The Four Pillars: Food

How Weight Watchers fits in with many different eating preferences and styles.
The Four Pillars Food

Weight-loss success depends on finding a method that fits within one’s lifestyle and preferences. The Weight Watchers PointsPlus program is designed to make this happen.

The PointsPlus program is built on a simple to learn, flexible counting system that helps guide people towards healthier, more satisfying food choices. With greater satisfaction and the ability to build a plan that fits your life, lasting weight loss is more likely. Here is a snapshot of the PointsPlus program.

All food and drink has a PointsPlus value – a small, easy to remember number (e.g., 1, 2, 3). The number is derived from a formula, which factors in the way your body processes the major nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber, as well as how satisfying each of these nutrients are. The harder the body has to work to process certain nutrients in a food, the lower its PointsPlus value and the more eating satisfaction it provides. For example, protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates take more energy to process and are also more satisfying than fat and non-fiber rich carbohydrates. This means that the system is based on a more accurate measure of those nutrients’ impact on weight and provides guidance towards more satisfying choices.

The system also does not require exact weighing and measuring, but instead encourages a focus on the bigger picture by building awareness of food choices and eating reasonable portions.

Each person has a PointsPlus Target, based on current weight, height, gender and age, which is the total number of PointsPlus values for the day. Choosing foods to meet the Target ensures a healthful rate of weight loss. On the PointsPlus program, awareness of food choices is reinforced by tracking – a proven method to enhance weight-loss success.

This program also encourages the selection of Weight Watchers Power Foods that provide an easy way to focus on healthy, satisfying food choices. Each Power Food is chosen based on a system that assesses that food’s ability to provide eating satisfaction as well as its impact on health (the system looks at the amount of sugar, sodium, saturated fat, total fat and/or fiber a food contains in comparison to similar foods). Foods are ranked within categories and those that rank the highest are designated as Power Foods.

In addition to Power Foods, the PointsPlus program is designed so fruits and most vegetables have a PointsPlus value of zero to encourage their consumption.

Flexible Restraint
Developing the skill of flexible restraint, which is the ability to put a moderate level of control on your eating, is important to weight-loss success. The key is to find the balance between control and flexibility in an eating plan that is not so rigid that it is impossible to stick with. To help build this skill, the PointsPlus program includes a feature called the weekly PointsPlus Allowance. The weekly PointsPlus Allowance provides a system for having treats and indulgences without sacrificing weight loss. By using this feature and experiencing the ability to incorporate day-to-day food challenges into a method that provides weight loss without rigid food rules, the invaluable skill of flexible restraint is learned.

When following the food plan, there are some fundamental choices essential for good health and nutrition. Weight Watchers covers these in its Good Health Guidelines that include the daily recommendation to:

  • Include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (9 if you weight more than 350 pounds).

  • Have at least 2 servings of milk; 3 if you are a nursing mom, a teenager, are over 50 or weigh more than 250 pounds.

  • Drink at least 6 glasses of nonalcoholic drinks.

  • Get a serving or two of a protein-rich food.

  • Take a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement.

  • Limit added sugars, sodium and alcohol.

  • Have 2 teaspoons of healthy oil, including olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, or flaxseed.

  • Choose whole-grain foods whenever possible.

  • Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Finding an eating approach that works is key to weight-loss success. The Weight Watchers food plan is designed to reach the objective of a healthy weight loss, but do so by empowering the person to make food choices in a way that suits his or her preferences and lifestyle.