Unlike some diets that tell you to set certain ratios of carbs vs. proteins, or eliminate certain foods all together, the Weight Watchers plan allows each person to make their own choices about what to eat. The main guideline is to stay within a certain points allotment each day. Each person's daily points allowance is calculated based on height, weight, age and gender. Since you are tallying the number of points you eat throughout the day, there is no need to count calories for everything you eat as well. Also, the formula for calculating points takes into account where the calories are coming from. A 100 calorie food that is high in protein and fiber is more filling than a 100 calorie food with no fiber. In a sense, tallying points is a more effective gauge of what you eat than simply counting calories.
One thing that I think is really neat is that you can *earn* additional points by exercising. To me, it feels like a double incentive to exercise. You want to exercise to burn more calories and to stay physically fit, and when you do, you are allowed more food while still following the plan.
Plus, with the recent change, most fruits and vegetables are considered zero points. So you can eat as much of these as you want without ever exceeding your points allotment. This is really helpful because you never have to feel starved on Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers added in a nice perk with the new program: Real Living points. This is an extra cache of 49 points per week that you are allowed to put towards those little splurges that we all want from time to time. So if you have a piece of cake to celebrate a friend's birthday, you don't have to skip lunch or dinner. You just deduct the points from your Real Living total.
Weight Watchers has so many ways to support dieters, from the weekly group meetings at times that accommodate a variety of schedules to a huge store of online resources. There over 1000 recipes online as well as exercise videos and lots and lots of suggestions about how to stay focused on your goal. The online features are really helpful for people who are traveling and maybe can't get to a meeting. Some people just like to use the eTools throughout the day to make sure they are staying on track.
I compiled a list of common questions about the new program back in December when it was just rolling out. More recently I updated some of the low calorie points plus recipes and sandwich recipes on this site with the points values for Weight Watchers new program. Also, whether you are new to Weight Watchers or new to dieting in general, you might get some helpful shopping ideas from this starter grocery list.