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How to lose weight and keep it off with Slimming World

Updated on August 6, 2010

If you’ve decided that you want to lose weight it’s tempting to opt for one of the quick-fix fad diets which promise a rapid weight loss such as the ‘Master Cleanse’ or ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’; however these regimes are not a sensible, healthy option and any weight loss is likely to be regained with interest as soon as you resume your previous eating habits.

The bottom line is that if you want to lose weight and maintain the loss you need to alter your eating habits for the better, stick to them for life and introduce some form of exercise into your daily routine.

Joining a slimming group can help to give you a kick-start to form healthy eating-habits, providing support and guidance throughout the weight-loss journey. There are many slimming classes around but I would recommend Slimming World, having been a member myself, finding it effective and easy to adapt to suit the whole family.

Food Optimising - a healthy approach to eating

Slimming World is all about ‘Food Optimising’, basically this means eating an abundance of ‘free foods’ which are unrefined and unprocessed foods such as fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, rice, pasta, pulses, eggs, fat-free yogurts and very low fat cottage cheese - literally as much as you like; keeping to a daily allowance of bread, cereals and dairy foods; and counting everything else as a ‘Syn’.  When you join you are given a booklet which lists all foods and explains how to go about optimising what you eat and if you are unsure about anything your consultant is on hand to guide you.

Eat plenty of healthy foods

Each day you decide if you are going to follow Green, Red or Extra-Easy...

Green - unlimited eggs, rice, pasta, pulses, baked beans, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, salad, fat-free yogurts, very low fat cottage cheese; plus two A choices (dairy) and two B choices (lean meat, fish, poultry, bread, cereal).

This option is for vegetarians and also suits anyone who is not a big meat eater but loves to fill up on carbs such as pasta and rice.

Red - unlimited eggs, lean meat, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, salad, fat-free yogurts, very low fat cottage cheese; plus two ‘Healthy Extra’ A choices (dairy) and two ‘Healthy Extra’ B choices (rice, pasta, pulses, potatoes, bread, cereal).

This option is great for carnivores, most men seem to prefer it!

Extra Easy - unlimited lean meat, fish, poultry, rice, pasta, pulses, potatoes, fruit, vegetables and salad, eggs and fat-free yogurts; plus one ‘Healthy Extra’ A choice (dairy) and one ‘Healthy Extra’ B choice (bread, cereal).

This is ideal for anyone who loves their meat and carbs together, but you have to take into account that you can only have one A and one B Healthy Extra, so either milk or cheese not both and bread or cereal not both. Personally I’d recommend getting to grips with Red and Green days to start with before moving onto this plan, but you can chose this plan if you prefer, or, go extra-easy at weekends as it allows you a bit more freedom of choice.

Healthy Extras

It’s important to try to use up your A and B allowances as they can’t be carried over to the next day.  I drink a lot of tea, so I use my milk allowance in cuppas throughout the day; or with my cereal allowance if I don’t fancy a cooked breakfast and I like to use my cheese allowance grated on top of pasta and vegetable sauce.  I would use my bread allowance if I wanted to take a sandwich to work for lunch.  You should eat regularly and until you feel fully satisfied, it’s not a deprivation diet.  If you’ve been on fad diets in the past it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you should be feeling hungry all the time.

Be a 'Synner'

Of course sticking to the ‘good’ foods might get a bit boring and you would be liable to fall off the wagon, so you’re allowed between 5-15 ‘Syns’ per day, this can any type of food or drink you like. Your booklet lists all the ‘Syn’ values; you can either include them as part of a meal, e.g. a sauce or gravy to go with your meat and vegetables, or as a treat such as chocolate or a G&T! If you can manage without ‘Syns’ for a few days they can be saved up which is great if you like to have a few glasses of wine on a Saturday night, or Sunday lunch with the family.

Its not rocket science

Obviously this diet works because you are cutting out all processed and fatty foods, unless you include them as ‘Syns’; and the high ‘Syn’ value of ‘goodie’ foods means that they can’t be consumed in large quantity. The emphasis is on cooking meals from scratch with free foods; you could make a delicious homemade soup which would be free, but a tin of vegetable soup could be 15 ‘Syns’ (depending on make/size), therefore being organised and making homemade soup will save your ‘Syns’.

How do I join

Slimming World classes are held all over the UK and Ireland and there are now groups in the US. There’s a joining fee of around £10 although special offers are often available, you pay a weekly fee, of around £5, to attend class. You have to pay for weeks that you don’t turn up, although you can book up to six weeks ‘holiday’ each year. When you reach your target you can attend classes free of charge as long as you keep the weight off.

Slimming World is suitable for everyone, no matter how much or little weight you have to lose. You receive an award (sticker and certificate) for each half-stone lost and there is a ‘Club 10’ award when you’ve lost 10% of your starting weight. You decide your target weight, but this has to be within a healthy BMI range. At each meeting you are weighed, which can take a little time if a lot of people attend the class, but gives you time to have a chat and a cuppa with the other members. After weighing you can stay for the ‘Body Image’ session; the consultant reads out each person’s loss/gain that week and to date (your actual weight is never divulged) and asks you to share what seems to be working, or, where you may have gone wrong. Prizes are given to the slimmer of the week; usually a selection of healthy foods such as fruit brought along by members.

Lose weight more quickly

Body Magic

Slimming World encourages members to incorporate gentle exercise into daily routine and there is a Body Magic progress chart included in your joining pack, where you can record any physical activity you complete, however I found that exercise was not the main focus of the meetings and was only discussed in passing, in fact ‘no exercise required’ is a selling point. I think this is a great shame because exercise is without doubt key to aiding weight loss and living a healthy life.

Slimming World - Pros and Cons


  • It’s a great way to start to eat healthily with the emphasis on cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients.
  • There is limited weighing/measuring of certain foods and free foods can be consumed freely.
  • ‘Syn’ values make you aware of what is good to eat and what should be avoided, although most is common sense, seeing the ‘Syn’ value of your favourite ‘junk’ foods makes you think twice about eating them.
  • If you find it difficult to diet on your own a group might offer the additional support you need.


  • If you and a partner are attending each week it can be expensive (around £40 per month), but still may be cheaper than buying lots of take-away food!
  • It can be expensive to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you learn to buy what’s in season and shop at markets instead of supermarkets.
  • There is not enough emphasis on exercise and physical activity,
  • There can be a lot of waiting around after weighing in for Image Therapy to start, especially at peak times e.g. New Year.
  • You need to be organised, decide what you plan to eat and stick to it; you can’t start on a Red day and change to a Green day at lunchtime.
  • If you don’t stick to the plan and go back to your old eating habits you will regain the weight.

I think that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and if you ‘Food Optimise’ for a few weeks you will definitely see results and feel more energised without ever feeling hungry.


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