Slimming World – The Basics

Please note: This post has been edited to reflect the changes SW has announced this week.

One of the questions I get asked often is how does Slimming World (SW) work? So I’m going to give you an overview of the plan. It is a very easy and simple plan to follow. If you’ve ever tried any diets in an effort to lose weight before and maybe were not as successful as you’d hoped or just want to give SW a go, please be open minded! You may be surprised at how generous the eating plan is, but it all works perfectly well together when you follow the simple 3 steps bellows.

Step 1 Free Foods

Most of the food you will be eating from will come from a list of foods called Free Foods. These are called Free Foods because they are unlimited – you can have as much or as little of these foods as you like without weighing or measuring a single thing! Sounds great, right? So what exactly are these Free Foods you may be wondering? These are foods that are naturally lower in calories and high in satiety (that means appetite satisfaction). You can fill up on these foods whenever you like as long as they’ve been cooked without any fat or oil. You will be able to find the full list of the hundreds of Free Foods available to choose from in the Food Optimising book you receive when you join a SW group. The following is just a summary of what is included:

  • Fruit – only when fresh or frozen whole (cooked, canned, dried & pureed fruits are NOT free foods)
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Meat & Poultry (including some vegetable proteins)
  • Dairy products – fat free natural yogurts, low fat plain cottage cheese, quark
  • Eggs
  • Rice, pasta & grains
  • Beans, peas & lentils

Enjoy filling up on these foods any time, day or night, without any limits! Free Foods will keep you feeling fuller longer than other foods – especially protein rich foods such as lentils, eggs, meat and poultry.

To ensure a healthy balance of food, SW recommend you fill at least 1/3 of your plate with Speed Free Foods where you can and make them your first choice between meals. Speed Free Foods are even lower in calories which means it will help you lose even more weight. In your food optimising book, these food will be marked with an S. These will include fresh or frozen fruit and fresh, frozen, canned or pickled vegetables.

One main point to remember with fruit is that fruit is only a Free Food when it is fresh or frozen and whole. That means cooked, canned, dried or pureed fruit will not be a Free Food when consumed in those forms.

On top of all these Free Foods, you will also be able to use some store cupboard staples freely to add flavour and variety to your meals. Things such as herbs and spices, stock pots and cubes, soy sauce, tomato purees, fat free dressings (vinaigrette, Italian or French style dressings, must be 50kcals or less per 100ml to be Free), low calorie cooking spray (must be 1 calorie or less per spray to be Free), Marmite, Tabasco & Worcestershire sauce.

Drinks that are included in the Free Foods list include:

  • Water – still or sparkling!
  • Coffee
  • Tea (including herbal teas)
  • Sugar free/ diet fizzy drinks
  • No added sugar cordial

Swap sugar for sweetener tablets in your drinks! Any milk used in your hot drinks is not a Free Food but comes under Step 2 Healthy Extra s below.

Step 2 Healthy Extras

In addition to all the Free Foods, you can choose 2 options from the Healthy Extra choices to ensure you are getting enough calcium and fibre in your diet. You can make two choices a day from the Healthy Extras A choice and one choice a day from the Healthy Extra B choice. Again, you will find a full list of these choices in your food optimising book or the SW app.

Healthy Extra A choices are dairy foods that are a good source of calcium. These include the following:

  • 350ml skimmed milk
  • 250ml semi skimmed milk
  • 400ml unsweetened calcium-enriched plain soya drink
  • 40g reduced fat Cheddar/Emmental
  • 30g Cheddar/Double Gloucester/Red Leicester/Gouda/Emmental
  • 50g Mozzarella
  • 35g Halloumi
  • 3 Mini Babybel Light cheeses
  • 2 Laughing Cow Original Triangles

Healthy Extra B choices are foods that contain a good source of fibre. These will include many high fibre wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, crispbreads, cereal bars, nuts & seeds, dried, canned & cooked fruit. Below are some options you can chose from:

  • 40g unflavoured porridge oats
  • 45b Bran Flakes
  • 40g Weetabix Crispy Minis (Banana/Chocolate Chip/Fruit & Nut
  • 2 Weetabix (including flavoured varieties)
  • 2 SW Hifi Bars/Alpen Light bars
  • 4 Ryvita Dark Rye/Original
  • 60g any wholemeal bread
  • 16 almonds
  • 35 pistachio nuts
  • 2 level tbsp. sunflower seeds

You must ensure that your healthy extra choices are weighed and measured accurately. Please do not guess or estimate!

