Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Slimming World voodoo

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

At work I'm enveloped by talk of red and green days, 'Syn values', food optimising and 'free' foods. This is the language of Slimming World, one of the major British weight-loss groups. Ultimately the plan hinges upon the assignment of 'Syn values' to 'non-free' foods ('free' in this context means those you can eat by the bucket load to satiate your hunger whilst consuming relatively few calories). Members are allocated a Syn budget which can be flexibly spent in whatever way they see fit providing they don't break the bank on any given day.

In order to do the maths (and tot up the number of Hail Marys you'll have to reprise should you overindulge) you must buy the Slimming World Food Bible (or 'Directory' as they would rather you called it) which lists the Syn values of 39,000 items of food and drink. Translating the nutritional value of so many foodstuffs by way of an undisclosed, cryptic formula seems like a heck of a lot of work, and, well, fruitless really when you consider that consumables are already labeled with the ubiquitous ingredients breakdown table... that is until you remember that someone is raking in a wad of cash by shrouding the whole shebang in mystery to engender a dependent member-base of regular contributors.

It wouldn't be quite so devious if the assigned Syn values appeared to follow some sort of logic. On the contrary, the rules seem arbitrary in many cases. For example, one lady I know stopped drinking her favourite flavour of hot chocolate because The Bible states that it has a higher Syn value than the flavour she has now resigned herself to buying as a substitute. The brand, calorie and fat content are identical. Another wacky curiosity concerns the mechanism by which the Magic Formula transmogrifies the nutritional value of foodstuffs simply by altering its constitution. According to the Slimming World gurus the same orange can be better or worse for your diet depending on how it is sliced, diced or blended. Nothing added, nothing removed, no evaporation or seepage. It's like the water into wine trick all over again.

To keep you guessing (and purchasing each new revision of The Bible), these Syn values are jiggled about and republished every two months. Unlisted Syn values for new or obscure products can't be requested by email "due to the huge demand from members", but, but you can call the Syns Hotline - charged at 60p per minute - to resolve your queries. Alternatively you can send product packaging by free post for analysis, and then - once you've unwittingly done Slimming World's detective work on their behalf - call their premium rate hotline to be rewarded with the fruits of your labour.

While "there isn't a particular formula for calculating Syns (if only it was that simple!)", you can use the members-only 'Online Syns Calculator' to calculate the incalculable Syn value of any unidentified products. "The Calculator takes into account all of the nutrition information, as well as considering if the product contains any Free Food".

Ahuh.

7 comments:

Anonymous

Thank you for this laugh. I just started slimming world last nite and cant help wondering how it works. I cant find any syns value for the food in my cupboard so i have to find the time now to shop for foods i'v never heard tell of and dont know what to do with. I'm all red and greened out!!!!!

Anonymous

Well I read somewhere that if you divide the calories of the item by 20 you get the syn value. I don't know test it and try it!!

Anonymous

As SW says in its literature, it's not just about calories, it's to do with energy density. A chocolate bar and pasta could have the same amount of calories, but which is going to fill you up for longer ?
And anyone who comments on here (i.e. your first commenter) would presumably have access to the SW site so they could check their cupboard-full of food on the SW website. For free.

Anonymous

I think SW is a great eating plan except they would lose a lot of money from ex- group members who know how to follow the plan and just need to use the premium rate syn line phone enquiries. If only they just produced a portable syn calculator like Weight Watchers points calculator (their calculation is not such a mystery)!JB

Anonymous

I have been doing SW for over a year and i still get confused with all the syns, free foods, healthy options and red and green days. they only way you are gaunteed, it seems, to have a low syn intake eachday is to cook EVERYTHING from scratch. Something that is hard to do when you have 2 kids who are under 3 running around your feet constantly.

Anonymous

what a negative post!

Anonymous

Ivw lost 21.5 lb in 7 weeks, and 10% body weight so if ya wana lose weight just stop moanin and get on wi it.,...its not rocket science...and produces great results....

 
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