Most people know that if they eat less and move more, they can lose weight. But actually putting this knowledge into practice is easier said than done.
Whether we’re watching TV or scrolling through social media, we’re constantly being bombarded with heavily edited bikini photos and weight loss adverts promoting everything from detox drinks to supplements. We’re told that losing weight is easy with tHis SiMplE tRicK. Slimming World, for example, is often marketed as an easy and fun way to lose weight. Many call it a ‘lifestyle’ rather than a diet. Whether that’s true or not, is Slimming World worth it? Is it worth the time and money? I’m going to share my experience along with alternatives I’ve tried.
Why I joined Slimming World
I joined Slimming World in 2014. I’d been feeling unhappy with my body for a couple of years and it was really getting me down.
Within two weeks of joining, I started to notice a difference in my body and within two months I’d lost a stone without really feeling hungry. If my stomach ever rumbled, I let myself eat something. I also didn’t have to deprive myself of any foods in particular, which was great because I’m a burger and chocolate fiend.
Why I quit Slimming World
I first quit Slimming World in 2015 after going on holiday and gaining back 10lbs of the weight that I’d lost.
This is of course totally normal, but for some reason when I returned to the Slimming World group I just couldn’t get back in the swing of things.
I started to find the groups kinda patronising and I hated having to pay for missed weeks.
It’s like my perspective on it completely changed.
I rejoined Slimming World a couple of times over the next two years but only went for a few weeks before ditching it again.
When I first joined, I loved the groups and the community aspect of it but I now started to hate it. It wound me up when people called their periods ‘star week’ or talked about synning stupid stuff like fruit that had been cut up or blended rather than eaten whole.
How much does Slimming World cost?
It usually costs £9.95 to become a Slimming World member. After that, each week you’ll have to pay £4.95 every time you attend a meeting.
However, there are a number of ways to reduce the cost. You can often reduce the cost of the initial joining fee by tracking down a voucher or online discount code.
Sometimes Slimming World offers a half-price membership sign up offer. You’ll still pay £4.95 a week but you’ll only have to pay £5 for the initial sign up.
Many groups offer members the chance to get 12 weeks for the price of 10. This is often referred to as a countdown offer.
It’s worth noting that if you ever miss a meeting, you will have to pay for that week upon your return.
Slimming World Discount Code and Deals
I’ve included some of the most common Slimming World deals below. Most are active all the time but others, like the 12 week countdown, are only available now and then. It’s worth checking with your nearest Slimming World consultant before signing up.
Free membership if you buy a 12 week countdown
New members can often save money by buying a 12 Week Countdown. You’ll get up to two weeks free and you’ll also get free membership.
Half price membership
Pay weekly and get half-price membership. That’s just £5 to join and £4.95 a week. Your first group meeting will cost just £9.95
11-15-year-olds can join Slimming World for free when they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a paying member. The Slimming World plan for young members is called Free2Go. Ask your Consultant for more details.
16 and 17-year-olds can attend Slimming World for just £3.95 a week.
If you’re aged 60 or above, you can pay a special reduced Slimming World price of just £4.65 a week.
Save money by joining with friends or family
If you join a Slimming World group with four of your friends or family members, you’ll all get your first week free.
Unfortunately, this offer cannot be used in conjunction with the Countdown offer.
How easy is it to stick to?
The Slimming World diet is pretty flexible, so I found it really easy to stick to for the first few months.
You don’t have to count calories or weigh all your food. Instead, Slimming World is all about splitting certain types of food into categories, filling up on foods such as rice and potatoes, and keeping track of how many chocolate bars or packets of crisps you eat.
My adherence was very much tied to my emotions and how much faith I had in myself to actually achieve my goals. When I was confident I could do it and in a good place emotionally, sticking to the plan was easy. When I was stressed at work, feeling down or believed it wouldn’t be long before I fell off the wagon, I struggled.
How much can you eat per day?
No food is banned, but many foods have what Slimming World calls a ‘syn’ value.
It’s usually recommended that you eat no more than 15 syns a day, but you can roll some syns over to other days of the week if you’re planning on having a takeaway or big night out.
Personally, I don’t like the fact they call them ‘syns’ because food has no moral value and there’s nothing sinful about eating biscuits. Slimming World say that ‘syn’ stands for ‘synergy’ but I call bullshit. They knew exactly what they were doing when they made ‘syns’ the whole basis of the Slimming World diet.
