Lunch Options For Weight Watchers & Its Recipes

About Weight Watchers:

Weight Watchers, commonly abbreviated to just WW, is a very popular weight loss program in the world. Millions of people have joined this diet program hoping to lose weight. In fact, Weight Watchers had over 600,000 new subscribers in 2017 alone. Not just ordinary people, but even celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have said they successfully lost weight after following the Weight Watchers program. Weight Watchers is also one of the oldest weight loss programs in the world, founded in 1963 by Jean Nidetch in New York. What began as a weight loss group amongst friends has, over the years, transformed into one of the most popular diet plans in the world. In the initial days, Weight Watchers used an exchange system for counting the servings. In the 90s, it started using a points-based system, assigning various values to different foods and drinks based on the caloric, fiber, and fat content of the item.1

This point-based system has been revamped several times since then, most recently in 2015, when Weight Watchers launched the Smart Points system. This Smart Points system works by assigning different points to foods based on their calorie, protein, sugar, and fat contents. When a dieter begins the program, they are allotted a set amount of daily Smart Points that is determined from their personal data like age, gender, height, and goals for weight loss.2

No food is off-limits in the Weight Watchers program, but dieters need to remain below the set daily points if they want to reach their desired weight. When you have healthier foods, they are lower in points, while unhealthy foods like chips, soda, and candy consume more points.

It is important to understand the Smart Points system of Weight Watchers in order to follow the program properly. For example, having 230 calories of yogurt with granola and blueberries consists of just 2 Smart Points, while a 230-calorie glazed donut will cost you 10 SmartPoints.3

In 2017, Weight Watchers again revised its Smart Points program to make it more user-friendly and flexible. This new system is now known as Weight Watchers Freestyle and is based on the Smart Points system itself. The latest addition to the WW Freestyle system is that it now includes over 200 foods that have a rating of zero points, thus making the system more user-friendly.

Some of the zero-points foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Skinless chicken
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Non-fat plain yogurt
  • And many other low-calorie but high-protein foods.

Including zero-point foods has made it much easier for people following the Weight Watchers program as these foods do not need to be weighed, tracked, or measured in any way, thus granting more freedom to people when they are planning their snacks and meals.4

This new Weight Watchers Freestyle program is designed to encourage dieters to eat healthier instead of planning their meal around how many points they have been allotted. Here are some healthy lunch options for people following the Weight Watchers’ diet program.

Weight Watchers Food Guide For Lunch

Before you start planning healthy recipes for lunch that helps you lose weight while following the Weight Watchers program, it is essential to understand the Weight Watchers point system. The Weight Watchers Smart Points system focuses on unprocessed, whole foods such as vegetables and fruits, as well as lean proteins. No foods are restricted on the WW diet program. You can choose to have any food you want, though healthy food choices are encouraged. The only requirement is that you need to stay under the daily Smart Points allotment. It is best to stick to foods that are low in saturated fats and sugar and high in protein. Some foods that should be avoided include:5

  • Potato chips
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Processed meats
  • Sugary drinks

Nevertheless, according to the program, no foods are off-limits, and members can continue to snack on their favorite foods and desserts when they want, as long as they remain within the allotted Smart Points.

Some people who struggle with self-control find it challenging to follow the point-based system. Here is an overview of the food recommendations given by Weight Watchers:

  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, nuts, avocado
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Asparagus, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli
  • Lean Proteins: Eggs, skinless chicken, tofu, shellfish, non-fat yogurt, fish
  • Healthy carbohydrates: Brown rice, whole-grain products, oatmeal, beans, sweet potatoes

Healthy Lunch Recipes To Try While On Weight Watchers:

Here are some healthy lunch recipes to try while on Weight Watchers.

