If you are a member of Weight Watchers, you already know this. If not, you may be interested in knowing that famed weight loss organization has revamped its famous points system. The new plan takes into account the kind of calories and nutritional value of food.
And, boy, are people upset! Not only are the calculations a little harder, but people are complaining that they have to eat more to hit their point goal. So cowed are we that we can’t think for ourselves and enjoy our bounty.
Although I’m not a member, I have admired Weight Watchers as being a sensible, healthy way to lose weight and maintain it. The WW program has been about gradual weight loss and finding eating plans individuals can live with. The only problem with their system is that nutritional value was not taken into account. Many people have lamented that many of the program’s line of frozen foods are heavy in salt and additives even if they keep calories and fat in check.
“Fifteen years ago we said a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. If you ate 100 calories of butter or 100 calories of chicken, it was all the same. Now, we know that is not the case.”
That’s Karen Miller-Kovach, the chief food scientist at Weight Watchers in an interview with the New York Times. The new points system takes into account the difference between empty calories and nutritious ones. Fruit and vegetables, especially whole ones, count for less. That gives you the freedom to eat more of them. Processed foods count for more, encouraging dieters to eat less of those. The overall effect is that most programs now have a higher weekly point total amount.
You would think that would be greeted with cheers. You can now eat more while still losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. But that’s not the case. Comments on the Weight Watchers website have been full of anger and complaints. In the Times story, one commenter was quoted as saying:
“I don’t want to be forced to choose veggies. I do NOT like veggies or fruit.”
Comments like that kind of make you wonder just what these people are really committed to if not losing weight and being healthy. Part of the popularity of Weight Watchers is the more lenient, less judgmental attitude toward fast foods and convenient store-bought meals that are such an ingrained part of the American diet. But WW has tried to stay current. They have realized that losing weight is not as easy as “fewer calories in than those burned.” They have noticed that the kind of calories matter. This isn’t really ground-breaking news. But if you live in an oversimplified life where you don’t have to think, this is like telling people there is no Easter Bunny. They see this as a moral issue. There must be clear choices between good and bad, they say. After all, how less thrilling that cheating piece of candy is if it’s just another point that knocks out half your dinner.
The point here is that losing weight is a lot harder than many people think. The simple formula of calories burned more than calories eaten just doesn’t cut it, and never did. Like most things in life, it’s complicated. That’s why it’s important to engage in a weight loss program with the help of your physician and a registered dietician or nutritionist. Everyone is different. There is no such thing as “one size fits all.” And these changes in the Weight Watcher points system reflect our growing knowledge about food and our own bodies. It takes a little more thought about our food, and that’s a good thing.