Food Optimising is Slimming World’s healthy eating plan. Based on the principles of energy density and satiety, Food Optimising empowers members to make healthier food choices, satisfy their appetites and lose weight – without calorie counting or obsessive weighing and measuring.
Food Optimising is easy to follow, focusing on three main components:
- The concept of Free Foods promotes consumption of plenty of low energy dense and highly satiating foods, eg poultry, fish, lean meat, pasta, grains, vegetables and fruit, which can be eaten without restriction. Members are encouraged to use these foods to satisfy their appetite while reducing overall energy intake. With Free Foods members don’t have to monitor every mouthful – so compliance is easy to establish and sustain.
- Healthy Extras help provide a good overall balance of nutrients in addition to those obtained from Free Foods, with particular emphasis on calcium and fibre-rich foods, eg milk, cheese, cereals and wholemeal bread.
- The synergy between Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns makes Food Optimising effective and easy to live with long term. Syns are the way members can enjoy the foods that many diets ban – without a shred of guilt! Counting Syns helps members naturally limit consumption of saturated fats, alcohol and sugar, ie those foods with a high energy density and poor ability to satisfy hunger.
The science behind Slimming World's Food Optimising
Research has shown that the nature and composition
of the foods we eat, dietary macronutrients and energy
density, impact on our sense of satisfaction and
fullness (satiety) . Encouraging a higher intake of more
satiating foods will limit energy intake and result in
weight loss. Slimming World has been actively involved
in this field of research and, along with the Scottish
Office, sponsored research conducted by Dr James
Stubbs at the Rowett Research Institute. There is now
a robust evidence base which shows that foods higher
in protein and carbohydrates are far more satiating than
foods rich in fat .
Research also shows that people feel full due to the
amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they
take in. Choosing low energy dense foods can increase
the volume of food eaten, while reducing energy intake,
and thus satisfy appetite .
Since its inception over 40 years ago, Food Optimising
has always successfully embraced the scientific
principles of appetite regulation and energy density
in a practical way to regulate energy intake, allowing
members to eat unlimited amounts of highly satisfying
foods, which will naturally help limit calorie intake
without the chore of counting or feeling deprived.
A balanced approach
Slimming World has three satisfying
plans available for members so there
really is a choice to suit everyone.
All plans follow the same three
components: Free Food, Healthy
Extras and Syns. The choices offer
flexibility in terms of members' tastes
and preferences. They differ only in the
proportions of the food types a member
chooses to fill up on and those added
for extra nutrition.
Whichever choice a member makes,
all of Slimming World's eating plans
promote a reduction in fat, particularly
saturated fats, and the inclusion
of at least five portions of fruit and
vegetables per day.
Health notes guide members in following
current Government guidelines and
recommendations on healthy eating.
All of the major food groups are
encouraged in line with the
Eatwell Plate :
Around 80% of the Eatwell plate is
made up of a combination of fruit and
vegetables, starchy carbohydrates like
rice, pasta and potatoes and protein
rich foods such as lean meat and fish.
All of the eating plans encourage these
foods (sometimes in varying quantities)
and fruit and vegetables are always
Free Foods. A smaller section of the
daily plate is for milk and dairy. Food
Optimising classifies milk and cheese
as 'Healthy Extras', and encourages
those following the eating plan to enjoy
daily measured portions as they are
good for overall health. The smallest
part of the plate is for foods that are
high in fat or sugar - these are Slimming
World's controlled Syns.
Realistic and flexible, Food Optimising:
- Takes into account individual needs and preferences
- Adapts to all lifestyles, cultures and budgets,
and is suitable for all the family
- Encourages slimmers to feel free and relaxed about
food, eliminating the distress caused by feelings of guilt, hunger, deprivation and loss of control
- Enables members to take control of their own health and lifestyle for the long-term
- Doesn't ban foods or food groups
- Doesn't use expensive or specialist 'diet' products
- Stubbs, J., Whybrow, S. and Lavin, J. 2010. Dietary and lifestyle measures to
enhance Satiety and Weight control. Nutrition Bulletin, 35: 113-125.
- Weststrate, J.A., et al. 1992. Effects of nutrients on the regulation of food intake. Unilever Research: The Netherlands: Vlaardingen.
- Stubbs, J., Ferres, S., and Horgan, G. 2000. Energy density of foods: Effects on energy intake. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 40(6): p. 481-515.
- Ello-Martin, J.A., et al. 2007. Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 85(6): 1465-1477.
- Food Standards Agency. The EatWell plate. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eatwell-plate.aspx .
- Pallister, C., Avery, A., Stubbs, J. and Lavin, J., 2009. Influence of Slimming World's lifestyle programme on diet, activity behaviour and health of participants and their families. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 22: 351-358.