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Nov 16, 2011 06:27 PM

Calling all Weight Watchers!

Hi everyone,

I just started up this diet a few days ago, on my own, and really want to succeed and lose some extra baggage.

I am a home cook, and making litle adjustments to my cooking (i.e., steaming sometimes, less oil in the pan), is not too hard. I like to think I never cooked unhealthy to begin with (portion control is another matter altogether). Fruits and veggies are stars in my house, as is lean protein, whole grains, skim dairy, etc. (My skinny hubby and skinny sons are currently getting all their food doused with olive oil :) ).

But a girl doesn't have the energy to cook every meal, every day. I'm hoping to get some ideas for what packaged foods are out there that are tasty, reasonable on # of points, and are go-tos for all of you. I have the bread, crackers, cookies, puddings, cheese etc that I normally buy for breakfasts and snacks, but that is where all the points are hiding I have discovered. I need some replacements.

Also, please let me know if you've made some great WW substitutions (as a shopper or a cook) for regular (B.W.W.) foods you used to eat. I heard something about a diet soda cake mix?!

In short, I'm hoping to gather all the tips that you'd hear about at a meeting over many weeks of attending, all in one thread, for the benefit of any brave soul who is on this train with me.


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  1. Hi Sasha,
    There is a Weight Watcher Foodies thread on Home cooking, you might want to search for that. I don't actually buy a lot of packaged foods, I am fortunate to have a recently retired husband, who does a lot of our weeknight cooking. Some of our best "go to" meals are spaghetti and spinach meatballs from has tons of excellent recipes, lots of which can be done ahead. Another thing we do is buy a lot of boneless skinless chicken breast, and marinate it in whatever you like ( many marinades are points free) and grill it. I take a lot of green salads to work for lunches. Another good thing (zero points) is sugar free jello. Best wishes for your success:)

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunflwrsdh

      Thank you :) I'll go and get some of that jello. I put this thread here rather than on the cooking board because I really am fishing for (1) decent packaged foods and (2) random ww concoctions that take the place of higher fat foods that we sometimes really crave - like the diet soda cake.

      I know about the cooking thread, and am interested in perusing it soon. One thing I know about myself is that reading about food, or watching it, makes me eat more. So I'll save that for mealtime, when I'm eating anyhow.

    2. Several of the Lean Cusine frozen dinners are pretty tasty. I don't have Points specifics, but some of the Weight Watchers at my work use these meals too. The work freezer is filled with them (we write initials non the boxes we bring). I like these better than a lot of the frozen meals with strangle glazed, floppy sauces. I also keep a bag of frozen chopped broccoli in the work freezer and add some veggies to the dinners before tossing them in the microwave.

      Progresso canned soups are also pretty good. They are ready to eat and have a flip top. One whole can makes a satisfying lunch. The lable shows one can is a few servings, but even taking that into account, they (most of the ones I like) are low fat, high fiber.

      2 Replies
      1. re: calliope_nh

        My experience is that the Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones dinners aren't necessarily very filling, so I throw a handful of chopped veggies or sliced mushrooms on top before cooking. (There will be enough sauce. There is *always* enough sauce.) Then drizzling a teaspoon or so of olive oil adds some flavor and a healthy-oils serving as well, and is only one Point. You may have to increase the cooking time.

        1. re: Cactus Wren

          Tis true, they aren't very filling are they! I always, always try to bring leftover steamed/roasted veggies with me to supplement my lunches - frozen or not. :)

          OP, I think you're on the right track! If you have a smart phone and are paying for WW online, you can download the WW app - it has a scanner feature. You scan the barcode of the product, it tells you the points plus value. awesome. (if the food is in the database, of course.)

          we don't do a lot of crackers anymore in my house - it was too easy for us to get carried away. But IIRC, special K has some tasty thin crackers. Laughing cow cheese is hugely popular - similar points value to the ww cheese, but much more tasty according to DH - I don't do dairy so I wouldn't know. For my chocolate fix I rely on Dove chocolate bites - its 6 points plus for 5, but only 1 for 1! I savor those little things - and they are chocolatey enough to satisfy me.

