RECIPE: Cheesy Chilli Wedges

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Cheesy Chilli Wedges suitable for Slimming World, and syn free if using the cheese as your healthy extra allowance.

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

For the chilli:

500g 5% fat beef mince
2 Onions
2 Peppers
Button Mushrooms
1 Tin of kidney beans
1 Tin of button beans
3 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp finely chopped garlic (I use ‘Lazy Garlic’ in vinegar)
200ml Beef stock
1 oxo cube
Splash of lea & perrins
1 carton chopped tomatoes with herbs
Salt & Pepper

For the wedges:

Potatoes (however much to feed your family!)
Fry Lite – Olive Oil one is best for roasting
Salt & Pepper

And cheese for on top!


Brown the mince with a crumbled oxo cube, garlic and chopped onion.
Whilst that is browning, prep your wedges and parboil for 12 minutes.

Once the mince is browned add everything else give it a good stir and then turn down to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Drain the parboiled potatoes and then transfer to a baking tray (too close together and they won’t crisp up nicely so spread them out) spray with fry lite and top with cracked salt and pepper, the pop into a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees.

Once the wedges are cooked top with the chilli and cheese and place back in the oven until the cheese has melted.

Serve straight away with a side salad.

Look at that fat girl eating

Maybe I am alone in this but have you ever eaten something in public and convinced yourself that people are judging you?Taunting yourself that people are watching the ‘fat girl’ shovel in food.

For years it stopped me eating in public, more so if it was a crowded place. I couldn’t just grab something quickly from the shop and eat it walking down the road, I didn’t like sitting in restaurants in full view or near a window, and if the worst happened and I was placed near a window I had to have my back to it. I was ashamed and convinced that everyone was either watching me or laughing at me.

My first holiday away with the man was last year, we spontaneously booked a last minute trip away to Amsterdam, literally booking it then leaving a few days later. The trip was fantastic from start to finish and filled with some amazing memories, but I can’t tell you much about the Dutch food because to be honest I barely ate.

Holidays are times for creating memories, having fun, letting your hair down and relaxing, but here I was too concerned that people would be laughing at me eating. Maybe that sounds ridiculous to some people but it was a genuine fear and still to a certain extent is. I have spent years feeling so ashamed of myself, catching sight of my reflection and thinking, “how did I let myself get this big”, convinced that everyone else must look at me and think the same thing.

Over the course of the 3 day break, the man ate constantly, I however did not. The first night we grabbed a slice of pizza near the Red Light District (casual) we sat down and the entire front of the restaurant was made of glass, the streets were so busy and I felt awful. Everyone that walked past looked in and I felt all their eyes burn into me as I tried to eat my pizza.

Of course I realise now that the chances of all of them staring into the restaurant for the sole purpose of watching me eat like an animal in a zoo is unlikely and the reality is they were probably looking at the amazing pizza in the window. But that doesn’t change the way I felt that night. It shaped how I ate on the holiday and apart from breakfast in a cafe I didn’t eat unless I was in the hotel.

People often assume that overweight people stuff their faces non stop, but this wasn’t the case for me. I have always had a love hate relationship with food. I used it as a treat and as punishment, switching from binge eating to starving myself. This is no way to live. I would spend days not eating partly because I was out and didn’t want people to see me eat, only to spend those evenings surrounded by food making up for lost time and missed meals.

Something had to change. I didn’t and don’t want to be ruled by food.
I can’t avoid it, you need food to survive so something had to happen!!

Then the prospect of another holiday came up, I was a mix of emotions pure excitement, then fear all at once. I didn’t want another holiday ruled by my insecurities, ruled by food, embarrassed and feeling that I was the entertainment for everyone nearby.  So I made a change.

For the people that have followed me from the beginning you’ll know all about my on again, off again ride on the diet wagon but this time I’m in it for the long haul, this time I am determined it will be different.  I don’t want it to be like every other time I’ve told people “I’m going to do it this time, I really want it for me,” only to end up heavier then before. I got myself to this size and only I can lose the weight.

