Syn Free Challenge!


New Member
Hello all!

As a new member, I'm just getting settled into life on the SW diet, and so far have been pleasantly surprised at just how nonrestrictive it is. So, I can't binge out on a tub of Ben and Jerry's a few times a week anymore, but I could have a little scoop for the sweet taste right after I've already absolutely stuffed myself on grilled chicken and sweet potatoes (with a little Broccoli thrown in of course!). Needless to say, as a former failed dieter through calorie counting yo yo style, the feeling I get now from my relationship to food is gorgeous; being satiated from foods that I love, without worrying about going over the calorie count at the end of a day and that awful feeling of failure and guilt. And low and behold, I am half a stone lighter already! All this has made me curious to experiment! Just how much can I eat Syn free without even feeling that I'm dieting!

I got hold of a copy of the SW Veggie Delux recipe book from my Mum, who has lost almost 3 stone and is near her goal weight. I was amazed by the amount of gorgeous, satiating meals in there that were even better for being completely syn free. Examples include Spaghetti with Lentil Bolognese, Ramen Noodle Soup, Five Spice Tofu Skewers, Tomato and Spinace Pasta, Butternut Squash and Chilli Risotto, Multi Bean Chilli, Asparagus and Red Onion Crustless Quiche... it goes on and on ("50 dishes with vava voom!" of low to Syn Free goodness!)

So, what is the thread running through all of these recipes, that when put together, allow me to eat as much as I can fill up on while keeping me totally on plan?

To answer that, I guess first I have to look at just what it is that makes this Slimming World diet work in the first place. At first, I was totally taken aback at the fact that I could eat as much home cooked rice or pasta as I wanted. How can that be Free I thought? It doesn't make sense. When putting the numbers into My Fitness Pal over the years, portions of rice were major calorie eaters; I think 100 g would take about a third of my daily intake at the time, so I just wouldn't bother. Same with pasta; I had to really restrict my intake so that the amount I would put into my meals would be really small and unsatisfying, as by the time I had added all the calories of all the veggies and meat I was putting into the dish, I'd not have much left at all. Caloric restriction at this level was unsustainable for me. I would frequently get frustrated at constantly curbing intake, not hitting my macros (I was in that deep!) and frankly, finding food a chore!

Slimming World is a Food Optimization diet. This means that while you could eat pasta and rice in copious amounts compared to any other diet you might try, nowhere does it encourage you to eat that and nothing else on any given day. Instead, we are encouraged to fill up on low energy density foods (mostly in the form of fruit and vegetables). All of these are to be placed as priority. On the Extra Easy plan for instance, the aim is to fill up on as much Speedy (low calorie) and Protein based Free foods as possible, ensuring that 3/4 of your plate are Speedy Free fruit and vege. Also included outside of the Syn quota is the Healthy Extra, with one Calcium based portion (milk, yogurt,cheese), with a healthy dose of fiber (including even bread and cereals). Syns are calorie based from what I can gather. One Syn equates to 20 calories, which you have to start counting outside of the Optimized intake. So while everything that you count is accumulated in value regarding its caloric content, there are other factors at play here. You can eat something as high calorie as rice without regarding it as a Syn food, because you need to have a source of carbohydrates, plus all of the other nutrients included in rice (manganese, B vitamins, Fiber and Iron to name a few!) but the fact that you are also filling up on Chicken, beans and homemade Sag Aloo in the same meal for instance, means that you are bound to eat less of it anyway. What you get out of it then is more balanced energy proportion, to spend on your daily activity.

We never really needed the sugar fix of a Ben and Jerry's, even when we were trying to outrun the Sabre Tooth Tiger, whatever the equivalent could have possibly been back then! Even then, berries on occasion and meat would have sustained us to do that within our predominantly sedentary living. Now though, you can satiate on slow release energy foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep you going, feeling fuller and more energized, and so undoubtedly more motivated. For me, Slimming World is a fairly proportioned embracing of the modern diet, because everything is included, but through encouraged behaviors of reasoned and mindful eating. So there are no "Bad" foods. Syns are nothing to do with being bad, Syn means "Synergy", meaning the foods that are not considered the most healthful, but might be enjoyable because they are sweet or fatty for instance. So they can be included, but in a much smaller amount than we might have gotten ourselves negatively accustomed to before.

