UnFoodie Masters Weight Watchers PointsPlus

By Karen

Part 3 – What All the Counting’s About

Weight Watchers® has weathered every dieting fad since the 1960s and is widely recognized as the safest way to lose weight. If you stick to the plan, it does work — but you’ll never eat like a “normal” American again.

Weight Watchers translates calories to “points” based on certain factors, which change as nutritional science evolves. The latest plan is PointsPlus+™ 2012, and P+ values comprise, among other things…

  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Protein

The other things are fruits and vegetables which, for the first time, have 0 points.

For the first two weeks, I became semi-anorexic, afraid to eat anything and blow it before I got a handle on points. And I lost 5 lbs.

I get 26 points a day, based on my starting weight of 177. Heavier people will get more points, which get reduced as they lose, but I think 26 is the lowest it goes.

I also get 49 mad points weekly, sort of an overdraft account I can tap when faced with normal food, like burgers and fries and birthday cake.

You can also earn exercise points to exchange for food.

P+ are higher on many foods than previously because WW is back-dooring fruits and vegetables. So even though they say some things are worth 0, there’s no free lunch.

Just to give you some idea of P+, a 3-oz. serving of chicken or shrimp is 3 points, but a 3-oz. steak is 7.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Sometimes when you double the quantity of a food, its P+ value more than doubles.

For example, a teaspoon of canola oil is 1, but a tablespoon (3 teaspoons) is 4.

Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal: ½ cup is 2, but a full cup 5.

It also happens with some Light Progresso soups, which bear P+ values on their labels — for half a can. If one serving is 2, the whole can may be only 3 — or 5.

Two Eggo whole-grain blueberry waffles are 5, but one waffle is 2. Two tbsp. Smuckers Blueberry Syrup is 3, but you can hit every waffle dent using only ½ tsp. worth 0.

WW claims you can eat ANYTHING, but you’re punished pretty severely for most carbs, even the healthy ones. A 2-oz. (dry) serving of any whole-grain pasta is 5 — this is maybe 4-5 forkfuls — and that’s before sauce or cheese.

So having embraced PointsPlus, I find myself thinking about food a LOT, and it’s mostly scheming to game the system to survive on the fewest points while avoiding total veganism.

I load a plate with veggies, add a lousy deck-of-cards-sized chicken breast, and my eyes are fooled into thinking I’ve got a huge meal for only 3 points.

It’s impossible to accurately calculate P+ in your head, so WW sells a special calculator for $14.95, which will keep you from making fatal errors at the grocery store. (Tip: Buy it at a local WW chapter and save the outrageous $8.95 shipping the site charges.)

With my calculator, I went through my kitchen with a Sharpie, writing P+ values on everything. When I discovered that one ultra-thin slice of Sargento cheese is 3, I gave it away. Now it’s Laughing Cow wedges for 1.

Next…PointsPlus vs. reality.


8 Responses to UnFoodie Masters Weight Watchers PointsPlus

  1. jimmie chew says:

    I think I might try this myself!

  2. Bacardi1 says:

    I have to give you a lot of credit for doing this. I know without even trying that I’d never be able to stick to anything that required all that counting & calculating.

  3. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, my only reward is the number on the scale. I’m down 14 lbs. now. A couple of items of clothing are feeling a little looser, but nothing dramatic yet. I’m looking forward to the day when stuff is hanging on me.

    Once you get into it, if you stay out of restaurants, you find that you tend to eat the same things week in, week out, so you get to know the points without measuring or calculating. Of course, it takes virtually all the pleasure out of eating (not that I was much into that anyway).

    In the 9 weeks I’ve been on WW, I’ve eaten out exactly once. And that was a regular roast beef at Arby’s (9 points) with Arby’s sauce (0). I skipped my usual curly fries because I wanted to have some movie popcorn (12) AND be able to eat some dinner — if only a vegetable salad with light dressing (1).

    I’ve been reading the WW message boards, and lots of women talk about being back for the umpteenth time, which is proof to me that this is not a sustainable way to eat unless you embrace a life of deprivation and become such a total pain in the ass, nobody will ever want to eat with you. But I’d like to get down to an attractive weight/size again, and then I’ll deal with how not to regain it — again.

  4. Bacardi1 says:

    Yup – “returnees” to Weight Watchers is how they make all that $$$$, which is why I’d NEVER use them. Not to mention my grandmother was on WW from when I was a sprout to the day she died & she NEVER seemed to lose any weight.

    Also, I’m definitely a “foodie” – LOVE to cook; LOVE to eat. My only saving grace is that I’m not a big bread or dessert fan. Don’t care much for sweets.

  5. Zappa's Mom says:

    Wow,Karen,you are made of better stuff than me.Im ok with eating all my fruit and veggies,but I’ve never said no to french fries….or birthday cake(I believe it’s bad luck for the bday celebrant if you DON’T eat their birthday cake.)


    PS can you have wine?

  6. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, anybody who’s on WW for years and doesn’t lose weight isn’t doing it right. And I think earlier plans probably weren’t as effective because they weren’t dealing with the big picture. You used to be able to calculate points in your head (I don’t remember how anymore, but I did it).

    It’s virtually impossible to be a foodie and a WW because the points in oil and butter and anything else worth eating will kill you every time, unless you want to make a big dish and only eat 2 bites of it.

    My sister, who has had great success, stands by eating enormous amounts of vegetables, with a lot of spices and hot sauces. She says it fills her up, and she lost weight a lot faster than I’m doing. She’s traveling now, but maybe she’ll share some other tips when she gets back. I think if you eat the way she does now, even if you’re not on WW, you’ll lose weight.

    I’m not a big fruit-eater, so that has been a strain, but this morning my breakfast consisted of nothing but cantaloupe (0) and a banana (0).

    ZM, yes, you can have wine or any other liquor. A jigger of booze or 5 oz. of wine are 4 points.

  7. ashley says:

    3 slices of the sargento ultra thin = 3 points+, because a serving is 3 slices. 1 slice = 1 p+.

    also, weight watchers has a free app that includes a free calculator to calculate all your foods on the go. and for people who don’t have smart phones, if you are a member their website comes with a built in calculator.

  8. catsworking says:

    Ashley, are you telling me I gave away that expensive cheese for nothing? I thought a serving was one slice and it was 3 Points+. I’ll have to recheck that in the grocery store.

    I bought the little handheld calculator at a WW branch ($14.95, no shipping) so I could calc points anywhere. I keep it in my purse.

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