was available in the few minutes they had.

I’ve spoken about hospital food before from the perspective of a patient (spoiler: it was all bread!), but it’s not that much better as a visitor. Because it was a Bank Holiday, only some of the catering facilities were open. As such my wife’s breakfast was two slices of white toast with jam. I’m not sure how many Syns were in that, but at the time we weren’t highly motivated to work it out!

By the time we finally got home last night it was just after 11.00pm, and I contemplated trying to reheat some left-over curry from the fridge for dinner, but in the end my tiredness took precedence and I went straight to bed.

Thankfully the injuries to the patient weren’t quite as bad a we first feared. They did have a 90-minute operation to repair the damage to the hand, but they should make a full recovery and be out of hospital very soon.

Healthy Extras

In addition to all the free and speed foods you can eat on Slimming World, you have additional Healthy Extras – known as your Healthy Extra A (HEA) an Health Extra B (HEB).

What is my Healthy Extra A?

Your healthy extra A is a weighed and measured portion of dairy per day. The idea is to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet.

You can choose your own healthy extra A in the form of milk or cheese, and generally the lower the fat content then the bigger portion you’re allowed.

For instance, your health extra A can be either:

  • 350ml of skimmed milk
  • 300ml of 1% fat milk
  • 250ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 175ml of whole milk

If you go over your allocation of ‘A’ then you need to syn it. However you can also share your ‘A’ between 2 or more things. For example, you can have half a portion of skimmed milk and half a portion of cheese.

What is my Health Extra B?

Your healthy extra B is a weighed and measured portion of fibre per day.

You can choose your own healthy extra B in the form of bread, cereal, cereal bars, HiFi bars, crispbread, crackers, cooked fruit, dried fruit, or tinned fruit. The portion size will vary depending upon the fibre and nutritional content.

For the bread, you’re allowed up to 60g of any wholemeal bread or roll. In general this means you can only have one slice as your ‘B’, unless you’re using a small (400g) loaf or ‘slimmers’ bread.

Other common choices are to use your ‘B’ for 40g of porridge, or to have 2 Slimming World HiFi bars. I sometimes use my ‘B’ on 5 scanbran.

As with your ‘A’ if you go over your allocation of ‘B’ then you need to syn it. And you can also share your ‘B’ between 2 or more things.

Exceptions

If you’re doing an SP day then you’re meant to eat two health extra Bs, to ensure you get enough fibre. I assume that’s because you’re potentially losing some fibre from not eating free foods.

If you’re pregnant you are allowed two healthy extra As and two healthy extra Bs. Additional As are also recommended for breast-feeding mums.

Also when you become a Target Member, you’re advised that you can increase your A and/or B over a period of time, as long as it doesn’t impact upon your ability to maintain your weight.

What are your trigger foods?

Bread – one of my trigger foods

It’s a common problem. You’ve been on-plan all week, you’ve batch cooked loads of dinners, counted those syns, and knocked it out of the park with all that body magic!

So you deserve a treat – a bit of chocolate, a glass of wine, a slice of pizza, or a bag of chips. But before you know it, you’re laid out on the floor groaning from eating your own body weight in junk food!

You’ve fallen foul of your trigger foods, lost control, and weren’t able to stop!

Food addiction

For some it’s hard to think of food as something you can be addicted to. We all need to eat to live, but for some of us eating becomes much more than pure survival. Just looking at or thinking about certain foods triggers the reward centres of the brain – the same area that’s triggered for alcohol and drug addictions.

A release of dopamine makes you feel good, heightens your awareness of the food, and encourages the brain to want to eat it.

My trigger foods

I have a number of trigger foods that cause me to get out of control if left unchecked. Here’s my top 3:

  1. Bread
  2. Savoury snacks combining pastry and meat (sausage rolls / pies)
  3. Ice cream

The only way I can avoid binging on all of these things is to avoid them altogether, even to the extent of not having them in the house. Because I don’t want just one or two slices of bread – I want half a loaf! I don’t want one pork pie – I want the entire packet. And don’t get me started on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, because I won’t stop!

So the way for me to keep on-track with Slimming World is to cut out these trigger foods entirely. I know that a lot of people enjoy bread for their Healthy Extra B, but I prefer to have something like Scanbran or an Aldi Harvest Morn Cereal Bar – something that I won’t binge on.

Aldi Harvest Morn Cereal Bars – one bar is 5 Syns or a Health Extra B

What are your trigger foods? How do you manage them? Let me know in the comments…

McCambridge Bread Syns

Image from www.mccambridge.ie
Photo from mccambridge.ie

There’s been a fair amount of discussion in my group over the last two weeks about the syn values of McCambridge Soda Bread.

A lot of the members seem to love this bread, and a couple of them were asking if it could be used as a Healthy Extra B. It seems like quite a healthy bread – it’s wholewheat and the slices are tiny – so surely it must be good for you.

There also seemed to be some confusion and discrepancy amongst people as to the syn values for each slice, so I decided to follow up and check for myself.

Syns Online screenshot – August 2018

The answer is that one slice of the John McCambridge Brown Soda Bread is 4½ syns, and a slice of the gluten-free version of the bread is 5½ syns. But interestingly the gluten-free slice can also be as a Healthy Extra B.

I’m sure there’ll be a few happy people in my group that’ll be happy to hear about this!

Soda bread alternative from Lidl

If you can’t find the McCambridge’s gluten-free bread, then an alternative is the Connell Bakery Wholemeal Soda Bread from Lidl. One slice of that is your Healthy Extra B or 5 syns.

Food addictions

When you’re doing Slimming World, there are loads of foods that you can eat freely.

You can have as much as you want of those lovely  ‘speed’ vegetables and fruit. I also find it good to pack in a good amount lean protein, as it keeps me feeling full all day.  And in theory, you are allowed as much of the non-speed free foods (such as potatoes, pasta and rice) as you like – although I find that I sometimes need to moderate these, or I won’t get the loss I’m seeking.

And then there’s all the Healthy Extra and Syns that you need to measure and weigh. When it comes to some of these foods, I find it easier not to have them at all!

Take bread for example. I love bread. I love to eat loads of bread. I could eat an entire French stick in one sitting and still be craving toast to follow. But I find that the Healthy Extra B allowance too restrictive. I don’t want just one slice of bread. I want several. And so I don’t have any. Because if I got the taste for it, I’d eat it in large quantities, and before you know it, I’d be using all my syns on bread.

Alcohol is another example. I like a drink, but there’s not a lot of point having just one. If I’m going to have a glass of wine, then I’d prefer to share a bottle with my wife. But half a bottle of wine is far too many syns. And so it’s easier not to drink at all.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there are certain foods and drinks that I have an abusive relationship with, and crave quantities of them well above what would be considered normal. It doesn’t happen with all foods. If I look at a banana, I don’t feel the need to eat a whole bunch. But for many sweet and savoury foods, I’m not content with just a normal quantity. I feel the need to eat them to excess.

And so, like any addict, it’s easier for me to avoid them altogether.