In the past I have believed that Slimming World did do some real good but now I am not so sure.
Obviously, anything that helps people with problems, is a good thing.
It is also comparatively low cost and this does make it accessible to a wide variety of people.
However, I believe their approach is more likely to damage people’s relationship with food than improve it.
Clearly, when you have a very large group, you need a methodology that is quite simple.
The methodology of Slimming World is based around an idea called ‘Food Optimising’.
This comprises of a list of:
‘Free Food’ – you can eat as much as you like.
‘Healthy Extras’ – things like bread and breakfast cereal that must be measured.
‘Syns’ – typically higher calorie foods and alcohol.
The problem with this idea, is it is not building an awareness of calories.
All food has calories.
Yes, lean meats and vegetables are lower in calories but they are not ‘free’.
The free food in the Slimming World list actually includes pasta, potatoes, eggs and fruit.
These also have calories.
Unlimited portion sizes do not help build awareness of energy intake or encourage the slow and mindful enjoyment of food.
Reading their ‘how does it work?’ page on the web site, there is no mention of energy balance.
Of calories in versus energy out.
Awareness of the calories we are eating is vital for long term success.
If we do not understand about energy balance then we will put the weight back on again when we go back to ‘eating normally’.
It would be completely possible to eat only their ‘free food’ and not lose weight – or even gain!
The idea of ‘syns’ is damaging for people’s relationship with food.
It promotes the idea of good food and bad food.
Calling food bad, or a treat, or talking about being on or off the wagon just perpetuates an ‘All or Nothing’ mindset.
The final thing I do not like about Slimming World, is that all your success or lack of it, it based on one weigh-in a week.
We all know that bodyweight fluctuates for many reasons;
- Going to the toilet – or not!
- Food in the system, plus associated water.
- A big meal before weigh in one week and nothing another.
- Lack of sleep
- The clothes you are wearing!
You could have a situation where you gain a couple of pounds but have actually been very adherent.
The only real way to track bodyweight is to track your average, weighing at the same time of day, naked, after the bathroom.
It is also important to track measurements and take photos.
Look at how your clothes are fitting as well.
The other thing to track is how well you are doing the things you have said you will do.
If you have written down your daily steps to take, then actually taking those steps each day equals real progress!