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.
There seems to be a very peculiar thing in Irish culture that says you always need to have some “good” biscuits in your home, just in case you get visitors.
It seems to be the ultimate social faux-pas to greet a visitor (be they friend, family or mortal enemy) without something sweet and fancy (biscuits, cake, or similar) to offer up with a cup of tea, even if said visitor turns up at the door completely unannounced.
I’m not sure what would happen if anyone ever turned up at an Irish house and there were no biscuits to offer, because I don’t think this occurrence has ever happened.
The impact for literally tens of thousands of Slimming World members in Ireland is that they are obliged to have “good” biscuits in their homes at all times.
And it would take the strength of Samson himself to resist those biscuits for longer than a day or two.
Even now I can hear the chocolate hobnobs calling to me from the kitchen press. And there’s no such thing as having just one. Biscuits are a trigger food for me, and once I open the packet, at least half of them would be gone – and that’s a lot of Syns!
And afterwards, of course, I’d have to buy some more – you know – in case we get visitors.
The official instructions from Slimming World is that these meals are NOT required to follow the Food Optimising plan. It’s not like some companies that mandate that you buy their products in order to follow their diet. It’s perfectly possible to do Slimming World and never taste any of these Iceland products.
However, what they do say is that the foods are there if you need them.
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes it’s hard find the time to cook a healthy meal from scratch. Sometimes we only have a few minutes to grab something to eat after work before running out of the door again. And for those time, Slimming World says that these frozen ready-meals are available.
If they help avoid resorting to a takeaway or something else equally quick but unhealthy, then that’s a good thing!
The portions are also fairly generous, so you can feel like you’ve had a proper dinner (unlike with some other ready meals). And if you feel like trying to reproduce the meal at home, they print the recipe on the back of the packaging for you!
The stores aren’t always in a convenient locations, depending on where you live. I know I have to make a special journey across town to my nearest shop.
What about other supermarkets?
The deal to sell branded Slimming World meals is exclusive to Iceland, and other supermarkets are not allowed to sell products with the Slimming World name or with Syn-values listed.
That didn’t stop Aldi introducing their range of ‘SlimFree’ meals last year aimed at slimmers. Slimming World promptly threatened to sue them, and I believe the dispute is ongoing.
In the mean time the Aldi meals are a third cheaper than the Iceland ones, but we don’t have any official Syn values for them, as Slimming World refuses to list the Syn for these ‘SlimFree’ foods in their Syns Online database.
Instant Mash Potato (100g made up) is now 3 1/2 Syns
Canned Pasta Shapes in Tomato Sauce (100g) is now 1/2 Syn
The new Syn values will be updated on the online tools over the next week, and will be in the new version of the Food Optimising book in 2019.
Impact of these changes
There are a lot of people that rely on the fat free yogurts – both as a snack on it’s own, and as an ingredient to such Slimming World favourites as overnight oats and oat pancakes.
The Instant Mash Potato is also a used a fair bit at a ‘tweak’ food, as a coating in place of breadcrumbs, a thickener for soups and sauces, or a flour substitute in recipes. So the new syn value could affect all of these uses.
Have you ever had one of those weeks when you think you’re doing everything right, but the pounds don’t seem to be shifting? Have you reached a plateau for a few weeks that you can’t seem to get past?
Well before you give up entirely, here’s a few things you might just want to check up on, to see if they’re stopping your weight loss:
1. You’re having too many cheat days
I used to know a pair of women in my group that every week after the Slimming World class had a very off-plan binge on takeaway and wine. It was their blow-out after being good all week, and I’m sure they enjoyed it. However they also had to spend the rest of the next week trying to repair the damage!
It can be good to have the occasional cheat day – I should know, I’ve had plenty – but you have to be careful that an occasional cheat day doesn’t become a regular cheat day, because that’s going to have an effect on your weight loss progress.
