Tweaks, Treats and Twerks.

Tweaks. (My oft mentioned on earlier posts take on what constitutes a “tweak” and absolutely nothing to do with twerking I’m afraid).

"Tweak police are out to get you"
Beware the “tweak police”

A somewhat emotive subject on social media. I’ve seen discussions get quite rude/aggressive on the subject before.

But what is a “Tweak”?

Slimming World define a “tweak” as taking any free food and turning it into something else other than it’s intended use.  Usually it tends to refer to making “snack” foods and where there is a danger of overconsumption.

Slimming Worlds own piece on “tweaks” is in the members only lifeline online article at https://group.slimmingworld.co.uk/useful-features/tweaks.aspx

But free food is free food – right?

Yes – free food can be eaten “freely” – hence the name.  But there is also two words to carefully consider:

In Moderation

There is a difference between eating to satisfy a hunger and eating because it’s there and it’s a free (or better yet – speed) food.  Eating when hungry is good. Eating when not hungry – be it because of boredom, for comfort, whatever is bad.  That’s what is known as over eating.  The problem with using free foods in a way that may get categorised as a “tweak” is that generally – we are eating it as a snack and not necessarily because we are hungry.  After all it’s all free food isn’t it?

Common “Tweak” Examples

There are a few common examples given for what may constitute as being a “tweak”:

  • Couscous cake
  • Rice pudding made with water/cream soda/other diet drink
  • Pasta (lasagne) sheets turned into crisps
  • Vegetables (including potatoes) turned into crisps as home
  • Chick peas roasted in the oven to turn them into something akin to a nut.

So taking one of those examples – home-made crisps.  You take a regular sized baking potato, slice it thinly, and bake till crispy (there are I believe also microwave crisp makers available). Then maybe sprinkle some salt on it and eat.  Is that going to full satisfy the hunger? How long till you are hungry again? How many more times are you going to make these crisps that day? And how many potatoes is that?

Now compare that to taking a similar size baking potato and sticking it in the oven for 40-60minutes. You’re not going to have that baked potato on its own, so add a side of baked beans, maybe some mushrooms in the beans as well. Add a small side salad on the plate (if you insist – personally the idea of cold leaves on a hot meal doesn’t float my boat) as well. Maybe you’ll have a syn free/low syn sausage with that.  How full will you feel now?  How soon before you’re hungry again?

Simply put – you are going to feel fuller for longer when that potato is used as part of a meal as opposed to just in the short-term filling a gap when used as a snack.

What about the rice pudding (a second example)

In the case of rice pudding – using the cream soda/water method – there’s no limits on the amount you can make.  After all the water hasn’t got any syns and rice is a free food.  So you could make pan after pan of it all day and eat to your heart’s content. But it is over-eating.  Now I know there’s a rice pudding recipe on here. But that uses milk taken from the Healthy Extra A allowance. That fixed amount of milk in turn limits the amount of rice that can be cooked. Therefore there is less chance of over eating.

Is a “Tweak” really that bad?

That depends on you. Some people can get away with it. Some people have the self-control to stop at one portion. Other’s may not be so lucky. I’ve heard “but I eat tweaks all the time and it’s not stopped me losing weight” on more than several occasions. Lucky you but it’ll soon catch up with you in all probability.

Slimming World have to define things on an “all or nothing” basis. They can’t have differing “rules” depending on if you have been able to get away with it in the past or not. Hence they advise that anything that could be a “tweak” should be synned as if it’s the regular product.  Make crisps – then syn as according to weight as if it was pack of crisps. Made rice pudding with cream soda and yogurt – syn as if it was a tin of rice pudding (you could probably syn it as low fat rice pudding – but to be honest – the difference isn’t that great in terms of syn value – it may be low fat but it’s probably loaded with sugar instead).

My take on the “tweak” debate

We’re all adults here.  The occasional tweak is not necessarily going to do your weight loss any harm. By occasional I mean maybe once in a blue moon. However it’s dependant on one thing. Are you happy with your weight loss (on a week by week basis)? The moment that the answer to that is “no” then things have to change. That first change should probably be either eliminating the “tweaks” or at the very least – synning them.

Do I “tweak” – yes, once in a while.

The “Tweak Police” label

So I said that the matter of what is and isn’t a “tweak” can be an emotive subject within Social Media forums. Usually it comes down to people not understanding what “tweak” means and then someone being rather rude/aggressive over labelling whatever has been posted as a “tweak”.  It has also brought up the label of “tweak police” which seems to get dragged out every time one of these discussions gets “out of hand”.

Those people who do point out that something is a “tweak” are trying to help not hinder.  The plan – especially in the first few weeks – can be confusing. And someone looking for a way to have their crisp “fix” and searching on google are going to see posts about these amazing syn free crisps – that aren’t actually (by the rules) syn free. People have made (and eaten) big batches of the cream soda/water rice pudding every day and wondered why they’ve gained – after all it’s all free food right?

My advice for these situations on Social Media

If you are the one that posted something that someone else has said is a “tweak” – please don’t shout the messenger. If you are the messenger – consider how you approach delivering the message.  I’ve shortcut the problem many a time with actually explaining why that particular item may be a “tweak” and not a simple “You have to syn that, it’s a tweak” response that’s oh so tempting in this age of smart phone access. I also include the link to the web page (as above) as well so that they can read the official advice on the subject and make their own minds up.


Don’t forget – any bargains, etc I find whilst out and about will now only be placed on the thethriftydieter Facebook page. Make sure you like/follow for bargains plus updates when things get put on this site.

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