Photo by Lori Wright
Recently, I saw an episode of "The Diet Doctor" on FitTV focusing on the Weight Watchers plan. It was interesting to see the plan from the point of view of an informed outsider.
One of Dr. Melina's criticisms of the plan was that the Flex Plan would allow you to eat unhealthy foods as long as you stayed within your points. I think the example she used is that you could eat seven cupcakes and be within your points.
At first I yelled back at the TV with my my well-conditioned responses from years of WW meetings. "What about the Good Health Guidelines?" The guidelines, for those of you who are not brainwashed like me, require that members eat certain kinds of foods, like five servings of fruits and vegetables, in addition to staying under their points. But I know that I've had days where I have eaten, if not seven cupcakes, a combination of various questionable choices that were under my points. Those guidelines are easy to ignore.
I liked the answer that the Weight Watchers leader gave Dr. Melina better than my own response. To paraphrase, she said that Weight Watchers understands that a dieter might do something like eat seven cupcakes one day. But she'd also see that maybe seven cupcakes wasn't the most satisfying way to use her points. The program was designed to help people learn through experience and the discussions in meetings how to make better choices.
Imagine that, letting dieters learn for themselves and figure out how to make better choices. Putting people in a position of power and teaching them how to take care of themselves.
Sure, some of the meetings that I've attended have focused on low-points junk food. People like to make concoctions out of fat-free Cool Whip, sugar-free Jello, and Fiber One where you can eat a huge bowl of something sweet for a tiny number of points. And lately, people are talking a lot about the 100-calorie packs of every conceivable type of junk food. Weight Watchers gets a lot of money to advertise this stuff in their publications, which I find a to be a little bit of a conflict of interest. But I think that, overall, the message is more about finding ways to deal with your feelings without food, and to make healthier meals. The recipes in Weight Watchers Magazine are really good ones with real ingredients, not a bunch of fat-free, sugar-free junk.
Even on the days I go way over my points, I eat a lot better foods than I used to. I guess that I have learned over the years, exactly like that leader said, how to choose foods that help satisfy me. I recently found an Oreo wrapper in my yard and it was funny to think that I knew that it had blown in from a neighbor's yard because I never buy Oreos. I don't even go to the aisle in the store where they sell Oreos.
My local grocery store has a sort of mini health-foods store built in. Right before you get to the produce aisle, there is a section with organic frozen foods and dairy, and packaged foods like cereal and crackers. Most of the processed foods I do buy lately are from that section. I like the Food for Life sprouted grain breads, especially toasted. I'm a big fan of Kashi products: the crackers, granola bars, and frozen waffles are a staple in my diet, maybe a little too much of one. I'm sure I could improve my diet even more by cutting back on them. Other than those splurges, and a brand of blue corn tortilla chips I really like, most of my groceries are from the meat and produce aisles. And soon, the farmer's markets will be open and I'll be getting good local produce again instead of having to buy veggies that were flown in from California or Chile.
The biggest change is that I eat vegetables now. I never knew how to cook them right until I started watching Kathleen Daelemans on her show "Cooking Thin" (which is, sadly, no longer on the air, but I'm hoping she'll have a new show soon) and tried some of her recipes. Now I even take recipes like this one for Pad Thai and add in more vegetables (in this case, red peppers and broccoli instead of the bean sprouts) to make them more satisfying.
So, for those of you who have been wondering, after reading so many posts where I complain that I've gone over my points, how I lose weight at all, now you have your answer. Even when I overdo, I'm still conscious of what I'm eating and try to make better choices than I did during my all-starch-all-the-time days. I can't tell you the last time I pulled through a drive-thru. I think my bad days might be better than my normal days used to be. Though I still have room for improvement, maybe I should focus on the positive a little more -- that through trial and error, I have figured out a recipe for satisfaction that works for me 90% of the time.