One of the other problems of going off-plan is we all know it’s harder to get back on-plan afterwards. If you’ve had a ‘bold’ day, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ve ruined the whole week, and your cheat day becomes your cheat week! So if you have a blow-out, plan to straight back to Food Optimising after, and then at least you can mitigate the damage!
2. You’re doing too many tweaks
The whole reason why Slimming World consultants are so wary of tweaks is that you can end up eating too many calories without realising. The problem comes when the portion of free or speed food that you use for your tweak is much bigger than a normal portion would be if you ate that food in its un-tweeked form.
Using couscous (which is normally free) as a flour replacement in cake recipe might mean that you end up eating much more of the couscous than you normally would if it were in its original form in a meal. Similarly when roasting chickpeas as a replacement for peanuts it would be easy to eat a lot more chickpeas than you normally would.
So I guess the lesson would be, if you are going to tweak, watch your portion sizes!
3. You’re not eating your Speed
How often have you forgotten about the 1/3 speed rule when preparing meals? I do it all the time! I can get my 1/3 speed in when cooking a dinner, as I just make sure I have plenty of vegetables on my plate. But when it comes to breakfast time it can be more of a challenge.
I was told once that a good tactic when you’re finding it difficult to combine speed with your meal is to have it beforehand. If your breakfast is cereal, try having some fruit before to help you fill up. If your lunch is a bowl of pasta, maybe have some carrot sticks before.
However, by far the best way to make sure you get your 1/3 speed into every meal is to plan ahead. Look at all your recipes and work out how you are going to incorporate speed into the meal. That might be adding loads of veggies to your pasta dish, or having fruit with your breakfast.
4. You’re not counting your Syns
Once you’ve been doing Slimming World for a while, its tempting to stop counting your Syns. I must admit I’ve terrible at counting my Syns, and because of that I often get to the end of the day and don’t know if I’m under or over my Syns allowance.
It may be a pain to do, but if you don’t count the Syns, then you have the potential to put your weight loss at risk. So maybe think of an innovative way of counting them that works for you – either with a tally sheet, using a smartphone app, or perhaps posting photos of everything you eat on Instagram.
5. You’re eating unconscious Syns
This goes hand-in-hand with not counting Syns properly. It’s all too easy to have accidental Syns and forget about them, or not even realise you’re having them at all! The odd bit of milk in your coffee, the biscuits or sweets lying around at work, or the bits of food you steal off your kid’s plate – they can all add up!
By counting your Syns properly, you’ll be more conscious of the food you eat, and you’ll not go over your allowance without realising.
6. You’re not eating your Syns
This is a strange one. Surely if you don’t eat your Syns that’s a good thing, right? Well if your Syns consist entirely of chocolate and sweets then maybe missing out on the sugar-rush every now and again would be good idea. However I prefer to use my some of my Syns as meal ingredients and sauces, and those Syns can be good for you (in moderation of course).
After all, the body needs some fat and sugar in the diet. If you cut these out entirely then your body can feel its going into a starvation mode, and it will begin holding on to fat reserves. We don’t want that! That’s why Slimming World says to have “5-15 Syns”, rather than saying “up to 15 Syns”, because they want you to have at least some each day!
Also there’s the thing about having a few treats on a regular basis so that you’ll be less likely to ‘break’ at some point in the future and binge-eat.
7. You’re going overboard on the Free foods
The Slimming World plan tells you that you can have as much Free foods as you want. So it can be tempting to take this to the extreme.
Just because Muller Light yogurts are free doesn’t mean you can eat 10 of them in a day and still lose weight. All free foods need to be eaten in moderation, and ideally as part of a meal rather than a snack.
The advice seems to be to eat as much Free food as you want (along with your 1/3 Speed) to feel satisfied as part of a meal, and then limit snacks to Speed foods or Syn’d foods.
There are, of course, other reasons why you might not see a loss on the scales. The thing is to not get disheartened by temporary setbacks. Stick with the plan and you will get the weight loss eventually. After all this isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon!
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