I would spend hours scrolling through Instagram looking at all the amazing transformation pictures and I always started well and with good intentions but they soon spiralled and I ended putting the weight back on again! But now I take as many pictures as I can because I know one day I will have amazing transformation pictures and I cannot wait to share them with everyone!

My relationship with food is a work in progress and since joining Slimming World I cannot say that my fear of public eating is gone, but what I can say is that it’s improved!! Not only that but with every pound I lose I feel so much healthier, literally. Seeing the numbers creep down on the scales to numbers I haven’t seen for years is an amazing feeling and hearing people say they can see I’ve lost weight will never get old (no matter how embarrassed I get!)

I can’t pin point why it seems to have clicked this time I’m just happy that it has! It isn’t without difficulty and I work hard every day to stay on track and on plan but this time it doesn’t feel like a chore it feels like the start of something great (pure cheese but true.)




RECIPE: Slimming World Sweet and Sour Fanta Chicken

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

Chicken Breast –  I use one per person, cut into strips or chunks
Onion – slice it fairly thick
3 peppers – cut into chunky strips
Can of zero fanta/ diet orange
A vegetable oxo cube (chicken will work too)
3 tbsp passata
1 tsp vinegar
A shake of dried chilli flakes (add more if you like spice!)
Fresh Pineapple


Cook the chicken and onions until they’ve browned, then add everything else except the pineapple.

Stir and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce thickens up and gets a ‘sticky’ texture.

At the last minute take off the heat and stir in the pineapple and serve immediately. I DO NOT syn my pineapple as I literally throw it in and serve, if you COOK the pineapple you NEED to syn it.

RECIPE: Slimming World Campfire Stew

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

1 small gammon joint with all visible fat removed
2 chopped onions
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 tins of baked beans
mushrooms for extra speed!!
2 chopped peppers
6tbsp tomato puree/ a tin of chopped tomatoes will also work
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tsp chilli powder
A shake of chilli flakes (optional)

Method: Put it all in the slow cooker and forget about it while you go and get some body magic in!!! I cook it on low for 6-8 hours and high 4-6 hours.

Once the gammon is cooked, shred it and stir it back in. Serve with a mash of your choice and extra veg. I served with a sweet potato and butternut squash mash. The stew itself is really filling and syn free!

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Why now? What’s my secret?

As you all know by now I am a converted Slimming World lover. I always knew the plan worked, having previously tried it in my teens, however as I got older the excuses just got bigger.

Two main reasons kept me from joining sooner, the first was time. I convinced myself that I didn’t have the time to go to group. A full-time student with a part time job, plus just spending time with my family and the man left not a lot of free time! But in reality this was just an excuse.

There are so many Slimming World groups out there, morning, evening, mid week, weekend, you name it there is a group nearby. I was also naive to assume there wasn’t an online option, of course there is! So if you really don’t have free time this may be the route for you.

A work in progress, size 26 dress on the left and size 20/18 on the right. © Sarah Woodside

A work in progress, size 26 dress on the left and size 20/18 on the right. © Sarah Woodside

I chose the Monday morning group near my home, firstly because it was nearby, I knew I’d be more likely to attend if it was close to my house! Secondly because one of my downfalls with eating is the weekend, having group on Monday morning is an incentive to stay on plan, I don’t want to let my hard work all week go to waste by being ‘off plan’ at the weekend. If I weighed in on a Saturday morning I know I would be more likely to have a ‘treat’!!

The second was money, I couldn’t justify the weekly fee as a poor student, even working a part time job alongside my studies I didn’t have the disposable income to pay weekly.  I still don’t have the spare money but it’s worth the weekly fee. If we can afford Sky TV then I can afford the money spent on bettering my quality of life and health!!

So after convincing myself for so long that I didn’t have time or money to attend group, I gave myself some home truths, stopped making excuses and mustered up the courage to join a group and I have not looked back since.