Step 3 Syns

On top of all the Free Foods and the Healthy Extra choices, you can choose ‘Syns‘ – these allow you to enjoy the foods that many diets ban! All food that isn’t Free has a Syn Value. You can enjoy between 5-15 Syns a day (your consultant will be able to help you decide the number of Syns to aim for each day). You will find Syn Values at the back of your food optimising book or on the SW app (a fab tool available for all SW members).

So now you’ve got an overview of the SW food optimising plan you can see that it is not that difficult! It is a simple, easy to follow plan that is suitable for everyone. You will get a lot more in depth information when you join a group and receive support from a knowledgeable and supportive consultant and of course great motivation and ideas from fellow slimmer’s. Remember, this additional support occurs during Image Therapy, so always aim to stay in group until the end of the session.

Hope you find this useful, if you have questions or need me to clarify anything, please comment below.



Lost Mojo

Hands up anyone who is struggling with their weight loss?

You started off so well on your journey but lately you have lost your focus, feeling like you cannot do it anymore. You know deep down that you still really want to lose weight but you’ve had days, weeks or even months when it felt harder to stay focused. Your willpower has gone, abandoned you. Maybe its the summer holidays, friends and family are over, your own kids have their needs and planning goes out of the window.

Perhaps some other life event or living life itself simply gets in the way and your commitment to slimming gets pushed to the back of the queue. That doesn’t mean we cannot regain focus or determination again.

The last few years have been tough for me, even more since the middle of last year. Although I tried my very best to food optimise as best as I could, most of the time I was failing. I was failing at the weight loss immensely. All my meals are picture perfect but behind closed doors I was (and still am) taking comfort in the food that I know I shouldn’t be eating. I stopped caring about myself a long time ago and I am now at a low point in my journey, it feels as if for every step I take forward I end up taking 2 backwards. I know it has to stop.

When I first joined Slimming World back in 2011, it took me just over a year to lose 4 stones. I was extremely determined at the time to lose weight to both feel and look better. Once I reached my goal I maintained my weight loss for a couple of years and thought that being a SW consultant would help me stay focused on my own weight loss journey. How wrong was I? I loved my role as a SW consultant (I did that for over 5 years) and seeing so many of my members of my groups lose weight with my help gave me such a wonderful feeling, but I was neglecting myself in the process.

It began slowly but I started to dislike the way I looked and I began to feel like a fraud standing in front of my members in group when I was failing myself. I know most of my members did not think any less of me but the few that commented on my weight did upset me. There is such an expectation from members and everybody else around me that I wonder if they even care about what others may be going through, including their own Consultants? There’s no support network for consultants that are struggling, that’s something that Slimming World should look into.

I know the answer to get back on track is to join a group. I’ve tried that a couple of times recently but repeatedly failed. I was not prepared to commit or make the right changes and those bad habits were still there. I know the SW plan inside out and know what I need to do so I thought I’d share what I will be doing to get myself back on track and hope this will help anyone else who may be struggling too.

Understanding emotional grooves

Most of us know that we don’t just eat when we are hungry – comfort eating, boredom eating, social eating, picking without thinking – they’re all common behaviours that some of us slip into at times. And that is okay! Knowing when your danger times are will help you understand your emotional grooves and you can then put plans in place to protect yourself from sabotage. Developing a fruit habit and filling the fridge with Speed food snacks will help turn a potentially dangerous time into something far more manageable.