So Slimming World works because it teaches you to portion your foods accordingly, with satiation, energy needs, nutrients and enjoyment in mind! The other point is that it gets you a little further away from processed foods. You can still have a nibble on the Cheese pastries and Pizza on the run through town, but you will have one slice instead of four and then you will go home and eat the rest of your intake in the form of a proper meal. Likewise, you won't starve yourself just because you had that one slice of pizza, it will just undoubtedly have been eaten more mindfully than before. You've got your bottle of water in your bag which you top up en route too, and you walk home instead of getting the bus from the tube station. What I'm getting at here is that Slimming World gingerly brings you to habitual changes, because it doesn't feel like a diminishing of your love of food! It keeps you feeling like you want more of it, in my view so far!

That brings me to the other element of the diet that works so well. It actually encourages you to cook homemade decent meals, full of the goodness of a basic shop at the grocery store. Instead of getting take away curries full of oil and sugars, you will cook your own with one calorie spray with the same flavor and fullness, including all the same ingredients. Rather than buying double steakhouse burgers and plonking on layers of cheese slices, you will make your own patties with onion and garlic, with a little cheddar melted on top. Rather than guzzling down half the booze isle and having a terrible hangover, you will savour a homemade Gin and slim time tonic or two with added cucumber or fruits, and sip it enjoyably with a sense that you don't have to now starve yourself or not enjoy your meal as much. Shopping becomes a pleasure rather than a chore; you can plan ahead and think of all the goodies that you're going to cook from scratch. In all, I feel like Slimming World is getting me back to a way of eating that my Grandma would have recognized as the norm. Slimming World is a game changer because its a habit breaker, and the new normal isn't boring. If anything it means you can have fun for longer because you're not crashing out from gorging on copious amounts of sugar and heavy fatty foods.

So, now you know I love it, I'd like to try something new and be playful with it! I'm convinced that there are so many Syn free meals and snacks out there that I can put together, I can eat completely Syn free without feeling hungry or unsatisfied one iota, and that I actually lose weight consuming all the foods that I love and fill up on! So, in the next week, I am going to try to go completely Syn free for 7 days. This means that I eat my Healthy Extras as usual, and then spend the rest of my eating with all Free goodness. I'm convinced that I won't feel restricted. It means that I can't drink any alcohol or eat any sweets (believe me there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy these in the future anyway!), but I will allow myself all the fruits I want, and fill up on plenty of Free foods and portion my meals with SP goodness, as well as those filling potatoes, wholemeal pasta and rice portions. I will post daily what I eat. Please just give me the week to prepare, and feel free to join in!

Just to give an impression of what a typical day might go like Syn Free, here is a sample of what I managed the other day, which made me stop and think that this was possible.

Healthy Extra: 200ml Unsweetened Oat Milk (as a latte, for my morning coffee!)
40g Oats for breakfast

With that, I had fat free plain Greek yogurt with a banana, an apple and a mix of berries (I felt like I was eating desert!)

For my SP lunch I had a huge salad composed of Peppers and beetroot to sweeten it up, cucumber, lettuce and spinach for greens, with kidney beans, smoked tofu and boiled eggs for a triple dose of Protein. Next time I do this, I will make up a Syn free dressing for extra flavor, even though it was so good as it was

Later in the afternoon I had an Apple and two satsumas.

For dinner I had a homemade fish and chickpea curry with tinned tomatoes and fresh coriander in it, with broccoli and mashed sweet potato. Needless to say, I ate until I was totally stuffed.

Later on I fancied something sweet, so I had more Fat Free Yoghurt, another banana and a sprinkling of Syn Free Stevia.

In the midst of this, I had endless cups of peppermint tea infusion as well as 2 litres of water. I could have proportioned my HE milk to be used on cups of tea or coffee throughout the day too, but was feeling the Latte in the morning!

Exercise wise, I ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes at a jog, and cycles to and from the gym (only 10 minutes away)

So, there you have it! A Syn free day and feeling full, happy and in control. I will let you know my "what i ate today" diary as I go, and my weight at the end of the week! Weigh day is next Wednesday, so I will start off then so you can see the progress of a full week.

Alright! Good Luck if you're joining me in the experiment. Feel free to message me or reply to the thread with your own Food Plans and ideas!

Thanks for reading!

Wishing you the best of health, and all the enjoyment of getting there!

Cat xx
Hey Folks!

My article on this is long, so you can be totally forgiven for not reading it all through!!

Just to recap. from next week I will be going Syn Free on Slimming World for one whole week!

If you want to join in, please drop me a line, and I will get a group up and running where we can support one anther. Otherwise, I will be posting my "what I ate today" log as I go, with links to recipes where possible. At the end of the week, I will let you know my results!

Best of health to you

Cat xx