Last week I took a day off work and hopped on the direct train from Lincoln to London to make use of my invitation to a blogger event hosted by Weight Watchers.
Apart from discovering what I think is now my favourite café in London – Drink Shop Do just round the corner from Kings Cross – the event was to introduce me and the other bloggers to Weight Watchers new approach to Pro Points.
As part of the event we were treated to a vast array of loveliness which was in fact the earliest afternoon tea I’ve ever had. Tea, juices, water, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, sweets, and yes there was some raw carrot for good measure too. I don’t think I was the only person who wondered if the whole spread was some sort of test… well in fact it was and it wasn’t – it was a demonstration of how it’s easy to eat way too much than we need, but it was also a genuine offering that we tucked into happily. What a delightful place, and what an interesting event.
There is now a body of science that suggests that today’s overloaded food environment is one of the most important reasons why we tend to overeat. It turns out it’s not always our failing will power, but that things around us are sabotaging our good intentions and leaving us with little chance of success. The problem is that we live in a toxic environment where our ability to regulate hunger is constantly challenged – food permeates every aspect of our daily lives.
Penny Haslam (you may have seen her on telly) explained that we are continually making choices, subconsciously, about what we eat and how much. For example, our portion control (something I know I struggle with) may not be down to the size of our appetites, but actually the size of our plates. If we fill our plate we will eat what’s on it, even if we are way over full by the end – we’ve been brought up to finish the food we are given, it’s polite, we don’t want to waste it, we’ve spent our money on it, etc.
The Weight Watchers new approach takes all this into account, aiming to put you in control of your surroundings, translating the science of hedonics into the already popular weight loss programme.
Hedonic hunger is the idea that our exposure to food makes us hungry. It looks good, smells good, our brain says we need it. How many times have you said you are full but still ordered desert? It goes in a different hole right?!
I found all this very interesting, and it does make sense. My food decisions are based on see it, want it, eat it – from the good stuff to the really bad stuff. In order to lose weight and be healthy we have to find ways to work out when we are hungry and when we are actually not, and when it’s ok to indulge a little against when we should be good.
In order to help us do that Weight Watchers have introduced some new tools on their website and on their iPhone app – Tracking, Places and Routines. It’s not about going without, but teaching us to make our decisions consciously, and not just giving into the hedonic hunger that easily leads to over eating.
Over the next few months I will be testing all this out as one of Weight Watchers New Year bloggers. It should be very interesting, and another experiment in weight loss. Earlier today I signed up online and downloaded the iPhone app and started tracking my food and drink for the day. By 3pm I had already maxed out on my Pro Points Budget for the day – that cheese sandwich and two mince pies I had at lunch time ruined that. Why did I have the second one? Because it was there and the first one tasted so good!
So here goes. The idea is that I follow the Weight Watchers Pro Points system from 1st January, so between now and Christmas I will be getting used to how it works and learning about the science and what my “oh go on then” foods are (there’s another blog post in that sometime soon). I will be sharing even more food photos than normal (without meaning to add to your toxic environment!) and will be taking part in weekly blogger challenges which sound like fun. We were sent on our way from the event with a Santa sack full of Weight Watchers goodies to get us started.
In the meantime, please feel free to comment on the new approach, or with any helpful hints and suggestions you have for a newbie to the Weight Watchers Pro Points system.