Tweaking Meals – Dining Out Version

One of the greatest things about this weightloss journey that Jason and I are on is that we get to inspire those around us, even though we’ve stumbled lately. Recently we’ve had friends and family join Weight Watchers and it’s been very gratifying and encouraging.

We’ve also been working hard at being better at tracking, so the points values of different foods has been very much on my mind, just like it was back when we started losing weight with Weight Watchers. In the same day, I was asked both for suggestions of low point meals as well as something higher point to burn the extra points at the end of the day. This idea of a post has been on my mind for a while and I think those conversations helped pull the trigger.

Daily Points and How They Vary by Person

For those of you not on Weight Watchers, I’ll keep this short. Jason is the more technical writer, so I’ll leave it up to him if he wants to go into more detail in another post.

Points for food are calculated using fat, fiber, carbohydrates and protein, with foods higher in fiber and protein being lower in points value than those higher in fat and carbohydrates. Everybody has a daily points target. This is a number that tells you how many points you should have each day in order for your body to function properly and still lose weight. Someone who weighs more actually needs more calories for proper body function than someone who is smaller. For that reason, Weight Watchers Daily Points targets are largely based on someone’s weight and height. Other variables that affect the Daily Points target are age and gender.

A new addition to the way Daily Points values are determined is the ability for each person to modify theirs by up to three points either up or down. If you’re not getting the results you want, you can talk to your leader (or decide on your own, but try not to yo-yo the numbers) to tweak your target to a number that better suits your body and your weight loss goals.

Basically, many of us have different numbers we’re trying to reach each day, so my number isn’t the same as Jason’s and his isn’t the same as yours. Just keep in mind that the target is a goal, not a limit. It’s best not to under-eat by very many points and if you go over, you need to make sure you have activity points or weekly points that can cover it.

What We’ve Learned

After being on the plan for nearly 18 months, Jason and I have learned a lot about food choices. Even though our points targets have decreased there’s usually about a 20 points spread between our targets. Jason has more for three reasons: he started at a higher weight; he’s a guy; I robbed the cradle (younger = more points). Jason has been pretty good about snacking more when I’m not around so he can hit his target without making me feel like I’m missing out.

I’ve also learned how to tweak many of my go-to meals to fit whatever my day holds for me. I know how to adjust many of them to either use fewer points, or burn a few extra to get closer to my target. And that’s what this post is about. Here are some of my favorite meals with Weight Watchers Points Plus values and ideas on how to tweak them to meet your target, whatever it may be. I’m going to give you examples of the meals I eat right now (14-16 pp each) and how to modify either down (10pp or less) for those with lower targets or not much to spend at the end of the day, as well as modifying up (18-20 pp) for meals to get closer to your target without going way over.

Jason and I both work full-time and since we also don’t have kids, it’s often easier to grab something to eat while we’re out. Here are some of my not-made-at-home favorites:

Subway Melt 6″ Sandwich w/Sunchips (16pp)

My usual sandwich at Subway is the Subway Melt, which is ham, turkey and bacon w/cheese toasted. I get it on whole wheat bread, add veggies, light mayo and a little S&P. (Beware the other bread choices especially the ones with cheese; even the 9-Grain Oat adds 1pp) Here are some choices you can make to lighten up the meal as much as 9pp, for a 7pp healthy bite:

  • -5pp  Drop the chips. They’re great if you need a new more points, but the 6″ sub is satisfying by itself.
  • -3pp  Go for a regular ham & turkey by dropping the cheese (-2pp) and the bacon (-1pp).
  • -1pp  Skip the light mayo. One point may not seem like much, but if you don’t have it, best not to use it.

Now, if you have a few more points you want to burn, here’s some ideas to bulk it up without going overboard:

  • +1pp  Swap the chips for a cookie (6pp each) to satisfy that sweet tooth.
  • +7pp  Make it two cookies! Save this option for the day you really have a lot to burn or just really need the sweet treat and have the weekly or activity points to cover it.

Chinese Chicken Broccoli w/Eggroll & Fortune Cookie (14pp)

If you’re following us on twitter, you’ll see that we do this one a lot and I’m always recommending it. I just can’t be glad enough that we switched from Chinese buffet to ordering off the menu. Fresher food and so much easier to control what you are going to eat. My meal includes 2-1/2 cups of chicken broccoli, 1/4 cup of rice, an eggroll and a fortune cookie. I love this meal simply because it is such a filling, low point option. Here’s how to lighten it up:

  • -4pp  Ditch the eggroll.
  • -1pp  Read the fortune, skip the cookie.
  • -1PP  No rice, please. They won’t mind not bringing it out. Restaurants don’t like plates looking empty though, so re-evaluate how much you have on yours.

Since this is such a low point base (only 3pp per cup of chicken broccoli), it’s a little trickier to bulk up, but here are some ideas:

  • +3pp  Choose beef instead. This is what Jason does to increase the number of points he uses on the meal.
  • +2pp  Have a half cup of steamed rice instead, or make it a full cup for +4pp
  • +1PP  Have 1/4 fried rice. Just be careful increasing this one. +4pp for 1/2 cup and +9pp for a full cup. Again, this is an option Jason uses to bulk up his points.


I was going to include ideas for meals at home in this post, but I think that may need to wait, since this is already a longish post (for me). What are some of your favorite things to eat out and how do you tweak them?



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Tackling Breakfast « The Chubby Couple

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