Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Dark Side of Slimming World & Healthier Snack Alternatives

Not Sponsored or Paid | Not Endorsed by Slimming World, I am a Paying Member

Hi!

This is a wordy one, so sorry about that.

So, I've mentioned before that there's a side to Slimming World that I really dislike. Firstly, if you're not familiar with the plan, here's the basics on the Extra Easy plan:

*Meals must be 1/3 "speed" food - most vegetables or fruit. You can include as much "free" food as you want. "Free" foods don't have to be measured - these are your meats, carbs, and starchy veg/fruit. There are no recommended portion sizes.
*You are encouraged to use any spices, seasonings, or condiments you wish. Some branded spice blends contain extra sugar so these have a Syn value, but basically everything you'd find on a spice rack is fine. You can also use vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, soy, oyster sauce, stock cubes.
*You have one Healthy Extra A (dairy) and one Healthy Extra B (fibre) choice per day. You pick from a set list, they have to be weighed or measured.
*You also have up to 15 "Syns" to use daily on whatever you want that isn't included in the plan. So this is your snacks, your high calorie foods, alcohol, etc. 1 Syn = approx 20kcal.

At the core, I love all of the above. I love how it relies on cooking from scratch, I love how it promotes eating extra fruit and veg, and I enjoy making recipes from fresh ingredients. I know it works, I've seen it working, I know people who continue to have fantastic success with it. There are three people I really recommend you follow if you're on plan, because they all plan, cook from scratch, and really promote health over weight loss:

Tracey at Love of Living lost 52lbs in 52 weeks following the plan.
Nicola from The Naked Blondie has lost over 8.5 stone following the plan.
Lynne became a SW Consultant and hit target following the plan.

Actually one of my favourite no-bullshit bloggers Lorraine recently published a post on her experience with Slimming World and it makes for a great read if you've ever wondered what actually goes on at a group. My experience has been different because I don't go to group - I am an online member and we get absolutely zero support. None. Nada.


Binge, Baby, Binge
Slimming World isn't working for me. I've been paying (quite substantial amounts upfront, to be fair) for over a year now and I'm down nearly nothing. Why? I've learned nothing about control or moderation and I haven't been sticking to plan. I know it's not something that I would be able to continue long term - I know if I hit target I would gain it all back within months. I feel shame and I feel embarrassment whenever I have an "off day" and that's terrible. I'm not eating for health, I'm eating for fat loss. I'm having great meals and then using Syns on absolute shite because I can. My issue is and always has been binge eating, and the plan does absolutely nothing to discourage that. In fact, it's the opposite - "eat all the free foods you want!" "No weighing or counting, eat all you want" - technically, you're supposed to eat until you're full, but for those of us who have been treating food as a comfort thing since we were kids? I have no idea when I'm full. None. I could eat a dinner and then have another one two hours later. No concept of fullness. If I'm eating 2000kcal a day, that's still too much food regardless of whether it's salad (it's not salad) or potatoes or ham. I absolutely don't need freedom when it comes to food, I need moderation.

Technically, this is an on plan day:

Breakfast: Egg fried in Frylight, Extra Lean Bacon Medallions, Mushrooms, Tomato. Coffee using milk (HexA). Melon balls.

Mid-Morning: Coffee using rest of HexA allowance.

Lunch: Mugshot Pasta Cup, Chicken Salad with Low Fat Dressing (1 Syn).

Afternoon: Muller Light Yogurt, chopped apple/grapes/melon. Can of Diet Coke.

Dinner: SW Chips, mushrooms and onions, extra lean steak fried in Frylight.

Evening:  Packet of Bacon Fries (6 Syns), Can of Diet Coke, 2 x Alpen Light Cereal Bars (HexB), Freddo Bar (5 Syns).

Most people would look at that and grimace at the thought of eating that much food in a day - but I have an enormous appetite and could easily do that 7 days a week - and that's why I don't think Slimming World is the right plan for me anymore.

Do you get me? It's all 100% on plan, but I'm still eating shite. Plus, I used 12 Syns there so I'd probably be delighted with life that I hadn't used 15 that day. People say "I never use all my daily Syns" - but it's part of the plan and we are told that 5-15 Syns daily is fine so if I shouldn't be using them why are they there?  When I eat crap, I want more crap, and so the cycle continues. I'm learning nothing. I do not feel healthier. I've been overweight since I was a child - I was 13 stone at 13 - and this is not doing anything to teach me moderation or limits.

