As I stated in my previous post earlier this week, I’m firmly back on the weight loss wagon. A large part of this has been due to stopping following slimming world and going back to my fitness pal and calorie counting. Now I really don’t want this post to come across as a major moan-fest at slimming world (or other weight loss clubs), they work for some people, although I do question the long term success of them. But there are some parts of slimming world specifically that I really question, not only for vegans, but for everyone.
Logic dictates to me that the most straightforward way of losing weight is to count calories, ultimately our bodies burn calories, and we take calories in via food, so therefore if you want to lose weight you should eat less calories than you burn, calorie counting. There are other things to be considered, what you are eating, how that will impact your health, but ultimately, for weight loss, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. That is why I love my fitness pal. It’s free, it has a massive catalogue of foods, it shows not only calories but nutrition, exercise, and it is a social network.
I grew up watching my mum count calories, I remember she had a book she kept in the kitchen that had the calorie content of many foods in it, I remember her looking at it regularly, I also used to study it. She was never that big, never as overweight as I was, in fact in her youth she was the opposite, but after having me, and settling into life as a mother the weight crept on. Her first thought was counting calories. She spent most of her adult life a little overweight, but not much. That is not to say her diet was healthy, it wasn’t, she added salt to everything, barely touched a vegetable, ate chicken every single day (for pretty much every single meal). She suffered high blood pressure, and died of a heart attack in the end, whether this was to do with her diet I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a correlation.
Back to slimming world, their rules about being able to eat lots of food things freely (until full), there is something about this that just sounds too good to be true. Vegetables (excluding potatoes and some other root vegetables) are very light on calories, so those I can understand, and some fruits also. These are the “speed” options, that speed up your weight loss (this also doesn’t make sense, surely the only thing that can really speed up your weight loss is eating less?), now these are all good for you, but totally freely, nothing is good for you. It’s possible to overeat anything.
Next we move onto free foods, as the name dictates these are also free (as long as you are eating a lot of speed foods too). Free foods – pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meat (including bacon!). These (minus the meat obviously) are a big part of my problem, when I hear the word free attached to these it’s like a field day. Rice, Pasta, Potatoes! I love these! Eating these freely is a no-no for me sadly(and I guess many other people). I’m just not capable of stopping myself, I have a problem telling when I’m actually full.
Healthy extras, it’s good they encourage people to eat wholegrains, dairy I disagree with, and barely any vegan dairy substitutes count so I would pretty much always not have a Healthy Extra A. Plus Hi-Fi bars are counted as a healthy extra? Isn’t that a surprise, considering they are overpriced slimming world food only available at slimming world groups? And what’s even in them? How on earth can they be deemed a “Healthy Extra?!”
Syns, these annoy me. I know, it stands for synergy, but lets face it, no one thinks of that. We all think we are sinning when we eat these foods. The things that require syns are just madness. People can pretty much freely stuff their faces with muller lights, but an avocado is 9.5 syns (out of 15 per day), I know, I know, it has fat in it, there are such things as good fats, and unless you are eating multiple avocados I think the odd one is fine, even when calorie counting you would need to watch how many you eat.
Or a smoothie, with the same amount of fruit that you would usually eat is at least 5 syns (because fibre/fullness/other nonsense reasons). So much vegan stuff has high syns, take morrisons vegan sausages, 2 syns each. Now I’m not saying they are a perfect diet choice, but you compare them with syn free (so you can literally eat as many as you want) slimming world pork sausages and morrisons meat free have less saturated fat and more fibre, I personally just don’t think the syn value is justified. This is just one example, when following slimming world I found many of my syns had to go on my meals, rather than any kind of “treat”, which actually lead to me feeling a little deprived, especially after sitting in group and listening to everyone else talk about all this food that was free/very low syns, all of it not vegan.
Now, my ultimate aim is to reach a healthy weight, stop calorie counting, eat mainly plants and enjoy life, but at this point in time I need to track what is coming in. I still have a lot of weight loss to go, and this, “eat however much you want, until your full” just isn’t right for me. I also think that over the long term it’s not a good lesson for people, a few people I know who have lost large amounts of weight with slimming world have all put it back on (and more). Teaching people you can eat all of this food freely, I think could lead people back down the weight gain path. I’m no expert though, this is all my own ponderings. I know, weight loss is hard, I find it so hard myself, but I’m just not sure slimming world (or other meal plans/weight loss groups) is the right way about it, for me at least.
All of this is my own opinion of course, and if slimming world (or other weight loss groups) work for other people, then I’m happy for them! The most important thing is that people are getting healthier and losing weight. However I don’t think encouraging people to eat meat/eggs freely is healthy, and I believe calorie counting combined with eating mostly plants is the healthiest way to do it.