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Whether you've just signed up to Slimming World or are thinking about starting the plan, you may be wondering what exactly you can and can't eat on it. We look at typical breakfast, lunch, dinners and, of course, snack ideas that are allowed on this particular shape-up plan.
Some diet and lifestyle change plans can be quite restrictive about what you can and can't eat, but Slimming World is actually one of the few diets that gives you the flexibility to eat more, without counting calories.
If you've signed up to it or are contemplating doing so, but are a bit concerned about what EXACTLY you'll be able to tuck into, panic not..
From hearty breakfasts to delicious dinners and those all too important Syns and Free Foods, here's the lowdown on what's recommended with Slimming World.
The Slimming World plan: what you can eat
The Slimming World Food Optimising eating plan is based around the idea of eating foods that best satisfy your appetite and have the fewest amount of calories per gram, whilst giving you the nutrients you need.
The Slimming World plan involves eating a mixture of Syns, Free Foods, Healthy Extra A and Healthy Extra B foods.
You can have as many Free Foods as you like each day, plus Healthy Extras – but you should limit your Syns.
Find out more about Syns and Free Foods.
Carolyn Pallister, Public Health Manager and Dietitian at Slimming World, said:
'The Food Optimising plan enables members to fill up on lower energy dense Free Foods – including lean meat, fish, potatoes, pasta, rice, eggs, fruit, veg and more without having to count, weigh and measure, so they learn how to make healthy choices, lose weight – and keep it off – free from hunger.
'That’s why Slimming World calls the foods that are the most satiating and low in energy density Free Food.'
Healthy Extra A foods are calcium-rich and Healthy Extra B foods fibre-rich foods.
Up until recently, you could have one measured portion a day from each group.
For example, a piece of cheese from Group A or a portion of breakfast cereal from Group B.
But now, you can have two portions from the Health Extra A category.
'Alongside Free Food, members are encouraged to enjoy measured amounts of certain foods, that help to provide a good balance of nutrients.
These include foods that provide calcium, like milk and cheese, and foods that are high in fibre like cereals and wholemeal bread.'
Syns are the little treats you can have each day such as a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine. You are allowed up to 15 Syns per day.
'All foods that aren’t Free have a Syn value. Syns are the way Slimming World members can enjoy higher calorie, high sugar and high fat foods that can jeopardise weight loss if they’re not enjoyed in controlled amounts.
'By limiting the amount of Syns they eat, members have the power to choose to still enjoy their favourite treats, without impacting their weight-loss goals and without feeling deprived,' she says.
You can also buy recipe books to help you plan what you eat. The Slimming World Free Foods cookery book has over 120 recipes and is available here at Amazon.
Do I need to count calories?
Research led by the University of Leeds found that calorie counting and eating smaller portions is not the answer when it comes to weight loss, which is why Slimming World does NOT encourage calorie counting.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition at Slimming World, says:
'We might think we need to be overly strict with ourselves when we’re losing weight – counting and measuring all our food and reducing portion sizes right down – but this type of restrictive approach ultimately leaves us feeling more hungry and deprived.
'These are the top reasons many of us ‘fall off the wagon’ and then feel guilty and ashamed, which often leads to a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting,' she says.
Rather than counting calories, the Slimming World plan encourages you to fill up on countless low energy-dense Free Foods.
'By making small changes to the way they shop, cook and eat, members can still have all their favourite meals, and nothing is banned. Better yet, they don’t have to buy any special products, and there’s absolutely no calorie counting!'
That said, if you're looking for low-calorie ideas, check out these recipes.
What can I eat for breakfast on Slimming World?
Because the Slimming World plan is so flexible, almost every meal can be adapted to be Slimming World-friendly, with a few swaps and changes.
Here are just some of the most popular choices for breakfast on the Slimming World plan:
- overnight oats
- big breakfast
- scrambled eggs on toast with avocado and tomato
- mixed berry porridge
- egg breakfast muffins
- a bowl of chopped fruit
- beans on toast
- fruit with fat-free yoghurt
What can I eat for lunch on Slimming World?
It's not all limp lettuce and quinoa when you're on Slimming World, you know.
Here are just some examples of tasty and filling lunch options you can enjoy:
- jacket potato with beans
- tuna pasta salad
- stuffed peppers
- minestrone soup
- cheese and onion pasties
- Scotch eggs
- chicken and bacon wraps
- BLT pasta salad
Check out these healthy recipes for more inspiration.
What can I eat for dinner on Slimming World?
Nothing's off limits with Slimming World, but the Food Optimising plan encourages dieters to swap some ingredients for healthier options, for example using one-calorie spray oil instead of glugs of vegetable oil or butter, or cauliflower rice instead of long grain.
Also, another key to success is packing in as many Free Foods such as vegetables to make your dinner as filling as possible.
Some great meals that can be made Slimming World friendly include:
- spaghetti Bolognese or Quorn spaghetti Bolognese
- chicken katsu curry
- chilli con carne
- chicken curry
- sweet and sour chicken
- chana saag
- mac 'n' greens
- vegetarian burgers
- quorn moussaka
Check out these healthy dinner recipes for more ideas.
What snacks can I eat on Slimming World?
The beauty of Slimming World is there is so much choice of food for you to snack on.
If you want to save as many Syns as possible, you may want to stock up on Free Foods – which you can eat as many of as you like!
However, if you're craving something a bit naughty, don't worry because you can use your Syns – which you're allowed around 15 of per day – to satisfy that sweet (or savoury) tooth.
Here are some great examples of low-Syn and Free Food snacks to keep you going through the day:
- fruit, Free Food
- skinless chicken drumsticks, Free Food
- cooked ham, Free Food
- carrot or cucumber sticks with quark, Free Food
- boiled eggs, Free Food
- pickled onions, Free Food
- fat-free yoghurt, Free Food
- crab sticks, Free Food
- Curly Wurly, six Syns
- Mug Shot soups, around two Syns
- Pasta 'n' Sauce, around two Syns
- Hartley Jellies, between half a Syn to five Syns depending on flavour
- Freddo chocolate bar, five Syns
- Walkers cheese & onion crisps, six Syns
Why not buy yourself a diet planner to help you get organised? This planner is designed to work with the Slimming World diet and is available at Amazon. It has pages to log weight-loss, track your goals and even motivational tips.
Are you currently doing Slimming World and have a meal idea or meal plan that works well for you? Share it in our forum, below:
Does the Slimming World diet work?
CHAT: Slimming World meal ideas
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