I know I'm shiting on here (I actually deleted 4 paragraphs of preaching) but I put all that food into My Fitness Pal to see what the story was. That is 100% an on plan day and very typical of the type of days I have - so here you go, here's the day in pictures and you can draw your own conclusions.


And finally, my stats (or macros, if you want) for the day. The limits were set by My Fitness Pal based on my current weight and activity levels.


So that's why I'm falling out of love with it - yes, it's a colossal amount of food. But it's all on plan. I'm eating less fat, but my sugar is MORE THAN DOUBLE what it should be (and even 55g is an extremely high limit). The sodium is grand - but I'd have added salt to my dinner.

EATING FOR HEALTH
I've finally realised that health, to me, is more important than weight. Hell, if it took me the whole of 2016 to learn that then I'm happy to have taken that year - when I think of goals, it's tied in to weight and size. "I want to be 11 stone". "I want to be a size 14". I said it yesterday - "I want to lose 5 stone". At the minute, I just really want to feel comfortable in my body, and I don't right now. I feel heavy and sluggish. I want to have normal blood pressure, I want to lower my risks of weight related diseases, and I want to be around for my boys. If I'm doing that at 11 stone or at 14 stone or whatever - I don't actually care. I just want to be healthy and to not worry about who would mind my kids if I died. I don't want to sit here feeling guilty because I went for a meal with my family and gained half a pound. It makes me feel like a bold child and it makes me feel ashamed. And, it makes me eat.


CHOOSING HEALTHIER SNACKS

Ahh, the part you actually came to read. Right, over the past while, I've been seeking out healthier snack alternatives. Personally I try to fill up on massive meals so I don't snack, but in the event that I want something in the evening, this is what I like (I'm still a massive crisp addict, by the way, I just really try not to have them in the house because they're shite). For those who follow Slimming World, I've added the Syns.

*Syn Values obtained from Slimming World website where available, otherwise using the general 20kcal = 1 Syn rule*


Fruit

No shit, Sherlock. BUT - how many times do we grab a boring pear or apple? There's a reason that Melon and Pineapple are sometimes sold together - they're yum. And cheap - a melon is €1.69-€1.99 in Tesco and a Pineapple is €1.29. Chop them up into fingers and keep them in the fridge in an airtight container, they'll keep for up to 5 days. 

Also delicious are clementines - they're yum, and they're a bargain at under €2 for a 1kg bag in Tesco or Super Valu.


Propercorn

They do really lovely flavours, with no crap ingredients. These are my favourites - The Sour Cream and Black Pepper (4 Syns per 20g) and Sweet and Salty (3 Syns per 14g bag). They also do a Peanut Butter and Almond one that's lovely.



Nutribombz

Nutribombz are a company in the UK who provide a snack subscription service. They offer several flavours of "bombz" - ranging from Choccy Brownie to Salted Caramel, Maple Pecan to Peanut Butter. They've got a trial offer on the site - four of their most popular flavours for £4.99. They offer free post to the UK so I use Address Pal to have them delivered here. You can get the one-off trial box, or you can sign up for a subscription (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) and select a group of favourite flavours for them to choose from. The first time I ordered, I got the trial box - this time, I picked my own flavours. These range from 3 Syns - 4.5 Syns, all calorie info and ingredients are on the site but for the most part they're date based with all natural ingredients. These aren't something you can binge on - I had two one evening and felt a bit sick. So they're great for a chocolate or sweet hit.


Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter

A simple, delicious, filling snack. Yes, peanut butter is high in calories and therefore Syns, but it's a good, natural food and one that's lovely to include in any diet. Top these with a chopped banana and you've a quick, yummy snack. These Kallo rice cakes are the wholegrain low fat ones, they're 1.5 Syns each. The Meridian crunchy peanut butter is 4.5 Syns per level tablespoon (high, but enough for two rice cakes and super healthy).


