If you want to lose weight without reducing your portion sizes, then you should try Slimming World.
The popular diet leaves you pampered occasionally – and doesn't promote calorie counting. How does it work?
Slimming World members receive a list of "free foods" that can be consumed in unlimited quantitiesPhoto credit: Getty Images
What is the Slimming World Diet?
The Slimming World Diet is run by a Derbyshire-based weight loss company founded in 1969 by Margaret Miles-Bramwell.
It focuses on a food optimization diet where members are given a list of syn-free foods that can be eaten in unlimited quantities.
Syns stand for synergy effects, as the free foods, healthy extras and syns lead to effective weight loss.
The program encourages dieters to swap high-fat foods for low-fat foods that fill up naturally.
You can get support from other slimmers at weekly group meetings and follow an exercise plan to gradually become more active through your Body Magic initiative.
The Slimming World Diet is designed to help you lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. There are currently around 900,000 members participating each week.
The program encourages dieters to swap high-fat foods for low-fat foods that fill up naturallyCredit: Alamy
How does the Slimming World diet work?
Slimming World's diet involves dieters choosing foods from a list of low-fat foods they call Free Foods, such as fruits, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meats, fish, and eggs.
These foods can be eaten in unlimited quantities.
There is no calorie counting, no food is prohibited, and you are still allowed to eat the occasional.
While no foods are banned, some have restricted levels known as syns.
Many of the Syns items (also known as synergy items) are treats, but some can be healthy extras that you can use to increase the serving size.
Users are given a total number of daily syns to consume. These can be calculated using specific weight loss plans.
Mostly this value is between five and 15 per day.
Examples of syns are a glass of wine made from a piece of chocolate.
Healthy extras include milk and cheese for calcium, whole grain bread and breakfast cereals for fiber and other important minerals, and nuts and seeds for healthy oils.
What does the Slimming World Diet cost?
To join a Slimming World group, dieters must pay.
There are special offers for new members, including half-price membership when you join a real-world group.
Then pay just £ 9.95 for the first week and £ 4.95 a week thereafter.
There are also discounts for senior citizens who only pay £ 4.65.
If you join a group of four of your friends or family and they all get your first week free, it will be £ 5 the first week and £ 4.95 per week thereafter.
Teenagers between the ages of 11 and 15 also receive free Slimming World membership when accompanied by a paid parent / legal guardian.
There are alternative plans for those who want to follow online instead of group sessions.
There is no calorie counting and no foods are prohibited on the Slimming World dietPhoto credit: Iceland
Is Slimming World Diet Safe?
The BDA says the meal plans, while not flexible enough, are generally balanced.
The group meetings encourage members to share successes, ideas, and recipes, but they may not appeal to everyone.
However, without learning about calories and portion sizes, you can struggle to make healthy choices once you exit the program.
Since no food is prohibited, the meals offer balance and variety and are family-friendly.
The serving size of each food group depends on what plan you are following.
Can I use the Slimming World Diet during pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, but only to help you eat healthy and stay physically active, rather than to lose weight.
Slimming World says it does not advise women to change their weight during pregnancy.
As part of their policy, it says that ant members who wish to continue the program during their pregnancy must have their midwife's assistance.
Counselors are also asked to assist pregnant members in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet to keep their weight safe as recommended by their midwife.
Slimming World, in collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives, has developed its guidelines to provide our members with the best possible support in managing their weight during pregnancy.
Former accident actress Rebecca Wheatley lost more than half her weight on Slimming WorldPhoto credit: PA: Press Association Wire
What are the latest changes in the slimming world?
Slimming World groups had to close in mid-March due to the coronavirus lockdown and switched to virtual emergency groups.
But the doors were reopened in August and the members were invited to "real groups" with additional security measures.
A maximum of 25 to 30 members were allowed in each group, with meetings lasting around 45 minutes.
In order to maintain social distancing, members are asked to tell their advisor which sessions they will be attending.
There are also disposable systems for moving around the room, hand sanitizer and wipes, and markings on the floor.
"Sneezing screens" were introduced to keep people on the scales at a safe distance while the seats are spaced 1 m apart.
Members are also asked to wear face covering and bring their own drink and pen.
The shoes must remain on the scales. Members are advised to wear the same pair for the time being.
Advisors and members are also asked to wipe their own chair at the end of each session.
Does the Slimming World diet work and are there any success stories?
According to Slimming World, members lose eight percent of their body weight in six months and 13 percent of their body weight in one year.
Former accident actress Rebecca Wheatley was named Slimming World's Woman of the Year in 2005 after losing more than half her weight.
The 5ft 11in star lost a whopping 12 stones and fell from size 32 to size 12 in two years after being ashamed of the way she looked at her wedding.
A mother of two who feared she would not see her children grow up because she was so heavy has lost more than half her body weight in just ten months.
Another mother, June Adams, lost 6½ after a spa snapshot reminded her of Shrek's Princess Fiona.
Determined to get past the bulge, she saw an ad for Slimming World and immediately signed up – and 18 months later she dropped six dress sizes and lost a staggering 6.5kg.
And a size 18 woman dropped five stones just in time for her wedding day and has since demonstrated her dramatic transformation.
Slimming world controversy
In September 2018, dieters in the Slimming World program were outraged after the company removed Müller-Yoghurt from their list of Syn-Free foods.
It is now rated as 1 syn per pot, which means that followers of the diet will not be able to eat as many as they want.
Extra healthy choices
In 2018, Slimming World introduced a number of changes to its food rating system.
Dieters have been told that the Extra Easy plan will give them an additional option each day for a healthy Extra "A" plus an increase in the amount of whole milk.
However, dairy-free drinks like rice and almond milk were reduced to 400ml, while low-fat / light soft cheese and soft goat cheese were no longer classified as healthy extras.
And due to new nutritional information, a handful of free foods that were previously labeled "P" (or high protein), such as baked beans, broad beans, mung beans, and all types of peas (except peas), have been labeled this way longer.
However, these foods were still classified as free, which means they can be enjoyed without weighing, counting, or measuring.
In order to further increase the weight loss of these slimers following the Extra Easy SP plan, the maximum number of syns per day was reduced from 15 to just ten.
Dieters have been shaken by claims that they find the popular "low-fat" sausages nine times worse than originally thought.
According to Slimming World, porky lights should count as 4.5 syn points instead of just 0.5 – meaning thousands of dieters have unknowingly broken their strict diets.
The "healthy" bang was a huge hit among the 900,000 diet club members as it was claimed it only contained 2.5 grams of fat.
Asda's Slimzone range
These aren't the only controversies to dominate the headlines in Slimming World.
The popular diet brand took legal action when Asda launched Slimzone ready-to-eat meals that could be consumed "under the Slimming World Extra Easy Plan".
The supermarket giant has meanwhile taken the meals off the shelves.