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts

The Weight Watchers chicken salad recipe is different from your conventional chicken salad recipe. This salad includes sweet grapes and crunchy nuts, along with three different types of vegetables. Here are the ingredients you need to make this tangy chicken salad:

  • 1/4 cup Plain Fat-free yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Fat-free Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ginger Root
  • 6 oz. Cooked Roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 2 Medium, Chopped Uncooked Scallions
  • 1/4 cup Red, Seedless, Quartered Grapes
  • 1/4 Cup Uncooked, Chopped Celery
  • 1/4 Cup Grated, Uncooked Carrot
  • 2 Tablespoon Chopped Walnuts

Here’s how to make this chicken salad:

  • Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir till the chicken is adequately coated with the mixture.
  • Add the grapes, celery, scallions, carrots, and walnuts. Gently stir to mix everything well. Chill until ready to serve.

You can use any leftover chicken for this recipe, and it is possible to keep the salad in the refrigerator for two to three days. So you can make it ahead and take for lunch whenever you want. The combination of various fresh vegetables, grapes, and walnuts make this a healthy and wholesome lunch option.6

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

This vegetarian recipe is ideal for being a standalone dish, or you can add some brown rice or whole-wheat couscous to make it more substantial.

Here’s everything you need to make this lunch dish:

  • 2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 oz., undrained, packed in their own juice canned diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans, rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 10 oz. baby spinach (fresh)
  • 2 small, chopped uncooked onions
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 medium minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Here’s how to make chickpea and spinach stew:

  • Heat up olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and salt. Let it cook while stirring frequently. In about 10 minutes, it should have softened.
  • Stir in the cumin, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juice.
  • Put the chickpeas in and stir to mix everything.
  • Mash the chickpeas slightly with a potato masher
  • Use tongs to toss in the spinach and sprinkle some water. Cover the pan and cook until the spinach becomes wilted. Keep stirring the mixture once in a while.
  • Stir in lemon juice, cilantro, and more salt if needed.

Instead of plain diced tomatoes, you can also mix it up by using a variety of canned tomatoes or bell pepper, onion, and add in roasted garlic, crushed red pepper if you want to add a bit of spice to the stew.

Chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, both of which help in weight loss. Fiber helps keep you feeling full for a longer time, while protein satiates hunger. The fiber present in chickpeas is also great for your digestive system.7

Lemon and Pepper Tuna Sandwich

This healthy lunch recipe not only packs in a punch of flavor but takes just 15 minutes to make. You can either have it as a sandwich or have it as tuna salad over arugula or other vegetables. Here are the ingredients you need to prepare this sandwich:

  • 6 oz. water-packed tuna fish (drained)
  • 1 medium, minced, uncooked shallot
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1/2 small, grated raw carrots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon, or as per your taste, lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon low-calorie mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Steps to make a lemon and pepper tuna sandwich:

  • In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the arugula and bread.
  • Layer 2 slices of bread with 1/4 cup arugula and 1/2 cup of the tuna salad. Top it with the remaining pieces and serve.

Tuna is a lean fish with very little fat. It is a popular food amongst bodybuilders, and fitness experts as tuna help keep your protein intake high, and total fat and calorie intake low. Tuna packed in water is a better and healthier option to have to keep the focus on your protein intake.8

Sesame Noodle Salad with Peanuts and Chicken

Here are the ingredients you need to make this healthy lunch recipe:

  • 1 cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti (chilled or at room temperature)
  • 2 oz. shredded, skinless original seasoning rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup chopped, raw red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 10-12 chopped peanuts

This lunch recipe is very simple to make. Here are the steps:

  • Cook the spaghetti and set it aside.
  • Mix together the soy sauce, oil, and lime juice to make a dressing.
  • Combine the chicken, vegetables, and spaghetti in a bowl.
  • Put in the dressing and garnish with peanuts.

Whole-wheat spaghetti is low in calories and high in fiber. It also contains several micronutrients that are missing in refined spaghetti. Whole wheat spaghetti is also more effective in decreasing your appetite and reigning in those cravings.9

Chipotle Lime Avocado, Chickpea, and Tomato Salad

Many people prefer to have a light lunch, and salads are high on the list of all WW lunch meal plans. They figure low on the Smart Points as well, thus meaning you have the freedom to experiment. Here’s an easy to make a salad that you can quickly make in the morning and pack for lunch. Here are the ingredients you need to make the Chipotle Lime Avocado, Chickpea, and Tomato Salad:

  • 1/2 cup quartered tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 medium, diced avocado
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped raw red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh mixed greens
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoon crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • Salt as per taste

Here’s an easy way to make this salad:

  • Mix together the chipotle chili, lime juice, oil, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl.
  • Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, cilantro, avocado, and onion.
  • Toss and serve over the greens.
  • Garnish with the fresco cheese.

