As I’ve written on this blog previously, I believe the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (these day marketed under the name “Momentum”) is the most wonderful food plan I’ve ever followed — bar none.  It may not work for you, but it IS the food plan for me.

While I could go on and on about what I like about the WW food plan, the balance of this journal entry will focus on what I do NOT like about the organization/business behind the food plan. Please note that NONE of the concerns I’m about to share are keeping me from attending WW meetings or are giving me an excuse to not eat sanely with the guidance of the organization’s food plan.  These are issues that simply irritate me about WW.  Hopefully I’d rather write about these things instead of using them as an excuse to abandon my recovery effort.

These are the issues that bother me the most about Weight Watchers…

Nutritional Hypocrisy/Inconsistency. In the current version of WW program literature, including the literature pertaining to the WW food plan, time and again members are directed to choose  “filling foods” — including whole grains.  Yet NONE of the Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) frozen food items that I’ve purchased contain whole grains!  Every single item that contains grains of any sort contain bleached flour, which is less filling and far less nutritious than the whole grain alternative.  If you have found a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) item t hat includes whole grains, please let me know so I can purchase such an item!

True, whole grains cost more than bleached flour. So is this a matter of WW trying to maximize profit by including cheap ingredients, thus minimizing nutritional quality?  If so, I say SHAME on Weight Watchers!

I want to acknowledge the folks who produce Healthy Choice frozen food for finally including whole grains in some of their products.  If Healthy Choice can afford to make this change, then so can Weight Watchers!

Some Weight Watchers foods are barely healthier than junk foods. Apart from the WW Smart Ones (TM) foods that you can buy at the grocery store, WW sells several food items — NOT labeled as “Smart Ones” (TM) — at their meeting locations.  Yes, many of these foods that carry the Weight Watchers name do contain lots of vitamins and minerals.  This is a good thing.  The bad thing is that many/most of them also contain high levels of refined sugar, making them slightly healthier than their junk food counterpart.

An example of a WW food item that must be loaded with refined sugar is their Smoothies.  I just love the taste of their Creamy Chocolate flavored Smoothie.  Yet I was horrified to learn a month ago that this item (made with water, instead of milk) caused my blood sugar to go sky high (310) and remain extremely high (over 250) for nearly four hours!  Being a diabetic food addict, this IS a cause for concern! 3 Musketeers candy bars don’t cause my sugar to go that high!

I found out about the impact of the WW Smoothie on my blood sugar as the result of being tested by a Continuous Glucose Monitor, a device that checked my blood sugar every five minutes for nearly 96 hours.  The only major spike in my sugar level came immediately after drinking the WW Creamy Chocolate Smoothie, which I made with water.  (NOTE: When wearing one of these monitors, you write down what you had to eat and when you ate it, so blood sugar levels can be traced to what one had to eat at a particular time.)

While I’m NOT a “carbohydrate phobic”, as a diabetic it is wisest for me to severely limit my intake of refined sugar.  So I’m not looking for a fight to pick with WW, this IS a legitimate medical issue: WW food needs to be more nutritious, especially for diabetics!

Anti-Male Sexism.  While I salute WW for offering their “Weight Watchers for Men” material through the paid side of their corporate website (Yes: WW has FINALLY acknowledged that men exist and that we have unique needs!…and it only took ’em nearly 40 years to figure this out!), they are still marketing themselves almost exclusively to WOmen…even when it comes to printed material they are sending to their current members.

Evidence of WW sexism came in the form of an item they mailed to me both this past spring and again during the summer months.  Arriving with my monthly membership pass, the Meeting Ideas Card seemed to offer an excellent way to reinforce positive ideas taught at WW meetings: members are asked to write down the “best idea” they heard at a particular meeting for four consecutive weeks.  At the end of the fourth meeting members turn in their Meeting Ideas Card to WW staff and in exchange are sent a coupon for a 30% discount from Chadwicks. I’d never heard of Chadwicks (www.chadwicks.com). No wonder: Chadwicks sells ONLY WOmen’s clothing!  I would think a coupon for a men’s clothing store would be MUCH more appropriate for me…unless I’m a drag queen!?!

Another WW member actually suggested that I shouldn’t register a complaint about this matter, but should instead give my coupon to my wife (sorry, I’m gay — I don’t do drag, but I’m gay) or to my girlfriend (again: sorry, but I’m gay) or to a “female friend”.  Hmmm.  If WW were offering a 30% off coupon to say Casual Male XL (a big/tall men’s clothing store), I wonder how this female WW member would feel about giving her coupon to her husband, boyfriend or a “male friend”.  She would probably — and understandably — feel slighted.

Toxic Slogans. I recently discovered on the back of a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) food package the following slogan…

“Smart Ones.  Taste so good, you want to be good.”

Don’t get me started!  I’m NOT a “dieter” anymore and dieting mentality does NOT cut it with me!  WW material clearly (and repeatedly) puts down everything to do with dieting (Their slogan “Stop Dieting. Start Living.” is but one example of how WW bashes diets), yet their marketing slogan cited above is a textbook example of the self-defeating way dieters think!

I am NOT a”good person” at ONLY those times when I follow my food plan.  Rather I follow my food plan (i.e., which allows me to eat healthy) BECAUSE I”M ALREADY A GOOD PERSON who is DESERVING to eat in a healthy manner.  And when dieters (like I used to be) don’t “eat perfect” we often feel guilty…we feel like we are “bad” and such feelings/thought almost always lead us to act out with even more unhealthy eating behavior.  Thankfully my “goodness” and my “badness” (indeed my self-esteem) are NO LONGER dependent on what food (or how much food) I’m eating, let alone dependent on the number on the scale!

So I plead with WW to knock off the manipulative, self-defeating slogans that promote the thinking that all too often leads to self-sabotage!

Cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Once WW became listed on the stock market several years ago, I almost immediately noticed a decrease in the quality of the the program materials they print.  Two-color Membership Cards became one color.  Their booklets became smaller, which caused the print inside those booklets to became smaller.  Their recipe cards are no longer printed for distribution at meetings — but you can download them and print them (with your paper and your ink) from their website.  You get the picture.

Well WW latest act of cost cutting was do away with name tags at meetings!  Good grief, what do these cost?  One or two cents?  Please!

The name tags help facilitate discussion between the meeting leader and members during meetings and between members before and after meetings. Sure, discontinuing the use of name tags is a small thing.  But a disturbing thing to me as I see WW continue to offer less and less to their members — yet the cost of WW membership has not declined.

I’m not going to drop my WW membership because of the issues I’ve cited here.  I just needed to vent about them, rather than overeat over them. Not that we addicts ever needed an excuse to overeat.  😀