Weight Watchers Is Just Another Diet (Sorry)

weight watchers

If you are counting calories, macros, or points, it’s a diet – Weight Watchers included. Surprised? What do you do if you’re hungry and your points are used up? Are you “on” and “off” the program? How do you feel when you go over your points? Exactly. 

Diet culture is sneaky. The weight loss industry knows you’re catching on to their misbehaving and are trying to move away from overt dieting terms. Weight Watchers even changed its name in 2018, but it’s still a dieting program in every aspect. Here are seven examples why: 

1. Focusing on points pulls you away from being your own nutrition expert surrounding internal signals of hunger and fullness. “Saving” your points for an upcoming birthday bash, denying yourself more food even if your body calls for more, keeping food central to your every day being is NOT good. 

2. Points (like carb counting or macro counting) can become obsessional. Once you are “off” or not doing the WW program, you don’t forget those total points you were “allowed” to have. They follow you and are embedded in your brain, constantly comparing how you are eating now to how you were eating “on weight watchers”, keeping you pseudo dieting even when you’re “not dieting”.

3. WW encourages overeating with their “free” points. Although the intention (I believe) is well intended by encouraging the consumption of as many fruits and veggies as you want, it can also promote eating these foods to numb our feelings, eating these foods to prevent feeling ANY signal of hunger between meals, and keep individuals from actually HAVING what they feel they want and need to feel more satisfied. 

weight watchers

4. It promotes (like all other diets) the concept of “good” and “bad” foods – because we need more of this, right? Low points = “good” for you foods. High points = “bad” for you foods. This only adds more to feeling morally good or bad based on what we eat or don’t eat. 

5. Got points leftover? You can eat beyond your needs because we certainly don’t want to “waste” points. 

6. If a person is hungrier a day beyond what their points allow, they have to suck it up and try to suppress their physical needs, creating a stronger biological and psychological pull towards food which can easily lead to overeating or binge eating. If they do eat beyond their points because they were hungry, it promotes a feeling of guilt or failure – which is just ridiculous! This may lead to cutting points off the next day’s allowance, creating more starvation and stress on the body, further deepening the weakening relationship with food and unhealthy thoughts surrounding food and eating performance. 

7. Before and after pictures are constantly flaunted. The “smaller” after photos of bodies that these photos focus on only feeds into the diet culture and the Dieter’s Dilemma which starts with the desire to be thin. 

weight watchers

I’ve worked with a lot of “Lifetime Weight Watchers” in my time. It’s incredible the diet mentality that gets burned into their minds after years of dieting. So often I am trying to ADD in healthy fats and high quality carbohydrates back into an individual’s diet to help them resolve their unwanted eating behaviors, and for those that have been on the WW program repeatedly, that just is mind boggling, and sometimes frightening because of all the years they were trained to AVOID such foods and food groups. 

Know that you can choose to leave the “Lifetime WW” club. Although that might feel scary, it’s the only way you’ll actually learn when, what, and how much to eat according to YOUR body and needs. Let’s not forget that 95% of all dieters gain the weight back within 1-5 years, and 66% of these dieters regain MORE back than what they lost. The body is smart and doesn’t want you to starve. Don’t fall for another diet, that’s why we are here! Let us help you unlearn some of the dieting mindset and introduce you back to your body who’s had the answers ALL along about when, what, and how much to eat! Check out our various coaching programs here

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Tribole & Resch (2020). Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Dietary Approach. (pg 82-83).