Ryvita and Avocado
You can use Ryvita as your Healthy Extra B option, you can have four of these Dark Rye ones. Otherwise, they are 1.5 Syns each. Avocado is one of my favourite ways to use up Syns - it's a massive 9.5 Syns per 100g of Avocado flesh, but well worth it and not something I obsess over assigning a Syn value to. Sprinkle some chilli flakes on top and you have a really filling snack that could do for lunch if you added some fruit or a hard boiled egg. 


Roasted Chickpeas

These are low calorie and not full of junk. They're hard, and a bag lasts ages - they're the perfect snack for a film. One bag contains 88kcal or 4.5 Syns. These would make a great alternative to crisps. I get them in Holland and Barrett, or they'd be fairly easy to make, just season and roast some chickpeas.



Coconut Curls

These are bloody delicious - they also come in a black pepper flavour. They're just dried coconut, really crunchy, with added seasoning. Again, I found them in Holland & Barrett. They're 5 Syns per 20g bag (either flavour).

I hope this didn't come across as too preachy. Because I've been moving away from Slimming World for a while, I've changed the name of my food instagram to sharonleavyeats. I'll still post meals (and most are still very SW friendly) I just won't be discussing Syns.






44 comments:

  1. This was so nice to see. I've been trying to eat a little bit better too.

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  2. I did SW for a while in 2016 and had been thinking about going back soon but I have the same issues with portion control. My idea of a portion of rice or pasta is probably what normal people cook for 2. Also a friend is a herbalife instructor & asked me to try it for a month (1 shake a day), I did it at the same time time as SW and their scales had me losing nothing or only half a pound, whereas my friend had me losing 3 the same week. So I started becoming disillusioned with it all. Plus I'm a savage & like my grub. I need to sort my shit out, eating a decent breakfast would be a big start. I need to get myself into the right frame of mind, like you have done. Best of luck with your weight loss Sharon.

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    1. I was a bit shocked tonight when I weighed out one portion of potatoes for chips - jesus I'd eat 4 times that normally!! I felt deprived!! I think for me anyway 99% of it is my head so hopefully I've learned enough now through the last year to make a better choice this time. Best of luck whatever route you take x

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  3. Weel said. I loved Lorraine's blog post and shared it even though I don't necessarily agree with SW, because it showed in a no-BS way that it can be a healthy way to manage food if it suits you. I know it wouldn't suit me. If I ate the food in that you list out in a day I would be bloated and sore and sluggish. I'm writing a similar post to this at the moment about changing my perspective on fitness and food and I'll definitely link back to this,

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    1. Really looking forward to your post, Claire. I completely agree, it's a great plan if you make it work for you but I was just fed up of trying to make it work! x

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  4. I'm with u on this sharon deffo going to follow operation transformation I think it's a healthier approach

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    1. It probably has its flaws too but I think it'll be a good change after Christmas and over indulging for so long. Best of luck!

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  5. I was at sw group and found it too much hassle to get there every week and found the whole group setting awful but any way I've being doing it at home not paying online just help from my book and if im stuck for syn value use google and honestly find it the best plan and I have been overweight since a child I've done everything from weight watchers, lipotrim, diet pills, mfp then slimming world and I get what you are saying about sw not helping with binge eating such as being able to eat all the free foods and how you can spend all your syns on shite but everyone has to be reposible for themselves and use their common sense like slimming world doesnt say to use 5-15 syn eat on sweets or that kinda shite it just a guidline and it about moderation as you said you have no awareness of being full and could eat a dinner again two hours later but is it not common sense and self control to know your not really hungry because you've only eaten not so long ago no plan is perfect because it just as easy to become obsessed with counting calories and weighing food as it is to not help with binge eating. Different eating plans work for different people but really it's down to the person to take responsibility for their self-control self-awareness and their actions.

