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This was posted by LOVEOLDSTUFF on the Weekly Points Allowance Tip Exchange board. Several regular posters contributed. Thanks for all your hard work!

Q:  I am interested in learning about Core.  What is it all about?
A:  The Core plan provides an approved foods list with a low caloric density. As long as you eat from the list, you don't have to count points.  You eat only until satisfied, not stuffed.  The Core list contains unprocessed lean meats, healthy oils, nonfat dairy products, beans, veggies, fruits, limited cold cereals, and whole grains like barley & couscous.  Some foods are limited to once per day.  Other foods are not on the Core list because they trigger over eating and have a high abuse potential.  In addition to the Core list, you get 35 points per week to use for non-core foods.
 
Q:  How do I get a copy of the Core List?
A:  The Core list is copyrighted by Weight Watchers.  You can join on-line and get all the information you need to do the program or you can also join a local meeting.  You will get a booklet explaining the program, and the leader will go over the program in detail following your first meeting.  Sometimes someone will post requesting a copy of the Core list and some well meaning reader offers to send it out.  Problem with this is the list is only the beginning of the program.  In order to be successful, you need to understand the hunger scale and why some foods are, or are not core.  Don't try to do the program with only half the information.  You are worth the investment!
 
Q:  Can I eat as much as I want on Core?
A:  You can eat freely from the list of Core foods, but you must learn to stop eating when your physical hunger is satisfied.  WW provides you with a hunger scale to help you judge your level of fulness.  If you continue to eat beyond satisfaction, then you are taking in additional calories that could restrict your weight loss effort.  If you have been a member of WW in the past, then you already have some tools to help you judge correct portion sizes.  Learning to eat just until satisfied is a skill that takes a while to learn. 
 
Q:  How much should I be eating; I don't trust myself to eat until satisfied?
A:  While you are on Core, you will still be following the 8 Healthy Habits, which suggest 5 fruits/veggies per day, 2 or 3 dairy servings and 2 tsp. of healthy oil.  When you are planning your meals, try to choose foods from several food groups, taking a single serving from each group.  If you still feel like eating after your first plate, wait 20 minutes and see if you are still hungry.  If so, take more vegetables and small portions of other foods.  It will take some practice, but you will eventually be able to distinguish your level of satisfaction.  The core foods are naturally filling so you will find yourself eating less and not feeling the need to snack constantly.
 
Q:  If an item is 0 points, is it Core?
A:  A 0 point food that is non-core can be eaten, but just because it is 0 points doesn't make it core.  If the points work out to 0, record it.  If eating multiple 0 point non-core foods in a day, you should start adding a point after the first 2.  (this does not include veggies as they are always 0 points on Flex or Core)

Q:  Is there a limit on starches?
A:  The Core plan limits certain foods to once per day.  To make it easier to understand, you can break the list down into 2 categories: cereals and grains/starches. 
Cereals:  You can have cold cereal, such as puffed wheat, once per day and it must be eaten with a dairy serving.  Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, cream of wheat & grits you can have more than once per day.
Grains:  The Core plan allows you to eat whole grains, such as barley, polenta, bulgur, etc., as listed.  Grains are not limited on Core. 
You are allowed to eat one starchy choice per day from the following: potato/brown rice/whole wheat pasta.  This choice is in addition to the cereal (hot or cold) or grains mentioned above.
 
Q:  Why isn't flavored yogurt core?  Kettle corn?
A:  While some foods seem to fit the core list based on their ingredients, WW has determined that some of these foods have abuse potential.  In the field tests, some folks ate more of these types of food than what was considered a normal serving.  In order to be successful at the scale, you cannot eat any foods to excess.  When you have to mix the fruit & splenda in plain yogurt yourself, it takes more effort and there is less chance you will go make another serving.  Same thing with hot cereal.  Most of the foods on the Core list are not "grab + go" type foods.  Even dry cereal needs to be eaten with milk to reduce the potential for overeating or mindless snacking.
 
