I get a few questions per week regarding weight watchers points stuff. Some of them I don’t know and couldn’t easily find on google ("how many points do I add to each day if I’m pregnant?", to which my answer was "First ask your doctor if you should (still) be on the diet when pregnant!"), but some I know.

Here’s one from today, mainly because I want to just point to blog posts (like I do for work stuff) rather than continuing to answer the same questions π

Note that in this instance, I didn’t exactly answer the initial question, but I answered the question I thought she should be asking π

Q:

A friend of mine is in the Weight Watchers program, and for fun I was adding up my points for the day to see if my calorie counting was less or as productive as points.

Last night for dinner I had 2.5 servings of mac’n’cheese. Now from what I understood of the calculating process you count things out separately so I calculated it by each serving. My friend said that I should have counted it all together. But if I were to eat 2.5 servings *throughout* the day, then I would count each serving separately. I don’t understand how this doesn’t come out to the same thing. I mean 2.5 servings should be 2.5 servings regardless. So if I eat it throughout the day should I add all the servings together, or when I eat it all at once should I separate it?

If I should separate it when I eat it at different times, and add it together when I eat it at once, why? What is the reasoning behind doing it sometimes and not others?

A:

This is an ongoing point of turmoil and confusion, unfortunately. You’re absolutely right, 2.5 servings should be the same regardless.

There’s a good amount of foods that are, for instance, 0.4 points per serving, but it rounds down to 0, so some people end up eating many of those servings and still counting it as 0.

IMHO the easiest way around it is, while unfortunately a little more complicated, more fool-proof regarding the rounding – keep the points to one decimal place throughout the day. This is one of the main reasons that my own points calculator site gives you both the exact and rounded points, so you can decide for yourself which to use.

If you take this kind of approach, the 2.5 servings should be the same number of "whole" points regardless of whether you count is as 1 lump sum or 5 portions. Let’s say it’s (random guess) 0.8 points per serving. If you ate 5 portions of 1/2 serving each, then that would be 5 * 0 (since the 0.4 would round down to 0), making it a total of 0. Or 2.5 times 1 (0.8 rounded up), for a total of 2.5 (which would round to 3). However, if you counted it to a decimal place, then 5 parts is 5 * 0.4 = 2.0 and 2.5 parts is 2.5 * 0.8 = 2.0 and 1 part is 1 * 2.0 = 2.0 – all are the same value, regardless of how you break it up.

Admittedly, this is picking a point value that is exactly 1 decimal place (0.8), and you could get the same kind of issue with something that’s 0.85, but then your rounding error makes you off by ~0.1, so the total points for the day isn’t affected.

Hope this makes sense – since there’s a good chance it doesn’t (the above is very stream-of-consciousness), just ping me back and I’ll try to rephrase it with a bit more clarity π

One place this does NOT work is if the food in question has four grams of fiber or more per serving. Then it does not add up, even if you go by decimal points. For example, soup that has 60 calories, 0 g. fat, and 4 g. fiber is .4 points per cup. But if you eat 2 cups of it and calculate them together, it doesn’t equal .8 points because the fiber is capped at 4. It comes to 1.6 points.

So when you are eating fiber rich foods, how do you know when to count them by individual servings and when to count them together?? This is a problem with pretty much ALL of the foods I eat and my main reason for not switching over to the Point system. Right now I’m just counting calories.