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    1. I really wish you'd put your name to this because there's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone, and fair play to you for making a change. I have to disagree with you re Syns - even in the Syns section on their website it has a graphic saying "Syns can be used on Alcohol, Biscuits, Cakes, Chocolate, Crisps, Pastries, Sugar, Fats" (it's under the Syns part in "My Weight Loss Plan"). I've often tried the #SmartSyns approach - using them on Avocados, Olive Oil, Nutribombz, stuff like that. But unfortunately common sense or self control don't come into play with food addiction - if only they did! I've been a binge eater for over 20 years and really never addressed that until last year, so telling me I could have all the rice and potatoes I could eat was like manna from heaven! I really admire people who have been overweight for years and who manage to turn that binge switch off, for me it was just learning my triggers - and I know that crisps, biscuits, alcohol - all that are triggers for me so the only way I can keep weight off is to cut them out completely, moderation doesn't work for me at all. Anyway - I'm still signed up to SW until June so if I can ever help with info just drop me an email, best of luck!

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    2. Thanks for the reply but I didn't put my name to it basically because I don't want people knowing business�� but I get what you are saying but just because it says in the syns section that you doesn't mean you have to use them for that and I understand that with food addiction, binge eating that self-control and
      Common sense doesn't come into play it more really the dark side of food addiction , binge eating rather then the dark side of slimming world because with any eating plans or diet if common sense or self control can't come into play because of food addiction or binge eating it going to be very hard to do it and maintain weightloss but it can be done I used to binge eat I've been heavy since a child and it wasnt just a case of just clicking a switch off you have to really want to do it there only so much eating plans can do there has to come a point where you have to help yourself and where you start minding yourself not just everyone else and I do know different stuff work for different for people In my experience I did ww and mfp and lost nothing or what I did I put back on but when I think about it honestly hand on heart I only half heartly did it and that why it didn't work because of my issues not the plan.but you just have to find what works you. Best of luck

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    3. If you know your triggers Sharon, the smart thing to do is limit them or cut them out. That is what I do. It doesn't matter if they fit my syns, I'm better off not having them regularly, they cause me to binge. Also, you don't have to have the full 15 syns a day just because they are there. Make good choices with your syns and you don't have to be filling up on artificial sweeteners or the like. It's entirely possible to follow the plan and not have the things people are objecting to such as the diet cola chicken or the muller lights. One thing about the free foods is that you are supposed to be having corresponding amounts of speed with it. Would you really eat unlimited pasta if you also were eating the same quantities of protein and speed? Because that is what it means to be on plan, not having loads of carbs and then a small amount of protein and veg. Best of luck with however you proceed.

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    4. I actually used the majority of my Syns on the stuff I mentioned at the end of the post - I used to tag them #smartsyns on instagram. And yes, I'd eat unlimited pasta and just add extra veg. I've an enormous appetite. All my meals were posted on instagram, it's all there! But I was losing nothing long term, I'm just the type of person who needs some kind of limit! Thanks for your comment and best of luck with SW.

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  6. I'm back trying to follow sw. I'm not rejoining or doing it online. But I know if I don't follow some kind of plan I can't eat well. I'm adjusting the plan to suit me and what works for me. I don't tend to use more than 5 -7syns on snacks bit I do use all my syns by including them in meals. I found this wirks better for me then 15 syns binge at 10pm! This doesn't come across preachy at all.

    I'm drawn to sw for the fresh cook from scratch approach. When I used to do ww in the old days I wouldn't eat fruit as it was a waset of points. I know islts changed since.

    Best of luck and not sure if you know I have a second ig for my sw stuff seeingspots_sw. Going to make sure I'm following you now xx

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    1. Best of luck Steph - I definitely agree that the cooking from scratch is brilliant, and it's one of the reasons I love the core plan. I'll follow your SW instagram, best of luck! x

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  7. I have to say reading your post made so much sense to me. I have always been over weight and although I did loose 3.5 stone on slimming world when I quit it I put it all back on plus 2 stone. I think I am going to try a healthy eating plan rather than go back to slimming world as I'd rather save my 9 euro a week and treat myself when I reach each milestone. Good luck with your weight loss journey I will be following you and supporting you all they way xxx

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    1. Best of luck Sharon, I hope you get on really well and if I can help at all please just shout x

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  8. So I've really enjoyed reading this. I never understood how people could loose weight when there were foods that were unlimited in amount. I would never loose weight that way. I have tried so many. But the only thing that works for me is cutting out nasty white starchy carbs. I eat fruit and veg, but I can count on one hand how many times I've had pasta, potatos and bread in the last 5 months. It's not for everyone - some people love bread or potatoes.. I only wanted them when I told myself I couldn't have them. It's really the only thing that works for me.
    Good luck with the Operation Transformation will be following your snaps as always xx Siobhan

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    1. Thanks a million Siobhan! For me it's the crackers, crisps, pizza, bread - if I know I can have even a limited amount of them I go to town and it's like a switch is flipped and I want it all. So the only way I can be a bit healthier and want to keep going is to not have crap in the house at all (unfortunately) xx

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  9. Love your honesty Sharon.

