So after a long time of using the Weight Watchers PointsPlus system of eating while staying at relatively the same weight (gaining one week, losing the next, gaining back the following, etc.), I’ve decided to go back to using the old Points system for a bit. There are several good reasons to switch Points plans — even back and forth every so often over a long period — and in my case, I know it’s time to do that again.
To begin with, I’m totally abusing fruits. Completely and unabashedly becoming a fruit addict. Which is obviously better than being, say, an ice cream addict, but at the end of the day, carbs are carbs. The problem with relying too much on fruit with the PointsPlus system is two-fold.
First, your plan goes from being “vegetables are free” to “vegetables and fruits are free,” and odds are you’re going to start cutting your daily vegetable intake to make room for fruits, even if you’re not consciously doing it. It took actually charting out my veggie and fruit intake over time (comparing recent food diaries to those from a couple of years ago when I was on the old Points plan) for me to see the difference in intake. Sure, fruits are beneficial, but I was eating fruits on the old plan back in the day — it’s just that I was spending points on them. A small bowl of fresh cherries at the end of the night was a treat, accounted for in my Daily Points Allowance. On PointsPlus, when fruits are free, I eat that bowl of cherries anyway at some point in the day (INSTEAD of a serving or two of veggies)…and then at night, when I have a few points leftover to spare, I use them to eat something less nutritious as my end-of-day “sweet.” Couple that with a lack of extra veggies for the day, and my day isn’t nearly as nutritious when you look at the nutritional ratio (Carbs/Fat/Protein) as it was on the old Points system, even if the calories and points counts fall within range for both.
The second problem with me and 0-point fruits is that I’m feeding the carb monster. More specifically, the sugar monster. Point of interest: I do NOT think carbs are bad. Not at all. However, I also don’t think all carbs are created equal. And even though eating a bowl of watermelon at lunch is better than eating a candy bar, odds are good — at least with my personal body and cravings — that if I eat fructose in the afternoon, I’m probably going to just keep craving more sugar as the day gets longer, and after I’ve exhausted my supply of fruit in the work fridge, I’ll start eyeing a vending machine or ice cream sign more ravenously than I would have if I hadn’t even eaten the watermelon to begin with. Nope, for me, I think I need to switch, for a while, to restricting my fruit intake to evening snacks and special instances rather than knowing that every day I can cram a 6-oz. container of fresh raspberries or grapes in my face in one setting just because they’re “free” and not taking away my daily points. They’re not calorie-free, and once I’ve awakened the sugar beast, it’s hard to get him to go back to sleep.
In conjunction with the whole fruit situation, there are other “sweets alternatives” that I used to use as go-to options if the carb beast did rear its ugly head during the day — non-perishable, shelf-stable stuff I could keep in a drawer at work if I didn’t have access to any fresh fruit and was willing to sacrifice a small amount of points for a snack. However, with the new PointsPlus system, a lot of these suddenly became much higher in points value than they used to be, and while I understand the reasoning behind the points adjustments, I still miss some of these snacks. Now, my favorite CLIFF bar will set me back more than a 3-Musketeer bar. And when I look at that comparison, the “hangry” afternoon version of me rationalizes, “Hey, I used to eat a CLIFF bar several times a week on the old points. That must mean that NOW on Points Plus, I can eat that many 3-Musketeer bars a week and still come out ahead!” Obviously, that is a terrible idea that makes no sense to a normal person, nor to me when I’m not craving sugar, but there you are. It happens, so now I have to learn from that experience (and extra bit around my middle again), and go back to more tried-and-true methods from my past.
I haven’t sworn off PointsPlus by any means — I think shaking up which system you use periodically is good for reassessing those go-to favorites and for identifying “problem foods” in your own diet that may be causing a plateau without you realizing that’s what’s doing it. However, for now, I do believe I’ll be returning to life as an old-points gal.
Does anyone else do this — change back and forth every year or so — or am I just a weirdo who can’t keep things simple?
To read more about the differences between Points and PointsPlus systems on Weight Watchers, check out my original comparison page here.