I joined on the 2nd May this year, and now 14 weeks later I am 3 stone 6.5 pounds lighter. There are no tricks or secrets to my weight loss, I have simply worked hard and stayed on plan.

Naturally with a start weight of nearly 22 stone I expected the weight losses to be fairly substantial at the beginning of my journey, but they have stayed that way because I am determined and motivated and I work bloody hard. Apart from a few treats for my birthday I have spent every single day since walking into my first meeting on plan. I have spent so long being unhappy in my own skin [blog post about finding my motivation coming soon] and I don’t want that any more so I am determined to work hard and see results. Every pound that comes off is a pound I never want to see again!

The benefit of Slimming World is it really is a plan that can work for anyone, you just have to find your rhythm and find what works best for you.

© Sarah Woodside

Mini Smarties 3.5 syns, Beef Puft 3.5 syns, 50g of my favourite sweets 8 syns © Sarah Woodside

Prior to joining my food choices were always 99% good during the day, the evening has always been my downfall, I could eat a perfectly healthy and balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner and then ruin the day by consuming in excess of 1500 calories on sweets, chocolate and crisps in the space of a few hours before bed.

With Slimming World I can still be that little piggy in the evening, I simply save my syns.


I know my sweet tooth is my downfall, some people avoid them completely, one bite of a curly wurly and they are reaching for the family size dairy milk bar, if I avoid all the naughtiness I love I simply crave it more, making me more likely to binge.

By having a little of what I fancy within my syns each day I don’t feel like i’m missing out, I can still eat the things I want but this time I am in control. I spend my syns wisely and make every syn count and this helps me stay on plan. I don’t feel the need to binge because I get to enjoy the naughty food I love (hello chocolate) and still lose weight! Since starting I have always used 15 syns and most days I use all of them, it’s worked for me so far, further on down the line I may reduce them, but for now they are there to be spent and this girl is spending them!!

Caramel Freddo 4.5 syns, Buttons 4.5 syns, Milkybar 6 syns. © Sarah Woodside

Caramel Freddo 4.5 syns, Buttons 4.5 syns, Milkybar 6 syns. © Sarah Woodside

So what do I eat? I post ALL my main meals on my Instagram page – diaryofafatenglishgirl – so if you’re on Instagram head over for visual updates and meal ideas.

Brunch, I don’t tend to eat breakfast, if I have breakfast I am starving by lunchtime, if I have a big brunch then it keeps my nice and full until dinner. My go to is poached eggs, I love them!!! With ham and spinach or baked beans and mushrooms. I always follow them with a piece of fruit.

Snacks, I snack wisely I use my hifi’s if i’m feeling stressed or emotional and want to eat my feelings other than that I snack on fruit and veg.

Dinner, I cannot stress enough, variety is the spice of life. This is a lifestyle plan, you aren’t going to eat the same seven meals in rotation for the rest of your life, get experimenting and spice it up. We have some firm favourites in this house I admit; spaghetti bolognese, cottage pie, curry, but we also try new things weekly!

I don’t cook two meals either, the man has what I have I just tweak the meal for him if I need to. For example, if I’m doing a speed day then he’ll still have potatoes and if we have mash then we mash in separate bowls so he can add as much rubbish as he feels is necessary (which is usually far too much).

Attached below are some pictures of my daily entries from my food diary to give you an idea of what I eat on an average day, like I said earlier I post all my main meals on my Instagram page. Now I have finished university I am going to build up my recipe section on my blog with my favourite Slimming World friendly meals. If you are struggling talk to others, stalk some Instagram pages and read the books. Diets aren’t fun but a lifestyle change like Slimming World doesn’t have to feel as restrictive as a diet, have fun with it and enjoy the journey. Think of why you are doing it and remind yourself of how well you’ve done so far, I have said this time and time again but weight loss is hard work so be proud of your journey.