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  10. I would suggest a group called unislim.you have to measure everything. you measure how many carbs etc you have for breakfast,lunch and dinner. I used to be the same when i was with slimming world, i taught it was crazy that they were saying to me that i could eat as much pasta and patotoes as i wanted. Unislim is a much better plan.

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    1. I lost most weight with Weightwatchers years ago, I agree that a plan that encourages awareness of portion sizes would definitely suit someone like me much better than being told you don't have to weigh anything!

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  11. You can make better choices with your syn such as healthy oils, nuts and seeds. You don't have to use them on crisps. These are the choices you make yourself and it is important to be mindful of your health when making such choices. Just because crisps fit in to your syns doesn't mean you have to have them. Also, portion control is something you need to get to grips with or you'll struggle for life to maintain your weight even once you are at one that you are happy at.

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    1. I do appreciate that you're trying to be helpful but you're preaching to the converted here - I have several ways to use Syns in better ways in the post. Slimming World does not advocate portion control, it advocates Food Optimisation so if I wanted three potatoes I'd just put another handful of carrots on the plate too. Of course just because something fits in Syns doesn't mean you have to have them but in all honesty are you telling me that for someone to follow SW successfully they must cut out whatever it is that they crave? Because that goes against every single SW account I follow on Instagram (including consultants). Plus, I hate the idea that cereal bars are promoted as a Healthy Extra but that's another story - For someone who needs to get to grips with portion control, Slimming World is absolutely the wrong plan and that's the point I was making in the post. As I said in response to your earlier comment - best of luck with SW, it's just not for me anymore but if it works for you, then that's fantastic.

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  12. Great post Sharon. I enjoyed Lorraine's as well because I feel like you both have completely honest opinions on SW so for someone like me that's thinking of joining, I found both really helpful! X

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    1. Best of luck whatever you decide Chloe! x

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  13. I follow sw and my 1st week I put on 1lb !! Everyone else lost 6-8lbs. My body was not able for the amount of food so I had to adjust accordingly , I make sure one third of my plate is always speed foods so this helps portion control .my syns are used on almonds / Brazil nuts / fruit syrup on porridge etc so i have found what works for me with the plan and what doesn't . But like you I disagree with Muller lights / mug shots etc . I am now more in the mindset as eating as healthy as possible Every day and when I have a treat I enjoy it and don't syn it life is for living !! I hope you find something that works for you ☺

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    1. Fantastic, sounds like you have a great plan going, well done!

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  14. Ah Sharon, you could be writing about me there. I've been overweight for as long as I can remember. I was once asked was I an emotional eater and I said no, I was totally in denial when I said no. I joined SW late last year and I have to say that it made me eat more fruit and veg then I had in a long time and also cut back on the junk because I would eat a fair amount of junk. Scarily amount when I think about it. But and here's the but like you if I went out and had a meal or went off plan, I would berate myself for days over it and would then sabotage myself by comfort eating. The irony of it all! I will be going back to some version of SW at home myself because I did eat much healthier following it then I have done. But I will also be tackling my emotional attachment to food otherwise I'm at nothing!

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    1. I definitely agree, I was eating far more veg and cooking more from scratch, still think their recipes are brilliant but I was bloody obsessed with anything that didn't fit in! Best of luck, I hope you do really well x

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  15. Great read Sharon love the honesty, I've done a 6 week programme at my local gym they gave us food plans and PT sessions I got great results and learned a lot about the foods I should be eating, I agree with what you are saying about SW moderation is so important. There are so many healthy options for snacks etc and sugar is evil lol one tip which I found great is every morning on a empty stomach drink a mug of hot water with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and the juice of half a lemon it has amazing benefits for your skin and also really helps unbloat your stomach. It's so hard to loose weight and us girls are very hard on ourselves anyways you will do brill xx Teresa (breast friends)

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    1. Thanks a million Teresa, I love lemon and hot water but never thought of putting cider vinegar in it! I think the one thing that has become clear over the past few days is that education about food is really necessary.

