Changes to the Slimming World plan

Slimming World announced today that a number of changes are going to be made to their healthy eating plan. Consultants are sharing this news starting today, but the changes do not take effect until Christmas 2018.

The highlights for the standard Extra Easy plan seem to be:

  • Everyone gets an extra Health Extra A – that’s an increase in the amount of milk or cheese you can have each day
  • A number of foods are being removed from the Healthy Extra A and B categories – most notably some soft cheeses from the HEA

Specific changes for if you’re doing an SP day are:

  • Only one Healthy Extra B from now on – the second HEB you used to get when doing SP has been removed
  • Peas and beans (all types) are no longer listed as P (Protein) foods, so if you want to eat them on an SP day then you’ll need to syn them
  • Syns for people doing an SP day have been reduced to 10!

These changes all come in as Slimming World prepares to celebrate next year the 50th anniversary since its foundation.

Progress comes from tiny changes

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.

Like almost everyone else on the planet, my grand New Year’s resolutions of old started off very well-intentioned, but my resolve would vanish well before January was over. And the biggest reason why I’d give up on these resolutions so easily was because the change associated with them was far too big!

Setting a target to go to the gym 3 times a week when your current attendance is zero times is too big a change. Planning to attend loads of networking events when you’re painfully shy is too big a change. And saying that you’re going on a diet when you currently eat everything around you is too big a change.

That’s why our resolve fails. The change is too dramatic, and it doesn’t stick.

Micro-goals

What we need to do is set ourselves really small incremental changes or micro-goals. These are tiny little changes that don’t make much of a difference to our lives – and as such we don’t rebel against them – but can be added to other small changes over time, to achieve real progress.

The key is to understand what your eventual goal is, but not try to achieve it straight away. Instead break it down into lots of little incremental improvements that will get you there over a period of time.

Rather than trying to go to the gym 3 times a week straight away, start with the micro-goal of walking for 20 minutes more than normal next week. See how you go with that small incremental change, and then come up with your next micro-goal, and then the next, and next. With all these small very-achievable changes we’re going absorb those changes more easily.

Slimming World is all about small changes

It’s one of the reasons why I like Slimming World. It’s not a crash diet – in fact, it’s not a diet at all. It’s a healthy eating plan where you make smallish changes to what you eat.

Instead of making one big change of giving up eating all the delicious unhealthy things you like, you are instead encouraged to make a small changes to substitute one unhealthy food for a more healthy version.

Loads of Slimming World recipes are all about making healthier versions of the foods we already love. So it’s not a dramatic change. It’s a small change, and as such it’s a lot more palatable (pun intended!). 

A crash diet may deliver more dramatic results, but it’s not sustainable in the long term – and if anything it’s just going to fuel yo-yo dieting – and that’s not healthy.

Retraining the body can be difficult

When you first change your diet to be more healthy, it can be a shock to the body.

For the last few weeks I’ve been completely off-plan, and making all the wrong choices. I was on holiday in America – and then travelling with work – and eating out all the time. It was just easier to forget about food optimising for a while, and eat what I wanted.

There were also plenty of opportunities for sugary treats and snacks between meals, and I got used to grazing on sweets, chocolate and crisps throughout the day. So it’s no wonder I managed to put on over a stone in weight in just 6 weeks!

But now that I’m back on-plan I’m finding that the change of diet is a shock to the system. Meals themselves are fine. I make sure that I have a good breakfast with lots of protein (eggs are my favourite) to keep me feeling full throughout the day, and dinners are good too, as we have a good repertoire of Slimming World free (or nearly-free) meals.

The shock comes from cutting out the bad snacks. I was used to eating rubbish, even when I wasn’t hungry. I would have a sugar crash, and crave something sweet, and I would have it – even if I was due to have a meal in the next hour or two. And I suppose it’s this sugar roller-coaster of highs and lows that I need to get away from.

I know that if I can get past this first few weeks, then my body will get used to a “new normal” of less sugar intake, and be better off for it. But until then I need to deal with the cravings.

My plan of action is to drink as much water as possible – this helps in making me feel full – and it’s useful to remind myself that thirst can sometimes be disguised as hunger pangs. So if I get a craving to eat between meals, then I reach for the water first of all, and only if it persists about 20 minutes after I’ve drunk some water will I actually eat something. My second line of attack is fruit. It’s not ideal to eat a lot of fruit, as it has natural sugars in it that could perpetuate my sugar cravings – but an apple contains a lot less sugar than a bag of wine gums!

So for now I’m managing my sugar cravings, and trying to keep an eye on my goal of weight loss. And I’m also avoid having any sugary treats in the house at all, to help me avoid temptation!