Q:  If I make something with all core ingredients, is it core?
A:  NO.  If the final product is not core, such as bread, muffins, cookies, ice-cream, pie, etc., then even if it is made with all core ingredients, it is not Core.  The reason is abuse potential.  Also, baking changes the energy density of the food.
 
Q:  What is energy density and why is it important? 
A:  If you notice, the food on the Core list has a lower energy density or fewer calories per serving than foods not included.  On Core, you will be eating lots of foods that are naturally low in calories so you get large servings, but fewer calories.
 
Q:  Why are some healthy things, such as whole wheat flour, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and bread, not core?
A:  These types of foods have a high energy density and are too calorie dense to be included on the list.  Many people using Core spend some of their WPA's for these types of foods.  That way, you can still include them in your diet, but you are limited to no more than 35 points worth per week.
 
Q:  If I eat a dish that contains both core and non-core foods, how do I count that?
A:  If you know exactly what is in a recipe, you can then determine the non-core foods and what to count toward your WPA allotment. The general rule is to count the entire recipe as non-core if there are 2 or more non-core ingredients, however, we all need to use our own judgment in this.  If we know exactly what those non-core ingredients are, such as a sprinkle of regular cheese and a tsp. of regular sour cream, you may decide to count points just for those items. If you find yourself dissecting the food layer by layer, then you should count points for the entire recipe.  The same holds true for food prepared in a restaurant.  It is hard to know if all, or any of the ingredients are core, so it would be best to count the entire dish.
 
Q:  How do I get started on Core?
A:  Starting & Succeeding on Core:

1) Learn. The first step to starting Core is to understand the program.  If you are reading these FAQs, that is a good beginning.  Read the information provided on the website, or from the booklet provided at your meeting center.
 
2) Shop! Once you understand what foods are allowed on Core, go shopping.  Fill your cupboards with Core foods so meal times are easy.  If you have the foods in your house, you are less tempted to cheat.  Be willing to experiment with new foods, especially grains and vegetables.
 
3) Plan.  Having a daily plan or menu will help you get used to eating Core and help eliminate last minute bad choices.  Invest in a wide mouth thermos for hot foods and an insulated lunch pack so you can take cold food with you.  Always plan to have core food with you as a prevention against being hungry with nothing Core in sight.  A small bag of baby carrots, an apple, a pint carton of FF milk can go along way toward keeping you on track when you are delayed or held up in a meeting. 
 
4) Prepare.  Have some easy snack ideas ready and at hand for those late afternoon munchies.  You will have cravings on your first week of Core while your body detoxes from sugar.  Having something easily grabbed, such as fruit, popcorn, or roasted chickpeas helps you overcome the impulse to grab a non-core food.  Try to cook ahead on the weekend, or in the evening to help make lunches more convenient to prepare through the week.  Steam extra veggies, then refrigerate to be reheated with leftover meat.  Make a couple extra servings of rice or grain to take for lunches; mix in cooked veggies & canned tuna, cheese, or beans for protein.
It becomes easier each week you are on Core.  The planning and grocery shopping take less time, and your meals can really become adventurous.  It is easy to succeed on Core, it just takes a commitment to learn the program and planning so you will be prepared and able to stay on track.
 
Q:  What does a typical Core menu look like?
A:  If you go back a week or so on the WPA board on WW, you will find many daily menu posts.  These are quite helpful in seeing the possibilities with the Core Plan.  Here are a few ideas:
 
Monday:  Point Total – 2 pts.
Breakfast:  Smoothie (1 c. Skim Milk, c. FF plain yogurt, c. tofu, orange, pineapple, banana)
Lunch: Couscous, Grilled Chicken, Green Beans (2 servings)
Snack: 94% FF Popcorn (Jolly Time Healthy Pop Butter Flavored)
Dinner: Beef with Barley Soup (thick), 1 biscuit (2 pts.)

