Diets A-to-Z: Slimming World
What is Slimming World all about?
Slimming World clubs operate throughout the UK and Ireland. Weight loss is encouraged through a low-calorie diet, although calories aren't counted. Group support is given at local weekly meetings to help keep motivation on track.
As part of its food optimising system, Slimming World has designed eating plans that offer members unlimited 'free foods' including pasta, rice, potatoes, eggs, fruit, veg, beans and pulses, lean meat, fish and poultry.
Additional 'healthy' extras such as wholemeal bread, cereals, milk and cheese are added each day to ensure a healthy balance.
The emphasis is on eating low-calorie, low-fat, filling foods without, for the most part, having to weigh out portions. On top of this, other foods - mainly alcohol, sugary and fatty foods - are given a 'syn' rating and you are allowed a certain number of syns a day. Artificial sweeteners are substituted for sugar.
The vast array of free foods means you should never feel hungry. There is no measuring of food in this plan. Once you hit your target weight you can continue attending the club's weekly classes for free as long as you stay within 3lbs either side of it.
The weekly group encourages members to share successes, ideas and recipes with each other, and offer advice and support when members have had a 'bad week'. Midweek support is given by the Consultant by way of letters, texts, emails or phone calls. There are good recipes and web information, including a free website for members.
Though the plan claims its use of the word syns is a light-hearted way to banish guilt rather than encourage it we still think it is an unhealthy association - there is already enough guilt associated with food. On top of free food and healthy extras, most people are encouraged to have ten syns a day - a glass of wine is equivalent to five.
Indefinite. The club encourages members to change their eating habits for good, making it a sustainable way of eating long-term, rather than being 'on' or 'off' a diet.
Get more information at www.slimming-world.co.uk.
Restaurants: Yes, many foods on every menu fit into the meal plan, and flexibility is encouraged to ensure special occasions can be fully enjoyed without feelings of guilt for 'over doing it' later.
Alcohol: Yes, but it counts as syns.
Need to buy special foods: No.
Family friendly: Yes.
OK for vegetarians: Yes.
The pros say
The plan is basically a traditional low-calorie diet requiring you to watch your fat intake. Thousands of people have successfully lost weight and benefited from the support obtained through Slimming World, and good evidence backs up the idea that clubs, in general, help to people to keep weight off once it has been lost.