I’m not the only one who feels this way, nutritionist and author Rhiannon Lambert said: “Naming certain foods as ‘Syns’ just contributes to an unhealthy anxiety that prevails around food all too often.”
“Those lucky enough to have never strayed into eating disorders or struggled with their weight may not see it this way but for the ones who are supposed to benefit most from this Slimming World system, those who eat too much or not enough, labelling foods is a negative and guilt-ridden idea.
“We should encourage positive messages surrounding what we can and should eat, not what we can’t and shouldn’t eat.”
Is Slimming World a diet?
When I was an enthusiastic Slimming World member, I tricked myself into thinking it wasn’t really a diet. I now realise that it absolutely is. You have to count ‘syns’ (little difference between counting calories, in my opinion), avoid eating too much of certain foods, weigh yourself every week, and reflect on your progress with the sole purpose of losing weight. Of course it’s a diet! It might not be as restrictive as keto, Atkins or the 5:2, but it’s still a diet.
What can I eat?
You can eat pretty much anything, though you are restricted on how much thanks to certain foods’ ‘syn’ value.
Here’s what a typical day looked like for me:
Breakfast: A three-egg omelette with chicken, chorizo, mushroom, peppers, and onion
Lunch: Huge jacket potato and cheese & a ham, lettuce, cucumber & tomato salad with a bit of salad dressing
Dinner: A fairly large portion of chilli and rice
Snacks: Mullerlight yogurt, banana, apple, pear
Although that’s what an average day looked like, I tried mix things up as much as possible. I often had Thai green curries, sausage casseroles, fry ups and the occasional takeaway.
To be fair to Slimming World, I do think I ate pretty healthily while I was a member. I definitely lived a healthier lifestyle while taking part in the programme than I did before. I learned that I didn’t need to eat as much as I was eating previously and managed to kick my chocolate addiction. Slimming World helped me adopt better habits, but it’s just a shame they all unravelled once I stopped attending the groups.
Why is Slimming World bad?
In my opinion, Slimming World is far less restrictive than other diets out there and I do think it’s a good option for people who don’t want to cut out entire food groups or give up their favourite meals.
I think for some people, Slimming World could teach them healthier habits. However, I also think there’s a risk it could make things worse for those with existing eating disorders. It could also cause people to develop an eating disorder or unhealthy obsession with food.
Slimming World’s biggest flaw is that in order to succeed, you need to become pretty obsessed with it. You can become somewhat reliant on the groups and once you stop attending, the pounds can pile back on. So although it can teach people better habits, it’s not particularly sustainable once you’re released back into the real world and trying to make it alone. Slimming World knows this problem exists but it’s not within their best interests to fix it because when people attend their groups, they make money. Slimming World consultants often talk about the importance of attending groups even once you’ve achieved your weight loss target. They make £5 a week from everyone who reaches their goal but continues to attend the meeting! It’s a great business model.
It’s not so great for those of us who want to lose weight without paying £5 a week to a slimming club for the rest of our lives.
Is Slimming World worth the money?
This is a tricky one to answer.
Diet culture is inescapable and there are thousands (maybe even millions) of companies around the world willing to take our money in exchange for weight loss tricks and secrets. One study suggests women spend £25,000 on diet and weight loss programmes in their lifetimes, though I haven’t done much research into how credible the study is.
As far as weight loss programmes go, Slimming World isn’t that expensive at £5 a week.
If you want to lose weight for your wedding or a holiday that’s a few months away, Slimming World could work out good value for money. But I’m not sure how successful it is long term and if you’re looking to lose weight and keep it off long-term, you might be better off going down a different route – one that doesn’t require you to attend a £5 meeting every week for the rest of your life.
Slimming World alternatives
Over the last couple of years I’ve been following @soheefit, @bdccarpenter and @jeffnippard on Instagram. Between them, they’ve taught me so much about diet culture, weight loss scams, weight training and fitness. They’re by no means anti-diet and they say that ultimately, the only way to lose weight is by achieving a calorie deficit. This means you have to eat fewer calories than you burn off. With their help I’m now on a much slower (yet more enjoyable and sustainable) weight loss journey which involves:
- Eating between 1,500-1,800 calories a day – Though I occasionally have 2,000+ days with no shame or repercussions
- Walking 10,000 steps a day
- Weight lifting in the gym 3-4 times a week
Progression is slow but I’m enjoying myself and this does feel like something I can stick to. Aside from my gym membership, I also don’t have to pay anyone any money.