Chickpeas and avocados are excellent choices to have for lunch. Avocados are rich in fiber, which help promote weight loss and also boost your metabolic health. Avocados also help reduce your appetite, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and keep your cholesterol levels under control.10

Summing Up

The Weight Watchers program claims to be one of the most flexible ways to lose weight. The Smart Points system of Weight Watchers (WW) helps dieters make healthier food choices. At the same time, it allows members to have their favorite foods, but in a limited quantity. Since Weight Watchers does not forbid any foods, it is a more preferred version of a weight loss diet as compared to others. WW is also an excellent option for people who have dietary restrictions, such as people with food allergies or vegans.

Remember that to follow the Weight Watchers program correctly, you need to keep track of the foods you eat and also track your Smart Points. This can sometimes feel to be tedious and time-consuming, which some people may not like.

However, to maintain your weight in the long term, you must regularly exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. Remember, having a healthy lunch everyday can help you feel active during the day, and also prevents post-lunch drowsiness that many people experience.

Studies have found that Weight Watchers is an effective way of losing weight and also keep it off.11 So if you are searching for a science-backed weight loss program that does not restrict your favorite foods, Weight Watchers can help you maintain your health and also reach your wellness goals.

References:

  1. Dansinger, M.L., Gleason, J.A., Griffith, J.L., Selker, H.P. and Schaefer, E.J., 2005. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. Jama, 293(1), pp.43-53.
  2. Ahern, A.L., Olson, A.D., Aston, L.M. and Jebb, S.A., 2011. Weight Watchers on prescription: an observational study of weight change among adults referred to Weight Watchers by the NHS. BMC Public Health, 11(1), p.434.
  3. Madigan, C.D., Daley, A.J., Lewis, A.L., Jolly, K. and Aveyard, P., 2014. Which weight-loss programmes are as effective as Weight Watchers®?: non-inferiority analysis. British Journal of General Practice, 64(620), pp.e128-e136.
  4. Cobiac, L., Vos, T. and Veerman, L., 2010. Cost‐effectiveness of Weight Watchers and the Lighten Up to a Healthy Lifestyle program.
  5. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 34(3), pp.240-247.
  6. Thomas, J.G., Raynor, H.A., Bond, D.S., Luke, A.K., Cardoso, C.C., Foster, G.D. and Wing, R.R., 2017. Weight loss in weight watchers online with and without an activity tracking device compared to control: a randomized trial. Obesity, 25(6), pp.1014-1021.
  7. Slavin, J.L. and Lloyd, B., 2012. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition, 3(4), pp.506-516.
  8. Wallace, T.C., Murray, R. and Zelman, K.M., 2016. The nutritional value and health benefits of chickpeas and hummus. Nutrients, 8(12), p.766.
  9. Mori, T.A., Bao, D.Q., Burke, V., Puddey, I.B., Watts, G.F. and Beilin, L.J., 1999. Dietary fish as a major component of a weight-loss diet: effect on serum lipids, glucose, and insulin metabolism in overweight hypertensive subjects. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(5), pp.817-825.
  10. Hirawan, R., Ser, W.Y., Arntfield, S.D. and Beta, T., 2010. Antioxidant properties of commercial, regular-and whole-wheat spaghetti. Food Chemistry, 119(1), pp.258-264.
  11. Duarte, P.F., Chaves, M.A., Borges, C.D. and Mendonça, C.R.B., 2016. Avocado: characteristics, health benefits and uses. Ciência Rural, 46(4), pp.747-754.
  12. Tsai, A.G. and Wadden, T.A., 2005. Systematic review: an evaluation of major commercial weight loss programs in the United States. Annals of internal medicine, 142(1), pp.56-66.

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