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  16. Excellent post sharon. I lije you have becone disillusioned with it. I love my pasta rice and potatoes and of course junk food. Iv ditched slimming world and im going to try do a conbination of operation transformation with some slimming world recipes as some of the main meals on operation transformation dont appeal to me. I will be limiting to portion sizes recommended. I wish you luck and will be watching eagerly.

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    1. The OT meals are actually really Slimming World friendly (bar the oils) so I'd say some of the SW ones would definitely fit in with it. Best of luck Rach xxx

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  17. Hey Sharon-- great post... I'm like you- I am never full, could eat all day. Find myself eating really healthily all day but come evening time I pigged out big time.

    Last year I bought a nutrition plan from Recalibrated Bodies, they break down your macro needs for the day but what I like is that they recommend nutrient timing, I was eating 5 times daily (1450kcal) but never hungry or deprived.

    It's a constant battle!!��

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    1. That's actually very similar to what I'm doing at the moment, but I was bloody starving the first day - I suppose it takes a while to get used to being satisfied rather than stuffed after a meal. Well done Linda x

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  18. I've struggled with my weight my life time too but sw never appealed to me, I know part of my problem is portion control and carbs, and if I was to not count them it would be a disaster. I joined Unislim and I have to say the plan makes so much more sense to me. There are a huge amount of free foods and carbs are weighed. Have you looked into this at all Sharon? Don't want to harp on in case it's something you're not interested in 😊 I promise I'm not affiliated in anyway with Unislim but it might be worth a look?

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    1. I haven't, I'm over Slimming Clubs now altogether - I feel like there's so much contradicting information out there now so I'm trying to take it back to basics and just make sure I eat less and move more! But the very best of luck with Unislim, I really hope it works for you x

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  19. Sharon I'm so glad you wrote this and so relieved I'm not alone. I tried slimming world and had minimal success. I was militant tracking and following the rules and would get very little reward or none. And I stayed to class and was so downhearted when I would hear people had treats and lost 4lbs. And gobshite here doing everything and barely half pound gone. I stopped going as I was so frustrated. I too think my portions were different to everyone elses. I've started using myfitnesspal and my fitbit and it's made me realise how much I'm eating , what a portion size is, how much protein/carbs etc I'm having and impact of my exercise. I feel by eating unprocessed natural food and tracking through my fitnesspal I'm more likely to have a healthy diet. Thank you for this post

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    1. No matter who I talk to they all say stuff like "you need to use cop on and know that you can't have double portions" but then you see dinners on Insta that look like they're for 3 people and those people have losses? I'll never understand it, I think it just suits certain people and not others xx

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  20. Hi, thanks for sharing one of your daily meal plans. You say that it was a lot of food, but it was only 1300 cals. Thats definitely not a lot of food! Its a very minimal diet. Women need to eat 2000cals roughly to stay the same weight. It would be hard to get all your daily vitamins and minerals on 1300cal a day. Im 5'3" and lose weight on 1300cals. If I exercise hard then I can eat 2500 plus and still get leaner. So, please don't make us feel guilty for eating a normal amount of food. Quality is not the same a quantity.

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    1. 1881 calories. As shown in the graphic. Don't know where you got 1300 from??!! Not entirely sure where guilt comes into it either, did you read the post? I don't actually remember stating anything about RDA for someone trying to lose weight.

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  21. Great post Sharon. I'm just trying to stick with My Fitness Pal, it's bloody tough and like you I have a huge appetite, I literally have a bottomless appetite, especially for rubbish but like you I feel so shit from eating like shit after feeling so healthy for the first half of the year and I need to change. I don't want to choose food over time with my hubby and son so I just need to cop on. It's just bloody hard because you have to eat, it's not like smoking where you give it up completely so it's a new challenge with every meal!

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    1. I've often said that stopping smoking was so much easier than getting a handle on food - it's unavoidable! Best of luck, it's a fecking struggle xx

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