Tuesday: Point Total – 1 pt.
Breakfast:  Bkfast Burrito (1 pt. tortilla, eggs, FF cheddar, onions, Canadian bacon, peppers)
Lunch: Leftover Soup
Snack: Fruit – Banana or Apple, Skim Milk
Dinner: Steak, Potato, Corn, SF-FF pudding

Wednesday: Point Total – 3 pts.
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Apples, Skim Milk
Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwich (2 slices bread, 1 pt. per slice), Plum, 2 gingersnaps (1 pt.)
Snack: Fruit Cocktail (in own juice) yogurt
Dinner: Whole Wheat Spaghetti w/ meat sauce. salad with oil + vinegar dressing (2 tsp. olive oil + balsamic vinegar)

Thursday: Point Total – 4 pts.
Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs w/ Canadian Bacon, 1 pc. Toast (1 point)
Lunch:  Boca Burger, FF Cheese (bun = 3 pts)
Snack:  Banana, 1 glass milk
Dinner: Steak and Peppers Stir Fry with brown rice, pumpkin mousse made with SF/FF pudding + canned unsweetened pumpkin
 
Friday: Point Total – 0 pts.
Breakfast: Smoothie (1 c. milk, c. plain FF yogurt, c. tofu, banana, c. coffee, pkg. SF FF Choc pudding)
Lunch:  Leftover Stir Fry
Snack: Apple, 94% FF popcorn
Dinner: Chili, raw veggies + dip (FF sour cream + ranch seasonings)

Saturday: Point Total – 2 pts
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Milk, Cherries & Blueberries
Lunch: Goulash (whole wheat macaroni, lean ground beef)
Snack: WW Sundae Cone (2 pts.)
Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Marinara Sauce, salad, FF dressing

Sunday: Point Total – 6 pts.
Breakfast: Smoothie (1 c. milk, c. plain FF yogurt, c. tofu, strawberries, cherries, peaches)
Lunch: Pot Roast carrots potatoes
Dinner: Boca Burger (3 pts for bun),  raw veggies, WW Cheesecake desert (3 pts.)
 
Total Planned Points for Week: 18 points, 17 pts. for other whoopsies!
 
Q:  What about eating out on Core?
A:  This can be difficult if your only choice is a fast food restaurant.  However, any full service restaurant can prepare Core food for you.  Ask for grilled meats without added oil, FF dressing, plain baked potatoes, steamed veggies.  Don't be afraid to ask for food to be prepared to your specifications.  Most restaurants will happily oblige you.
 
Q:  Is it true what I've heard about losing your cravings on Core?
A:  YES!  If you will follow the Core plan for one week, stay away from sugary snacks and processed food, you will notice a difference in your cravings.  Your body will stop craving those things if you stop eating them.  You will be more satisfied eating whole foods from the Core list and that will naturally lower the intake of calories, which produces results at the scale. 
 
Q:  Will I lose more weight on Core than I did with Flex?
A:  Maybe, but neither Flex or Core are quick weight loss programs.  If you have been eating a lot of sugar and processed junk or fast food, you may see large losses on Core while your body adjusts to the new healthy food.  Both WW plans are designed so you lose .5 to 2 pounds per week.
 
Q:  I have read on the message boards where people don't count points for certain non-core foods, or use lowfat dairy products instead of FF, what is that all about?
A:  Those little changes we, the users of the program, call Core "tweaks".  All of us, from time to time, will tweak the program to fit our needs and lifestyles. If we find we can eat moderate amounts preflavored yogurt a few times a week, or decide to call lean sliced deli turkey or fat free half and half Core for ourselves, and we're not going overboard, and we're losing, we are certainly adult enough to make that decision for ourselves.  
 
Keyword: Ourselves. It is important that we remember our tweaks and don't confuse others by communicating our Core tweaks as being Core. What is Core is Core as defined by Weight Watchers in the official materials, either printed, online, or both. Everything else is our personal interpretation or changes, and in all fairness should be communicated as such.


Please drop me a line if you have anything to add to this FAQ list. Remember to put "WW" in the subject line! 

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