Whether you're relatively new to Weight Watchers, or a Gold Member who's fallen into bad habits, there will inevitably come a time when you've not quite planned your day correctly and you find yourself starving and desperate for a snack you simply don't have the points for. We've all been there, and sometimes you just have to eat the cereal bar, learn your lesson, and vow to do better tomorrow. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you never feel hungry again. From one Weight Watcher to another, these tips will help to make your journey a bit easier in future.
1. Spread Out Your Weekly Smart Points
If you find you're always desperate for slightly larger portions, consider how you use your weekly points. A lot of us store them up for a treat or night out at the weekend, but you may be better off spreading them out over the week to allow you to bump up the portions of protein or carbohydrate in your meals. If you do this, you'll also find you have more days within the overall tracking zone ("blue dot" days on the app — usually within 3 to 7 points of your daily allowance) which is an extra bonus!
2. Share Points Out Equally Between Meals
The whole "three square meals a day" idea doesn't work for everyone, and people succeed on Weight Watchers following all kinds of different daily points schedules. If the results keep on coming and you're happy, there's probably no reason to change things. But if you're finding the hunger pangs intolerable, consider whether you're fuelling your day in the best way. There is a lot of research to suggest that breakfast is key when it comes to weight loss, so maybe that hastily grabbed fruit isn't the best morning choice? Try a protein-rich breakfast instead (if you don't have time to cook on workdays, try prepping some egg muffin cups in advance). Equally, you may be contributing to your hunger in the afternoon by saving all your points for a stodgy meal you don't sit down to eat until 9 p.m. Try to eat earlier if you possibly can, or aim for a bigger lunch and a lighter dinner. Not everyone has the flexibility to choose when and what to eat, but if your lifestyle allows, try to spread your points equally across the day, so you never feel too hungry or too full.
3. Find New Ways to Cook Vegetables
Obviously the best way to satiate yourself whilst following the Weight Watchers plan is to eat, and thanks to the vast number of free foods, you can do that even if you've used up your daily points allowance. Vegetables should make up a significant part of each meal, but it's easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same vegetables over and over again. If you're not willing or able to try new veggies, then it's time to start experimenting with ways of making the ones you do like (or have access to) seem a bit more exciting. If you usually steam something, try roasting it: this works with so many vegetables. Go big on added flavours: garlic, root ginger, chilli, herbs, and small amounts of most spices and seasonings are free foods too. I love pak choi stir-fried in a wok with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red chilli. Broccoli is like a whole other vegetable when you roast it in the oven with a little frylight and a liberal sprinkling of chilli flakes. Chop cauliflower up into small florets or slices and add turmeric, cumin, and garam masala before roasting in a medium oven for about 30 minutes for the most amazing side dish for curries (with none of the points of rice). Oh, and roasted kale with sea salt and pepper is the closest you're going to get to crisps without wiping out half a day's points.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
You know it, I know it, the whole planet knows it. But how many of us really drink as much water as we're supposed to? Coffee, tea, and Diet Coke don't count (though you may just be able to justify that sugar-free squash if you're really against good old H2O). It's easy to mistake thirst for hunger, so making sure you're fully hydrated will help keep those pangs at bay. Also, many people believe drinking a glass of water before a meal will stop you from overdoing it when you eat.
5. Choose Where You "Spend" Your Points Wisely
Yeah, a Cadbury Creme Egg tastes great and gives you an instant energy boost, but for the same number of points you could have five actual eggs. Three guesses which will keep you feeling fuller for longer! The joy of the Weight Watchers plan is the flexibility that's built in to allow you to eat a variety of foods, but if you're struggling with hunger issues, you probably need to add more protein (or slow-release carbs like whole grains) to your meals, and the easiest way to do that is to reduce your points use elsewhere. Sugar should be the first thing to go. If you want a sweet hit, have some fruit. It may not be quite as indulgent, but it's sweet, it's nutritious, it'll fill you up, and it's zero points!
6. When All Else Fails, Lean On Those Fit Points
Weight Watchers strongly encourages members to consider exercise as an added extra that can boost weight loss, rather than something you do to "earn" extra points to eat or drink more. However, you can choose to swap your points if you wish, and if you find yourself ravenous after a big workout, there's nothing to stop you trading those hard-earned fit points for an extra chicken breast or 30g of pasta. Beware the kind of fit points you swap, though. If you've synced your Fitbit to the app, for example, you may find you earn loads of fit points just by walking as you would in a normal day. Trading all of those in for food may result in a weight-loss plateau, and that's exactly why Weight Watchers is encouraging people to set fitness goals completely separately to food intake. Only swap points as a last resort!