Once you understand when your danger times are, you can set about planning your day/week. I like to spend a half hour with my favourite recipe books and food optimising book and then plan what I will be eating for the week. Some people don’t like to think that far ahead and that is okay, you can plan a couple of days in advance or even plan your food for the day. Planning is the key to success though! Knowing what you will be eating will give you a great sense of control. I like to plan in detail – I write down everything on a planner and try to stick to it as much as possible. On my planner I will have all my meals written down as well as snacks, syns and healthy extras. I tend to keep syns to 5-10 on my planner, and if for any reason I need to use extra then I am covered!

Meal Planner

Meal Planner


Food Diary

Alongside my planner, I will be using a food diary to keep track of the food actual eaten. You can buy food diaries online to keep track, but you don’t need anything fancy. You can just jot it all down in a notebook and that works fine. You just need to keep note of what you’re eating and should you need it in the future you can easily refer back to it.

Body Magic

I must admit that this is one the parts that I struggle with immensely but know that it can happen if I make the time! I am usually full of excuses as to why I don’t have the time to fit in any exercise but I am hoping that by planning in some sort of body magic in my planner, will help me ensure I actually do it! I am not a very active person, so for me personally body magic will come in the form of walking. I have a treadmill at home so no excuses for not getting any walking in if the weather is bad!

Be kind to myself

One of the main things that I need to concentrate on is being kind to myself. If I have a bad day or if I don’t make a good choice I will not beat myself up about it and will be kind to myself. Having a wobble doesn’t have to mean giving up on my weight loss.

Support network

I know that the best way to keep on track on my weight loss is to be a part of a support network in a SW group, and that is how I lost my weight originally. But this time, I will be going on this weight loss journey on my own. I find the support I get on social media is fab and am hoping that by documenting my own weight loss journey online will help me to get back to where I was before. If I struggle on my own, then I will bite the bullet and get myself back to a group!

A new SW Member – Me!

So today I took the brave step to walk into a new Slimming World group as a new member. I haven’t weighed myself for a while and every so often I weigh at my own group but I strongly feel I need the support for my own journey.

The last few months I have struggled myself. I know the plan, I know it works and all my meals are cooked the SW way but old habits have started to creep in! No excuses for it really, just me giving in to temptations and not caring about the consequences. I’ve had enough of feeling this way, and I know I’ve gained some weight back as my clothes are starting to get tight!

I chose a group far away from where I live as I just want to be a member, I don’t want people to judge me for being a consultant.

I followed my Sat Nav to the venue and parked up. I have to admit I felt very nervous, just as nervous as I was back in January 2011 when I first joined a SW group. I’d previously sent a text to the Consultant to let her know that I was going to join her group. She already knew who I was and asked to be treated just like a member.

As I walked into the hall the room was busy. Lots of women were chatting away to each other. I had no idea where to go next. I felt as if all eyes were on me. I was looking out for the Consultant and could not see her at all. I started to panic as I thought maybe she wasn’t in today! I went up to one of ladies and asked for the Consultant and thankfully she was there! She was weighing her members.

I made my way to the new members area and started filling out an enrollment form. The Consultant came over and had a little chat making me feel more at ease. I didn’t get a new Member Talk, she said ‘you know the plan and what to do’. So over I went to find a seat in the horseshoe. Most of the chairs were taken up, people put their bags and coats over them. I found an empty seat and just sat there. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, looking around, checking the surroundings and the members chatting to each other. Luckily I had my phone on me so I decided to check my messages and read the news!

The group was really buzzing and more people kept coming. Eventually the Consultant started the session. I missed her ‘hello and welcome’ with all the noise from the members! They were a rowdy bunch! It reminded me of my group. I am a quiet Consultant, I sometimes struggle to get my members attention when we are ready to start too.

Yet it got worse, throughout the whole of Image Therapy the ladies sitting to my side kept chatting to each other! I found it really distracting and totally rude to the Consultant and other members actively involved in Image Therapy. Crucially there were a few times when I missed what was being said by another member because of all the little group chats. Again, that got me thinking, how must new (and existing) members at my group feel?? What important information are they missing out on? Does this put them off from staying for Image Therapy?

