A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday – Beware the “free” foods

on June 11, 2014

In the Weight Watchers system, some foods have zero points assigned to them. Most of those foods are things like fruits and vegetables, where the nutritional goodness outweighs the calorie burden enough that they’re not counted against your daily total. Ideally, this would encourage you to eat more of them right? Remember, though, that those zero point foods aren’t zero calories and could cause you a problem over time.

–          We’ve talked a lot about my love of fruit and fruit is technically zero points in the Weight Watchers system. I love that and have used that to my advantage when I’m hungry and facing snack choices – fruit and veggies being zero point helps them win out a lot! However, those fruits and veggies aren’t calorie free so be careful. If you log 2 cups of grapes in your WW tracker, it’ll track as zero. If you put the same 2 cups of grapes in the recipe builder, where is doesn’t see the “zero point” foods and only looks at calories, macronutrients, etc, those 2 cups of grapes are 6 points!

–          A small splash of coffee creamer (or milk or half and half or whatever you put in your coffee) is zero points. If you drink several cups of coffee a day, that splash you don’t count because it is free could add up to a couple of points.

coffee

–          One Laughing Cow Light Swiss wedge is 1 point. Two Laughing Cow Light Swiss wedges? Also 1 point, so the second one is free. The second has about 20-30 calories, but because of rounding involved in point calculations, it doesn’t cost you any more points.

–          Fat free salsa is free, no matter how much you eat. A) Not zero calorie; B) Be careful of the sodium!

–          2 tbsp of fat free Greek yogurt is free, whereas sour cream is not. Thus, I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on quesadillas, tacos, etc. I also like to mix 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt with salsa to make a dip for veggies. Yummy!

Salsa-Greek Yogurt veggie dip–          1 egg white is free. Oliver and I like to share an egg at Jason’s Deli. He likes the yolks but not the whites, so he gets the yolk and I get the white for my salad. *Note: Only true for 1 egg white – above that and it costs points.

–          1 tbsp Smart Balance light is also free (newly discovered this one).

Any of these things can be fine in moderation. The important thing is to A) remember that zero point does not mean zero calorie, so you probably shouldn’t be using all of these little cheats at every meal every day, even if the system would allow it and B) pay attention to how things affect you. I was able to get away with huge amounts of fruit for a long time, but once I started having trouble maintaining, I knew that “zero point” chunk of my tracker in fact represented a huge chunk of calories. If you’re having trouble losing like you want and you’re using a lot of zero point things, you may need to spot check with something like MyFitnessPal or another calorie tracker to see how many calories you’re actually taking and where you need to make changes. Those changes may not actually need to be in the “free” foods – after all lots of them are very healthy and should be part of your diet – but you may need to make adjustments. For me, right now that means any fruit eaten after dinner is tracked as a recipe in the WW system so it costs me points, not as a free food. For others, it may mean looking honestly at how much coffee creamer they’re using or whatever other “free” food you’re using a lot of. Or best of all, you can use all of things without any problems whatsoever! I definitely had no issues with this until I cut back on my running a few months ago, so I know how very situation specific it can be. It’s another instance in which tracking well can help you identify patterns in how your food affects you.

What are your favorite “free” foods?

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10 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday – Beware the “free” foods

  1. “Free” foods in my opinion should really only be veggies or true zero calorie items. Ever since WW introduced this new system I’ve had a problem with it. Some people don’t have that knowledge of food yet and do whatever their current diet is telling them to do, and if it’s a free food then they probably think they can eat however much they want. I feel as though it’s important to build a base of knowledge so they can realize that eating too many free foods can severely affect weight loss goals.

    • A lot of people struggled with the switch to free fruit because it adds up so quickly! Honestly, if I wasn’t so used to WW now I’d switch over to something like My Fitness Pal for more purely calorie tracking (or not track at all if I’m training for a race and my weight is stable).

  2. Shelly says:

    I’ve never used WW but I never really understood the “free” foods. Unless it’s 0 cals, it’s not free. Great reminders!

    • I definitely loved having so many “free” foods when I was starting – it was a huge part of what kept me from feeling deprived. I’m not sure that “free” really works in maintenance, though, or if you only have a small amount to lose.

  3. Kristin says:

    Hope you’re having a great day!!! XOXO!! Happy Wednesday!!

  4. Mama Ames says:

    This is really great advice. I remember an article I read once about 0 + 0 = 3. Basically, what you said, that it all adds up. I appreciate the reminder!

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