What would you like to see next on my blog? As always let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Slimming World Week 1: How did I find it and will it work for you?

On my last post be prepared it’s a long one, I briefly explained why I finally took the plunge and rejoined Slimming World after years of avoiding it. I knew I needed the support, but the additional support wasn’t the only reason, in fact there were many factors which led to me walking into my first meeting.

So what were they, how are they working for me and will they work for you?

  1. The weekly weigh in.
  2. FOOD!!
  3. The stickers and certificates.

The weekly weigh in. I needed the regime of a weekly weigh in, of course I could do this at home, however for me weighing yourself and having someone weigh you are two very different things.

I can become a little very obsessed with the sad step, morning weigh ins, mid day weigh ins, after the toilet weigh ins (<— sometimes a toilet stop could be a 2lb difference hahaha, always go before weigh in!!) Basically If I was in the bathroom I was on the scales!! I don’t want to live my life determined by the scales, the number does not reflect me as a person or define my self worth, but by weighing every day and at every possible moment it was becoming a big factor of my journey. It would encourage unhealthy habits, if I didn’t see the number going down as fast as I would like for example I would restrict my food intake, fast and guzzle down litres upon litres of water until I was satisfied I was making good progress. Equally if I saw the numbers go down quickly I would find it easier to let myself have a ‘treat’ after all I’d already lost a good amount!!! I also discovered that by moving my scales around my bathroom floor my weight could vary by 8lbs!!

For some people having scales at home and weighing daily keeps them on track and motivated. I am not one of those people.

So why is the weekly weigh in working for me? It has allowed me to stop putting so much focus on the scales, it has also given me a consistent account of my weight, with my home scales the numbers can vary which doesn’t always give me a true reading.  At group the same scales are used, I weigh at the same time and the same place every week thus satisfying me with a true reading. Once a week is enough for me, it lets me go through my journey week by week and seeing the end results and my achievement. This journey is about applauding yourself every step of the way, by weighing once a week I can confidently keep track of my journey and success.

When I weighed at home it could often be an anti-climax, especially if the scales didn’t say what I was hoping for. I could commiserate with a big bowl of my favourite sugary cereal if needed (<– it was never needed!!!) Whereas the weekly weigh ins offer the support I need, they give you a pat on the back when you’ve done well and pick you up when you are disappointed with your results. On top of that the fear of being the only one in group who has put weight on definitely keeps me on track, keeps me motivated and keeps me determined to try my best!!

FOOD!! I didn’t get to this size by hating food, I love food, I’ve tried endless diets that restrict or eliminate certain foods, and yes I lost weight, but I couldn’t sustain the plan, I was too damn hungry, angry and unhappy!! I need food. We can all stop drinking alcohol, or smoking or taking drugs, but we can’t stop eating food, we need it to survive and food is my drug of choice.

Slimming World lets me eat, and not just eat rabbit food as my dad used to call it, it lets me eat real food and big portions! In my first week I ate; stews, chips, pasta, rice, potatoes and chocolate! The plan is simple and easy to follow, it doesn’t restrict what you can and can’t have it puts you in control. This is your journey so you find the path that works for you.

For me I need sweet things, I have a massive sweet teeth, yes I love other ‘naughty’ things like pizza, takeaways and pies!! But I love chocolate and anything sweet!! With Slimming World I can still have them!! The plan is so simple to follow!! Broken down into sections, Free Food (including Speed), Health Extras A and B and then 5-15 syns per day to spend on slightly unhealthier things!!

The syns are a massive part of why I’m 7 weeks in without slipping once! Some people choose to spend their syns on things like, oil, spread on their toast, jam etc. I like to cook as syn free as possible so then in the evenings – my worst time for hunger and eating – I can satisfy my sweet tooth and little piggy self with some treats. My favourites are, mini twister lollies 2syns, curly wurlys 6 syns and snow rolls 2 syns.