I got weighed at the end of group by the Consultant. I was really dreading the scales. I had no idea what to expect! I knew it would be a gain but didn’t know how much. I was surprised by the amount I’d let myself gain but at the same time I was so glad I went along. Had I weighed at my group, I would’ve ignored the damage and carried on regardless. After all, I didn’t feel I had to be accountable to anyone. I set my target again, I need to lose 1st to be where I was a few months ago. I am annoyed, disgusted, ashamed and angry at myself for losing sight of my journey. Every week I stand in front of my members and help them learn new slimming grooves, make better choices and find healthier alternatives. I was not just letting myself down but also my members.

I know that now I am part of a SW group again, as a member, I will concentrate on getting those weight losses going again for myself. I also know I can do it, I’ve done it before. If anything, now it should be easier as I know the plan inside out! I owe it to myself to not cheat the plan, I promise myself to weigh and measure everything that needs to, count my syns more carefully and most important of all, I will enjoy eating Free Foods without feeling guilty. I am done with the self sabotage, here is to a healthier me again.

To my dear Members in both Groups, my experience has made me realise that it is easy for both new and existing members to miss out on the immense benefits of Image Therapy. I wish to ask all of you to please be aware of this and to catch up with fellow members and friends before and after Image Therapy and not during it, and while Image Therapy is ongoing and you have something to share please share it with all members in attendance.

Getting back on track after a gain!

It’s that time of the week again – shoes off, feet on the scales, and a crucial number blinking back from the display. If that number is more than you were expecting it can be disappointing, but how you deal with it is key to seeing those pounds coming right back off.

Shed the guilt

When we go off track, our tendency, as human beings, is to beat ourselves up about it. We might tell ourselves that we’re ‘useless’ and that we may as well forget Food Optimising – we’ve blown it now! If we let it, it could sabotage our success from there on.

Having a weight gain now and again is normal – we’re all human after all! Knowing how to put it behind us is key to learning lifelong healthy habits.

Imagine your week like a bunch of seven beautiful roses. If one (rose/day) dies are you really going to throw out the whole bunch? Don’t let a bad day ruin your whole week. By making a better choice as often as possible the pounds will creep away. But be KIND to yourself!

I’ve had my fair share of weight gains on my journey, had I given up at the first instance I would not have reached my target!

Weight Gain

Weight Gain

Where did it go wrong?

The key to getting the scales moving downward again is to look hard for something you might be missing. That doesn’t mean blaming yourself or telling yourself you’re a failure. It should be a positive process, which leaves you feeling stronger and more confident.

Think about:

  • What time of day do you find the most tricky
  • Which day-to-day situations do you struggle with
  • Is there anything you’ve done differently from your first week (or another great weight loss week)
  • Speed Free Foods – do your meals contain at least a third of a plate
  • Are you measuring your Healthy Extras
  • What Syns do you enjoy and are you counting them (all of them)
How you can get back on track. Below are some suggestions from fellow slimmers
  • Stay to group, measure yourself (a good Non Scale Victory), go back to basics, plan, write a food diary and enjoy lots of Speed Free Food.
  • Get rid of any guilt. If you fall ‘off plan’ get right back on it (rather than thinking ‘I’ve messed up today, I’ll start again tomorrow’). Always stay to group; it’ll help you stay focused on the week ahead.
  • Stick a before & after photo on your fridge – it’ll remind you of how far you’ve come!
  • Try new foods and recipes packed with lots of Speed Free Foods.
  • Do a food diary and give Body Magic a go!
  • Ask your Consultant if you can join in the New Member Talk. You may think you know it all but you could be doing something wrong without realising.
  • Remind yourself of how far you’ve travelled on the road to a slimmer, happier life, and how much closer to the destination you are.
  • Make a commitment to yourself; decide here and now that no matter what, you’ll Food Optimise 100% for the next week. Next time you step on the scales, you’ll see just what Food Optimising can do for you and you’ll feel fabulous.