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Weight Watchers PointsPlus Recipe Calculations – Any Insights?

Posted Feb 25 2011 4:09pm

As you guys may know, I’m a Weight Watcher Insider . That basically means I get to annoy them with my pesky little questions while getting invited to fun Weight Watcher events . ;)

In all seriousness, ever since the release of the new PointsPlus program I’ve been a bit confused while calculating PointsPlus for my recipes. I’m not officially following the program but I still like to calculate for my own knowledge and I figure it would give me some practice for when I get back on the program after baby.

Since I’m not attending meetings, I don’t have a Leader I could chat with. So I decided to shoot them the following question…

As a Weight Watchers member who LOVES to cook, I have a few questions regarding the new PointsPlus and recipes. I noticed when I begin to enter ingredients into the recipe builder that recipes with a majority of "free" fruits and vegetables increase in PointsPlus value fairly quickly. For example, I recently made a salad using, ( Click here for my Citrus Spinach Salad with Pomegranates and Walnuts )

  • 1 Ruby Red grapefruit,
  • 1 Orange,
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw spinach leaves,
  • 1 oz (28g) Pomegranate, and
  • 1/2 oz (14g) Walnuts

As you can see, the recipe is all fruits and vegetables except for the walnuts. However, when I enter the recipe in eTools I get a value of 8 PointsPlus which seems awfully high for a salad composed of "free" ingredients. Fellow members recommended I simply skip the fruits and veggies and only count the walnuts. Is that the official Weight Watchers position? I understand there is a level of common sense needed when approaching the plan but the difference in points between just the walnuts compared to nutritional information of the recipe as a whole is a substantial 5 PointsPlus.

How does Weight Watchers advise point calculations for recipe that contain fruit and vegetables? What is the best approach and are their any best practices?

This is the response I was given..

Just as we’ve always done with 0 PointsPlus value vegetables, 0 PointsPlus value fresh fruits contribute toward the total PointsPlus values of a recipe, whether it’s a Weight Watchers recipe or one you build yourself in the Recipe Builder.

The technical explanation is that because recipes are calculated based on the total grams of fat, fiber, protein and carbs for all their ingredients. As one poster on the Message Boards, DANI_THE_GECKO, wisely points out: “The recipe builder only knows that you input nutritional information. It does not know if it’s fruit, green beans or heavy cream.”

But why do we do it this way? There are a couple of very good reasons why we count fruits and veggies in our recipes:

• Our recipes often appear in articles and magazines nationally, so we need to provide the calories and nutrient content, as many recipes published elsewhere do.

• Once vegetables and fruit are elements in a prepared recipe, the experience of eating them changes. Few people overeat carrots — but they might overeat carrot cake.

If your “recipe” is truly just a few pieces of fruit, then you might want to record it in your Tracker as separate items or as a “meal” — the latter looks at each item separately and then adds up all the PointsPlus values. Because all the items have 0 PointsPlus values, the total will also be zero.

This really wasn’t the response I was looking for. I kind of understand WHY it’s happening. I’m more interested in what Weight Watchers recommends but the response did shed some light for me on the subject.

I have not yet decided how I will "count" these types of recipes on PointsPlus. On the old plan I would have have counted 1 point for each fruit–which would give me 3–plus the walnuts–2–which would give me a total of 5 points. Only 1 point off from the 6 I get when I use the nutritional information for the points calculation.

The thing that intrigues me the most about this particular PointsPlus conundrum is that I thought the shift to the new formula would favor more whole food and non-processed choices but when I started to take a closer at PointsPlus base purely on nutritional information I see some discrepancies. For example, the nutritional profile of the salad I listed above is…

Calories: 300 Fat: 10 Fiber: 10 Protein: 7 Carb: 53

The nutritional profile for 2 twinkies is according to CalorieKing is….

Calories: 300 Fat: 9 Fiber: 0 Protien: 2 Carb: 54

Both give me 8 PointsPlus, if my calculations are correct. Now of course, common sense says the salad is a much better choice but I thought the new points were suppose to help alleviate this kind of point manipulation. This leads me to believe that counting the fruit and veggies in a recipe is not recommended since they are free but I’m just not sure.

With the old plan I never got such a vast difference in points if I included the nutritional information for "free" or low point ingredients. At most the different would be 1-2 points and I’d just always round up trying not to cheat the system. But the new plan seems to have more and greater discrepancies.

I’m really NOT trying to pick on the new PointsPlus program. That’s not my intention at all. I just like to fully understand the program and points before I dive in come April and I’m honestly curious. With the old plan I never experienced this level of confusion and I think it’s just because most of the point discrepancies encountered were so minor.

I’m really curious what other members are doing and what their experience is with the new plan. I am planning on attending meetings and embracing the new plan post-baby, so any insights are welcome. I’d like to really have a good handle on PointsPlus so it’s not overwhelming when I’m nursing a newborn and preparing to host a conference !

Any thoughts? Best practices?

Full Disclosure: As a Weight Watcher’s Insider, Weight Watchers provides me with access to products and information. As always, any thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. I do not represent Weight Watchers in any way, I’m just a lifetime member. Points and PointsPlus are both registered trademarks of Weight Watchers.

If you are not reading this on Roni's Weigh OR your RSS reader then it has been plagiarized!

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