And just to prove that with this plan you can eat real food and big portions and still lose weight I have included a photo gallery at the bottom of this post of just SOME of the food I ate in week one, all of which was on plan and helped me lose 8.5lb come weigh in.

The stickers and certificates. I’m not ashamed to admit it I am one of those people that needs an occasional pat on the back and will always appreciate a well done! It helps keep me on the right path, I have a long journey ahead of me*, my weight loss journey will not be a quick one, at the beginning I was facing losing the weight of another person!! That will not happen overnight! I need to celebrate my achievements and milestones along the way, losing weight is hard work and we deserve to feel smug when we’ve done well. Believe me it’s not easy watching the man eat EVERYTHING I want!! Syns keep me satisfied but it’s still torture watching him eat pizza, packets of haribo and bars of chocolate! So feeling proud of my progress when I get a new certificate or sticker definitely reminds me of how well I’m doing and that not giving in to temptation was and is certainly worth it to feel this good!!!

*Look out for a future post about setting a target!!!

So how was my first week and what are my tips to anyone looking to join?

I loved loved loved my first week as you’ll see from the pictures below I didn’t miss out on food! I also didn’t feel like I was on a diet, switching out things like oil for frylite was easy in this household and I still cooked home made, hearty meals I just adapted them to the plan. The food was a hit with the man also which is always a bonus!! By the latter part of the week I was counting down the days until the next weigh in, feeling determined and confident with how I’d done.

For me variety is the spice of life, I made sure I switched up my breakfasts, lunches and tried not to eat the same dinner in the week, getting bored on plans is one of the main reasons I slip off the wagon. So get in the kitchen, get creating and have some variety!

Stalk stalk stalk. I love Instagram and sooooo many lovely men and women are sharing their journies and food diaries. This inspiration helped give me ideas and motivate me from week one. I like a lot of people start most days with a quick flick through my newsfeed whilst still wiping sleep from me eyes, seeing my Instagram feed full of healthy breakfast choices and ideas I would never have thought of meant I instantly started my day positively in regards to the plan.

I also share all my food on my Instagram account, it helps keep me on track and accountable of what i’ve eaten!! Drop your username in the comments for me to have a nose please!

To anyone looking to join GO FOR IT, what’s the worst that could happen! Weight loss is a personal journey and to anyone on a different plan or ‘diet’ good luck, well done and tell me all about it in the comments!! I applaud anyone who is on this hard journey, no matter the healthy path you are taking, but for me right now I am officially loving Slimming World!!!!

Be prepared it’s a long one. Goodbye Pity Party and Hello Slimming World.

It’s time to face up to some hard truths. I haven’t posted in a long time,  has it really been 4 months? I should have listened to my mum, time really does go quicker as you get older!

I’ve been stalling posting too afraid to enter the blogosphere again, the internet can be a fickle place, the blogging world especially. But then I remembered why I started this blog and my corresponding page, it was to help not only me but others. Research has shown that losing weight together with a support system increases your chances of success, and knowing you aren’t the only one struggling can really help a person when they feel like a failure and believe me when it comes to weight loss I’ve felt like a failure, a lot!

So why has it taken me so long to come out of hiding?

I was ashamed, I had created a blog and page centred on weight loss yet I was sitting at home demolishing sharing bags of crisps and chocolate, having officially fallen off the wagon. I was a fraud. I was stuck in a viscous circle of binge eating and starving, neither of which I wanted to promote as a healthy lifestyle.

I created this blog to share the truths of weight loss and that includes falling off the wagon because let’s face it losing weight is hard!! But I couldn’t face it. I was watching the scales closely approaching my start weight from June 2014 and falling deeper into my pity party.

The last year has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, and now we come to June when I should be out celebrating having finished my final year at university, but in reality I’m at home still struggling away with my dissertation and piecing together my final portfolio, crawling inch by inch to the finish line. This past year has seen me battle with my own mental health once again, struggle to balance my home, work and university life as well as dealing with things that no one saw coming, and even now we don’t understand.