          The diet coke cake is dead easy - get yourself a box mix, add a can of diet soda. mix, bake according to the package directions. Diet cola works well with chocolate, try lemon lime soda with a lemon cake mix, orange with a white cake for an orange chiffon... if you google diet coke cake you'll find a list of flavor combinations. no one will know the difference - it makes a very moist cake. One of my favorites tho - even better than DC cake is to add 1 cup of pureed pumpkin, 1 cup of water and an egg (or 1/4 c egg beater) to a chocolate cake mix. I add a cup of mint chocolate chips and bake @ 350 for 30-35 minutes I think. (recipe is at home) you get a moist fudgy cake and no one can tell you didn't use the oil and the eggs. this combination also works well with a spice cake mix to make pumpkin muffins - without the chocolate chips of course, lol!

      2. So, you are not going to meetings? If you have to weigh in before a group, that's a pretty big incentive for not cheating. Also, you have people to chat with to share experiences.

        I have tried every damn diet ever devised. I did Weight Watchers for a while but since I'm not into that sort of thing, I never went to the meetings.

        Listen, stop thinking about eating crap like diet soda cake. That is the whole point of points. You can eat what you want, but adjust according. If you want a real piece of chocolate cake, just arrange your points around that when you need to.

        And skip the diet jello. Sorry, but that isn't good for you. And when you start doing all these substitues such as phony sugar, it just makes you want the real thing.

        This is what is in diet Jello "Gelatin, Adipic Acid (for Tartness), Disodium Phosphate (Controls Acidity), Maltodextrin (from Corn), Fumaric Acid (for Tartness), Aspartame (Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine.) (Sweetener), Contains Less than 2% of Artificial Flavor, Acesulfame Potassium (Sweetener), Salt, Blue 1, Red 40."

        Do you really want to put that in your body?

        You might trick your stomach for a moment, but your brain kicks in and says "Hey, this isn't food. I'm hungry".

        Anyway, if you want some low point snacks, go with stuff that has some nutrional benefit for you.

        Since you mention portion control and cheese, those string cheese singles are good. Laughing Cow is good because of the portion control as is Bon Bel. They last forever in the fridge so you always have something like that availabe. TJ has some little individual pieces of brie like Laughing Cow. Not sure the point value on those though.

        Yogurt is good. If you go for the light stuff, while there is artificial sweetener, there's the protein from the dairy. Better yet is to buy plain yogurt and add a little jelly.

        Popcorn is good with creative spices.

        The best is to look for snacks that are individual serving size. Pringles have those little plastic serving cups if you must have chips every now and then.

        I won't give you diet tips in general since you ask about Weight Watchers. However, the benefit of good eating programs like Weight Watchers is not to change the food to fit the diet, but to change the way you eat no matter what the food is.

        12 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          I like Cheddar Cheese Rice Cakes for salty snacking and Skinny Cow Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich for sweet snacking.

          Dr. Oz says to drink two 8 oz glasses of water before a meal.

          And along with watching what you eat, add some exercise in your daily routine. Walking on a treadmill for 1/2 hr, three times a week is a reasonable goal for me.

          Cut your carbs and protein in half and keep cheese to a minimum. I'm not into Weight Watches per se, but they do have a great program.

          And remember, it's a journey, not a race. I have failed miserably from rushing to meet my goals.

          1. re: mcel215

            Dr. Oz also says skip the Skinny Cow and eat regular ice cream.

            I didn't want to give general diet advice because that is not what the OP asked for.

            No one on Weight Watches or anything should be rushing to meet goals There should be no goal other than revising the way you eat, not necessarily what you eat. And you are right it is a journey, a life-long journey.

            I have failed miserably on lots of diets because I tried to change the food I ate be that using diet food, high carb, low carb, etc. It can't be a diet. It needs to be an eating plan.

            You need to think about what your are eating and plan accordingly. Anyone doing mindless snacking, no matter what the point value is will have trouble sticking on an eating plan.

            That is what is behind those Weight Watcher points. It doesn't say eat specific foods, only be aware of the weight of food based on points and plan what you eat accordingly.

            Which is why I say skip the diet soda cake and eat the real cake but plan around it.

            Along with that, is awareness of the nutritional value of food. Our bodies also crave a lot of things and anyone focusing on certain foods and lowering others is going to start craving what the body is missing. Make it a nutrionally well-balanced meal and be mindful of what goes into your mouth.

