Weight Watchers Changes Points Plan, But Is It Better?

Weight Watchers has always been one of the most trusted diet plans out there. Unlike a lot of other plans, it can point to clinical studies that say it works, and it's based on sound nutritional science ... no whackjobby demonizing of whole groups of food, no prepackaged meals containing heaven only knows what, just common sense nutritional advice.

People swear by their Points Plan: You can eat anything you want, as long as you stay within your daily Points total. People who have been on the plan for a long time, or joined and rejoined about a bazillion times, know the point values of all kinds of foods by heart and also know how to "game the system" to eat their favorite foods without blowing their points.

So Weight Watchers devotees just about lost their minds when Weight Watchers unveiled its new Points Plus plan last week. While some people loved it, others were seriously ticked off.


The new plan makes almost all fruits and vegetables point-free. Which, if you like fruits and vegetables, makes you say, "WAHOO!!" You can actually fill up on good-for-you foods without missing out on occasional treats. However, it also recalculates the amount of points in most foods, with whole, unprocessed ones carrying fewer points than processed Frankenfood.

Some people are furious over this. It used to be that an apple and a 100-calorie pack of Oreos were the same points (two). People who were perhaps less concerned with nutrition could nosh away on those Oreos, while people who were more concerned with the overall nutrition of their diets as much as the points would think "Do I really want to blow two points on an apple? No way," and end up choosing something less healthy.

Now, an apple has zero points, while the Oreos are now three points. Members have been pouting that they don't like fruits and vegetables, and they don't want to eat them and their meeting leader can't make them and now it feels like a diet! Wahhhh!

What they are overlooking (beyond the obvious fact that fruits and vegetables are good for you and can fill you up for few calories) is that the plan has always strongly encouraged members to eat their fruits and veggies, and no one is making them do anything. They've also bumped up the daily and weekly points members can eat by quite a bit to reflect the new, higher points values of many foods, so those Oreos will still fit just fine in most people's eating plans. 

I think this is outstanding: I lost quite a bit of weight on a Weight Watchers plan that preceded the Points plan, and a big part of it was that fruits and vegetables were unlimited, so you could eat them to fill up and never get hungry. Contrast that with the most recent plan, which made things like bananas and carrots the same point values as junk food even though they were much healthier. That doesn't actually encourage long-term healthy eating. I think Points Plus will reward people for making healthier choices and teach them to eat well, which is a recipe for long-lasting weight loss. And if you want to spend all your points on cheeseburgers and fries and never touch a veggie? That's your choice.

The only thing I don't like is that in addition to meeting fees and joining fees and whatever else, you now have to purchase a little calculator to figure out the point values of everything.    

Are you mad about the new Points Plus plan?

Image via Amy Moss(mini true)/Flickr

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