As friends and acquaintances asked how my weight loss was going I had my answer ready, “I’m taking it easy at the moment, with everything going on, but I’m joining Slimming World soon.” Hell even the doctor told me I should stop being so hard on myself and they were impressed I was managing so well.

But in reality I wasn’t. Weight loss is hard work, and anyone who says any different is an idiot (sorry, not sorry) it really isn’t as simple as eat less, move more. Yes those factors help obviously but it requires a lot of hard work, will power, determination and strength. I didn’t get to this size overnight so losing weight won’t happen over night either.

So many ‘diets’ focus on cutting out, or minimising your intake of certain food groups, some even offer meal replacements or ask you to skip meals entirely, how long is one person expected to sustain this? I certainly couldn’t do this. Would the person telling you “it’s simple eat less, move more” eliminate their favourite foods or food groups entirely and sustain it 24/7, 365 days a year? Probably not.

It is easy for people to dismiss overweight people as lazy over-eaters who prefer McDonalds to the gym, people goad overweight people, make fun of and judge but we are all people. We all have different things going on, we all have our own lives, we all have our own struggles that influence our eating habits. What impact does someone’s weight really have on your life, unless they are sitting on your face it really isn’t any of your concern surely?

Believe it or not overweight people can be healthy, the two can go hand in hand, yes weight may have a factor on their life later on down the line, but surely that is their business? At my biggest weight, apart from being a bit physically unfit I was healthy, I suffered no health issues related to being overweight. I couldn’t run round a football pitch that’s for sure but then again neither could a few of my size 8-10 friends. So I put my weight loss aside for a while, a little too long I will admit, but I had to take care of me first.

So many of us struggle with our weight, not just those of us who have a lot to lose, but those who are underweight and struggling, or with an extra muffin top they can’t shift, whether it is 7lbs or 100lbs you have to lose we all struggle.

So rewind to 7 weeks ago when  I drew the line, I’m 27 this year and should be dreaming of adventures, a bright future surrounded by friends, family and children one day. I have been so incredibly lucky that the only health complications I’ve had is an annual Winter chest infection and a death defying snore, but I’d be fooling myself to think I would remain this overweight morbidly obese (<— time to face hard facts!) and healthy.

I cannot control everything in my life but what I can control is my weight and what I eat and how this makes me feel as a person. My weight has never defined me and it never will and I’ve been lucky that I’ve always felt pretty confident, most of the time, but I want to live the best life possible, doing amazing things and living life to the full, I don’t want to be the one on the side happily waving and cheering you on I want to experience it first hand, grabbing each opportunity face on without first thinking of all the problems my weight might cause.

But I needed support. I know all the rules, of weight loss I know what works and doesn’t work, I’ve been on a diet on and off since I was a child literally, but I needed the discipline of a group. For so long I’d been telling people I was joining Slimming World soon so why not now?

On the 2nd of May I walked into my first slimming world group and I was a nervous wreck. When the moment came to finally get weighed I tipped the scales at 21 stone 11lb, I was gutted, I was only half a stone away from the weight that began this blogging journey two years ago! All the weight I had lost I had regained, I hadn’t been living in denial but this was tough to swallow. I threw myself into my first week, reading the booklet, the website, stalking Instagram pages, and concocting recipes. I had been a member of Slimming World before so knew if you stuck to plan it would work, so I kept determined, counting down the days for my first weigh in.

As Monday morning approached I was once again a nervous wreck, but this time I tipped the scales at 21 stone 3lb, I had lost a massive 8.5lb and got my first award all in my first week!!

I was hooked and 6 weeks later I still am.

1200 words later I’m sure I’ve bored everyone by now, so I’ll leave you all on my high note first week success!! But fear not this time I will be back soon, detailing what my first 7 weeks of Slimming World have taught me.

But for now I’ve got a syn free, speed packed, Slimming World meal to whip up!

© Sarah Woodside

Me with my first award! © Sarah Woodside