When Zero Doesn't Equal Zero

Ever wonder whether foods with a PointsPlus™ value of zero are too good to be true? Read on to learn how to enjoy them while continuing to enjoy progress on the plan.
When Zero Doesnt Equal Zero
My first weeks on plan were practically a religious experience for me. I kept track of PointsPlus™ values like my life depended on it and sniffed out low PointsPlus value foods like a hound on a hunt. I hoped to discover the lowest PointsPlus value options ever created. Finding new foods with PointsPlus values of zero thrilled me nearly as much as finding crumpled twenty-dollar bills in the dryer.

The idea of zero PointsPlus values fascinated me. How could a food have a PointsPlus value of zero? I decided to ask around. Suddenly I discovered a massive grey area of myths and intricacies around these no PointsPlus-value gems. Everyone had a different answer to my query into how to best leverage the zeros, so I decided to go straight to the source, read everything and compile some truths.

The truth, according to Maria Walls, Manager of Program Development for Weight Watchers International, is that "the idea of the zero PointsPlus value food was not created as such; they are the result of the calculation of the proprietary Weight Watchers formula at a particular calorie level." The only true "zero" is a vegetable or fruit that occurs naturally from the earth. They are the only zero that when eaten by the bagful can still be called a zero. According to Maria, the idea of the "free" fruit and vegetable was created to give members a break from counting these very low-calorie foods that "generally did not contribute to weight gain."

The other type of food with a PointsPlus value of zero is one that is a processed food, such as "lite" whipped topping. A two-tablespoon serving of this food — and two tablespoons of whipped topping is, generally speaking, far less than any human wants to consume! — has a PointsPlus value of zero. Should you ingest the second serving at that same sitting, you would need to double the all the nutritional info and recalculate. It quickly multiplies to several PointsPlus values. The tub itself contains 25 servings (which I have handily polished off in less than 24 hours). Calculated correctly, that adds up to a PointsPlus value of 8 for the whole container.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty. If I carefully measure my two tablespoons of whipped topping in the afternoon, calling it zero, can I eat a second serving later in the day for zero? In fact you can. Sigh of relief! Officially, the PointsPlus Weight-Loss System provides an allowance for "man-made" (non-veggie) zeros. The plan suggests that any member limit their servings of zeros to five a day. In the long run, your weight loss will be the guide. If weight loss is slow, you might want to pull back on the zeros. Remember all foods have calories.

Also know that the leading cause of plateaus is "relaxed adherence to the plan." Maria advises that members "be sensible" about their intake of the zeros. What a grand idea. Too bad my taste buds seem to get in the way of my being sensible!

The foods with a PointsPlus value of zero allow for some flexibility and just a bit more choice. Monitor the zeros well and they can add an enormous amount of enjoyment to your Plan, but stop watching them carefully and you tempt the plateau gods to visit you!

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