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What the Heck Is This Slimming World Diet That’s Taking Over the U.K.?

If you’ve come across British recipes on Pinterest or Instagram, you may have seen “syn-free” or “zero syn” used in the descriptions and thought to yourself, What the heck does that mean? Well, it has to do with a weight-loss method that’s gone bonkers in the U.K.: the Slimming World diet. Here’s everything you want to know.

What is the Slimming World diet? The program, which actually dates back to 1969, is a diet with a community base, kinda like Weight Watchers. It focuses on on “food optimising” (yes, we’re using “s” instead of “z” because we’re talking British stuff here), which is basically about keeping you full longer with healthier foods. The intention is to help you lose about one to two pounds a week without feeling hungry all the time.

How do you go about “food optimising”? Slimming World breaks it down into three parts: Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns, shorthand for “synergy.” So basically, the Slimming World diet claims that the combo of these three components leads to effective weight loss. 

So what foods are Free Foods, Healthy Extras and Syns? Free Foods are the most prioritized. They’re low in calories, high in nutrients and you’re allowed an unlimited amount. Think: fruit, vegetables, pasta (yep!), potatoes, rice, lean meat, fish and eggs. Healthy Extras are foods that provide nutrients but can disrupt weight loss (like milk, cheese and bread), so you’re allowed only a certain quantity. Syns are indulgences, so you’ll have to choose wisely on how to spend your daily Syn allowance: a glass of wine or a piece of cake?

You mentioned it’s kinda like Weight Watchers—what do you mean? Well, just like Weight Watchers, there’s a point system that encourages members to educate themselves about healthy eating. Plus, similar to Weight Watchers meetings, where you can talk about your accomplishments and struggles, Slimming World assigns you an online support group that meets weekly.

Wait, are you sure you can eat pasta? Cross our heart. (Here’s even a Slimming World recipe for Nacho Pasta. You read that right: Nacho. Pasta.)

RELATED: 15 One-Pot Pasta Recipes for Lazy Nights

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