            1. re: rworange

              I didn't know that Dr. Oz says to skip Skinny Cow. I had no choice, I had a gallbladder attack and "no dairy", until surgery. I needed a couple of treats during the summer and liked Skinny Cow. And it saved me from feeling deprived. Thanks for the info.

          2. re: rworange

            I appreciate the sentiment of what you are saying regarding real foods vs processed. But let me clarify. I cook 2-3 meals per day every day, out of stuff that grows on trees, in the ground, or has 4 legs. Most of the processed foods I have in my kitchen are condiments.

            But I'm used to, and enjoy, cake or cookies or ice cream a time or two each week. And before I can go cold turkey, I need to find a middle ground. As you say, it's changing your life and moderation. At the moment, my points are entirely filled up for the day with regular food, because I am adjusting the portions that I've been used to, and that are too large. So I don't have room in my week to devote 15 points to a piece of real chocolate cake. I may have 5 points for a fake one.

            I can agree with your ideals, but not in general with idealism. I live in the real world. And I'm not about to exchange the cheerios and rice krispies I have for hot spelt and teff cereal that I harvested myself. Nor am I going to feel guilty about consuming packaged foods, which make up 10% of my diet, in order to give myself a break on the cooking front.

            In the past few years, I have steered clear of single packaged foods for environmental reasons. But until I trust myself on the portion control bit, this may be a necessary evil for items like cheese or chips.

            Thanks for your thoughts.

            1. re: sasha1

              That's my rationale for eating the "diet stuff" also. For now, it's a necessary evil. And I have lost 30lbs in the last 4 months. Whatever gets you to your goal, best of luck to you. :)

              1. re: mcel215

                Congrats! I will be thrilled if I do half as well.

              2. re: sasha1

                I ate a lot of processed stuff while I was losing - it really helped me with portion control. while I was losing, the 100 cal packs started coming out and they were HUGE at our WW meetings.
                Now that I'm at goal and the system's changed focus a little, I find it's easier to steer clear of the frozen lunches and packaged snacks. ("free" fruit helps!!!) I cook quite a lot on Sundays, to have lots of leftovers for lunches through the week. Evenings just get so crazy lately that frequently thursdays or fridays are lean cuisine days because we've run out of leftover and haven't been home to cook.

                1. re: sasha1

                  Well, good luck to you.

                  I am not saying you have to eat home-harvested spelt. If you want to eat the chemical stew that is diet jello ... go for it.

                  I am saying to eat the food you always eat rather than going the route of diet food. I personally don't see what the extra effort involved in figuring out the points of real chocolate cake as opposed to taking the effort to whip up diet soda cake... especially if that is a once or twice a week thing.

                  Or how difficult it is to come up with low point meals such as salads or Progresso soup on chocolate cake day.

                  But if that is the way you want to go give it a whirl.

                  When you talk about going cold turkey, it sounds like your approach is that you need to give up things and that was my point. No you don't. I lost the most weight and kept it off for years on a diet that didn't eliminate one food I ate or use diet food. That diet included Haagen Daz (1/2 cup), cupcakes rather than cake because I needed the portion control ... and I bought rather than made those because if I made a whole cake at home ... diet or not ... I was going to eat the whole thing/

                  But I've offered my suggestions within the weight watchers world such as cheese, yogurt and popcorn. Laughing Cow recently came out with some good new flavors such as sun dried tomato. The blue cheese I find better as a spread on roast beef sandwiches, which would be out for you at this time, but it might be good as a filling for celery sticks. Same point value and the celery slows down eating the cheese because you have to chew more.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I've read your replies in other places on ch, and you seem to often have good things to contribute. So I don't want to overlook the good advice in your posts here. But I'm having an issue I guess with the tone coming across in your written word. It really sounds like you're saying that it's your way or the highway, and that my way is wrong while yours is right. That makes it hard to feel good about the actual suggestions you are advancing.

                    Here's the thing. I started the diet 3 days ago. Maybe in a month, my stomach and appetite will have shrunk sufficiently that I can have a real treat now and again. I'm not there yet. A can of soup and a salad is going to make me hungry, cranky, desperate, and likely to overeat in the late part of the day. So if I need to use my points on real food, and have only 3 pts left in the day for the treat that I want, I'm suggesting I'd prefer to use it on a small square of fake cake than not have anything. That's my choice, and it doesn't have to be yours. But by telling me it's all junk and good luck to me if that's my approach, it sound a lot like a diss, which isn't really why I posted in the first place.

