Thought this post might be helpful to you regarding tweaks, its certainly opened my eyes a bit as I have used Mullerlight yoghurt with tofu to make a smoothie and have made the scones mentioned at the bottom of the post numerous times.

What is a tweak?
‘Tweaks’ are foods where a Free Food is used as a replacement for a high-Syn ingredient, eg using (Free) couscous as a (high-Syn) flour replacement in a cake. Although the couscous cake is lower in calories than a piece of regular cake, these tweaks can easily damage members’ weight losses.

If tweaks are made from Free Food, why are they damaging to weight loss?
Foods are given their ‘Free’ status for a complex combination of reasons, unique to Slimming World:

Their energy density – that’s the number of calories per gram.
Their satiety – how filling and satisfying they are. The propensity for overeating – how likely we are to eat them past the point of satisfaction
That important third point is where tweaks come into the picture. Tweaks disrupt the delicate balance of science and psychology behind Free Foods. By altering the way a Free Food is intended to be ‘used’ or cooked, we may also alter the way we eat it, the way it fills us up (or doesn’t!) – and as a result, the amount we consume.

For example, if you ate couscous as part of a hearty meal – with a lamb tagine and a third of a plate of roasted vegetables – you’d eat far less of that one food and you’d feel full up until your next meal, thanks to the other protein-rich and Superfree Foods on the plate. Couscous cake is eaten in a completely different way: on its own, in between meals – and because it’s unwittingly deemed ‘Free’, probably in great big slices!

Why tweaking can be dangerous
This distortion of the philosophy behind Food Optimising and Free Food is dangerous to both short and long-term success. In the short term, unlimited snacking between meals – especially when we genuinely think something is Free when it’s not – adds many, many extra calories which can damage weight losses, leading members to lose faith in the plan and give up altogether. In the long term, tweaks can mean that members never wholly get into that ‘new groove’ that will help them manage their weight for life.

Our advice, as always, is to use Free Foods and Healthy Extras to create satisfying, filling meals – reaching for speedy Superfree fruit and veg first in between meals. As a safety net, Free Food lifesavers are the best option to fill us up on those extra-hungry days.

What if I’m tweaking but still losing?
This depends – first on how much you have to lose altogether and your rate of weight loss. When we Food Optimise 100%, we should expect to see weight losses of 2+lbs a week on average. If we have consistently low losses, even we are happy with half a pound, I owe it to you to let you have the facts – because you might not be getting the great results we promised you on night one.

Equally, even if you’re losing well, there may come a time when those losses slow down – and habitual tweaking could well be the reason behind it. Either way, tweaks aren’t something we’d encourage for anyone – even target members. They’re just not great long term ‘slim grooves’.

What’s the difference between a ‘tweak’ and a ‘lifesaver’?
Free Food lifesavers like pasta quiche, pickled eggs, chicken legs or frozen Müllerlight yogurts are filling, satisfying foods that you reach for because you’re hungry and want to satisfy your appetite. They’re not foods you’d ‘graze’ on in large quantities, or eat for the sake of it. For snacks, we’d always ask you to reach for Superfree first, but on those extra-hungry days – lifesavers are… a lifesaver!

Advice to help uncover tweaks and sub-conscious sabotage
Ask yourself
whether everything you’re counting as Free is Free
whether you’re under-estimating Syn values (it’s better to over-estimate) if you are having to guess
whether you ‘re counting everything (absolutely everything!) that should be counted
whether you’re measuring everything (everything!) that should be measured
do we understand the true principles of flexible Syns and are we really sticking to them when they’re needed?
whether we/you are sabotaging your success in any other way

Common Tweaks
Couscous as a sweet dessert/porridge replacement
Couscous made up in this way with water, yogurt and sweetener would be considered a tweak. Couscous is included in our Free Food list so it can be enjoyed as part of a meal, to add even more filling power, Used in that way you’re unlikely to eat couscous in large quantities. However if members eat couscous as a sweet dessert they’re not eating the ingredient as it was intended to be used and they should count the Syns to protect their weight loss.

Mushy peas as gravy
A tweak – as by blending mushy peas, members are losing the bulky satisfaction they have as a Free Food and making them easy to overeat.

Rice puddings made up with diet drinks
Using diet soda (or any other Free liquid) to make up pudding rice is a tweak as it makes bulky Free rice – intended to be eaten as part of a satisfying, Free Food-packed meal – very easy to overeat between and after meals.

Lasagne sheets to make spring rolls
There have been some queries relating to using par-boiled (softened) lasagne sheets filled with Free Foods (bean sprouts/shredded carrots/Chinese five spice) then baked to make spring rolls. In principle this is no different to cannelloni. If eaten as part of a filling meal this is fine. If members are making trays of lasagne/spring rolls and eating them in addition to meals, it would be something to look at if their weight losses start to slow.

Adding rice when blending soup
Blended rice has a Syn value as it loses its filling power.

Blending Mullerlight yogurt with milk or water to make a drink
This is a tweak. Yogurts aren’t intended to be used this way and ‘diluting’ them reduces both the time it takes to eat them (ie they become east to overeat) and their satisfying power. If members do want to make shakes/drinks with yogurts, please ask them to count the equivalent Syn value of a branded yogurt drink to protect their weight loss.

Why is soup Free but vegetable juice isn’t?
When fruit is enjoyed in its original form it is a bulky, satiating food that’s low in energy density. However, when puréed, juiced or made into smoothies, it is a very effective way of adding a lot of extra calories in a non-bulky way. For example, consider the time it takes to eat six apples – and how full you’d feel afterwards (if you managed to eat them all!). Then the time it takes to drink the equivalent apple juice… it’s gone in a gulp! Furthermore, juice doesn’t sit in your stomach for very long, so does not fill you up. Also, much of the fiber that was in the apples tends not to end up in the juice.

Eating in this way simply allows us to revert to a similar style of eating to the one that helped us gain weight in the first place – a relatively large amount of calories in a non-filling form. The less you have to chew food, the easier it is to eat more of it, because you’re missing out one of the first stages of feeling full and satisfied – chewing.

The exception to the rule is vegetables when used to make soup – which maintains its bulky, filling qualities and is used as a meal.

Other tweaks include:
Smash and cottage cheese scones
Chickpea nuts
Lasagne crisps
Twiglets made from pasta


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