Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vegan Weight Watchers

Sometimes I'm fatter than I'd like to be. At the beginning of the year I hit a personal body weight record. The weight was not from muscle or bowlingballism, it was from fat. I was able to take most of it off in a few months by employing a radical technique called "exercise." Then I got hurt but kept eating like I was exercising, and I now my mass is trending upward again. It's time to turn another radical technique called "eating less."

I first tried Weight Watchers online a few months after quitting smoking a long time ago. It worked really well. If you're not familiar with the program, it employs a formula that ascribes points to everything you ingest. The inputs are calories, grams of fat, grams of sugar, and grams of fiber. The output is a number that you subtract from your daily allowance. Most vegetables are "free," in that they almost always calculate to 0 points in reasonable portions. Foods like ice cream and pizza are very expensive. Eat too many points today? You can earn a few back by taking a long, brisk walk.

I like this system because if you eat a lot of vegetables (or, in my case, force yourself to choke down a lot of vegetables), you don't have do any data entry, because they're "free." When you do eat something processed, there's a very good chance it's already in the Weight Watchers food database and easy to select. Even tons of vegan brands. Worst case scenario, you input the basic stats from the ingredient label and it will calculate the food's points for you. You can then save it into your own database of favorites for easy selection later. In short, it's a super low maintenance system compared to conventional calorie counting.  Want a snack? look at your app. 5 points left? Have a spoon full of sand and a sprig of mint.

I've turned to Weight Watchers a few times since the first time, and each time they tweak their program a little more. Until recently, one aspect of their online program was that their web site sucked. It sucked really bad for over a decade.  When Adobe recently announced that Flash was going to be killed with fire, Weight Watchers finally produced a usable site using sane technology and reasonable user experience principles. I'm too traumatized by past experience to say that using the new site (and app!) is "a pleasure," but it's not constant hell anymore.

But I wonder if the latest version of their formula is buggy. Consider this photograph of a Lara Bar (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) and a Peet's Vegan Low Fat Apricot Scone. The Lara Bar is 9 points according to Weight Watchers, nearly a third of my daily point budget. I'm shocked by that. It's merely dates and cashews and a few chocolate chips. If a Lara Bar is 9 points, how much could that floury scone sprinkled with sugar be? Ready? 10. One more point than a Lara Bar. Maybe I'm weird but I expected the scone to be much more expensive. It certainly tastes more expensive.

For scale, compare the points one would spend to eat 1,000 bananas: zero. The rest of my blog will be about eating scones and bananas.


  1. That means a Lara Bar is basically the equivalent of a meal?! I'm looking forward to all the bananas and scones (that looks amazing, by the way.Is it from a bakery or packaged?)

    1. The scone is from Peet's Coffee. They do get them from a bakery, but they're produced in mass quantities.

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