                    The problem is not figuring out points. The issue is that 2 squares of cake, one with diet soda and the other the real deal, have a vastly different point count. Both may satisfy the sweet tooth. One will blow the diet and the other won't. I don't really need a lesson where flour plus sugar plus butter is more wholesome than chemical a, b, and c. I personally feel ok with my choice to eat the evil stuff because the rest of my diet is filled with whole foods. This is what I meant by ideals vs idealism. Ideals are great. Idealism doesn't leave any room for reality.

                    1. re: sasha1

                      I'm sorry if you misread my tone. I was trying to be helpful and with my experience try to look at this differently so you won't blow your diet ... or think of it as a diet. Maybe it was more of the frustration of decades of trying to do what you want to do and failing coming through. I mean, I was there when Tab was created. I've tried it all. Everybody has to try their own thing. What works for one person doesn't work for another. It was necessary for me to try thing after thing only to return full circle to that eating plan that worked a few decades ago.

                      I have refrained from general diet tips and addressed that within Weight Watchers. You mention coffee further down. It took me five years to wean off sugar in coffee. Never was able to kick the milk though.

                      That post mentions triggers and for me sweets are triggers.Since posting on Chowhound in 2002 I've looked backed and saw ... yow ... I really frequent bakeries way too much. I've never found satisfaction in substitutes, so I go for quality. If that throw me over a few points or calories or whatever I'm using at the time ... so be it. As Scarlett said "Tommorrow is another day". The point is to get back on the horse.

                      I had a freind would would take a bite of something bad and just put it down. I don't have that self control. If I buy a bad baked good, it's rare I won't finish it.

                    2. re: rworange

                      Roast beef (like Dietz and Watson and Boar's Head) are quite low in points... why out for now???

                  2. re: rworange

                    Just for your info... noboday at Weight Watchers weighs in publicly... They take great pains for it to be just you and the receptionist. There is an anti-humiliation approach.

                  3. The original comment has been removed
                    1. I was very successful with Weight Watchers and I wish you the same. Though I no longer count points I still follow many of the guidelines.

                      A few easy, filling things:

                      • toss garbanzo beans & cauliflower with olive oil, kosher salt, and roast.
                      • corn tortillas are your friend. No more flour ones! :-) Buy some masa flour, they're so easy to make.
                      • keep chicken breasts on hand for quick starters
                      • buy Laughing Cow cheese & part skim string cheese. Both very filling!
                      • ditto rworange on the popcorn. I make it with oil on the stove in a pot.

                      I'll keep trying to think of other food ideas. Good luck!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: UTgal

                        Thank you! I'm going to search for laughing cow in the market next shopping trip. Funny - I am already eating the string cheese because after my kids asked for them for lunchboxes, they've decided they don't like them... Story of our life. I think they're a pretty tasty 2 points.

                        1. re: sasha1

                          If you buy the WW brand string cheese, the smoked flavor is delicious (I will eat anything smoked - cheese, fish, meat, ice cream I don't care!) and 1 string cheese is only 1 Points Plus Value.

                          WW also makes very tasty dark chocolate raspberry ice cream bars. They are 2 PPV each and REALLY good.

                          Arnold's makes a new 100 calorie bread called Pocket Thins. The Italian herb flavor is very good and they are only 3 PPV each. They look like Pita bread, and they are very nice and soft.

                          1. re: StefaniePags

                            Are the products available for purchase to people who haven't signed up for the program?

                            1. re: sasha1

                              sasha, the ww products Stefanie mentioned are available at the grocery store. Dh LOVES the giant latte bars which are like a mocha fudgecicle. there are products for sale at the meetings, I don't believe they ask for your ww book to purchase them, but I find they are overpriced and have acceptable grocery store equivalents.
                              I have not been able to find the WW string cheese at our stores in a while tho - perhaps it wasn't popular enough. Dh prefers the baby bels or a small chunk of full fat cheese, anyway.

                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                Thanks again - I'll look for those along with the laughing cow cheese!