Originally Posted by Koshka
I'm curious. How does TOPS or other exchange programs handle foods that aren't really exchanges? That is, one of the things that I liked about the WW exchange program at the time was that if I was at a birthday party I could eat a small piece of cake which didn't fit into any of the exchanges but would count against optional calories. Or I could occasionally have a piece of candy and count that as optional calories. I remember once looking into some exchange programs and they didn't seem to allow any of that at all. I didn't mind the exchanges and mostly eating healthy but didn't like the idea of never being to eat a piece of cake or candy at all.
Does TOPS have some mechanism to allow for that?
Joanna Lund's Healthy Exchanges (if I'm remembering correctly) has both optional calories and floating exchanges (although I don't remember if she calls these floating exchanges or something else. It might be flexible exchanges).
But at any rate, there's no magic in exchange plans, so you can tweak any of them to fit your own needs (especially if you're only making relatively minor "trades" rather than for example deciding that you want to eliminate an entire exchange category - say deciding you don't want to eat any vegetables).
In diabetic exchanges, they often don't allow "optional calories" or "floating exchanges" because the carb counts have to be more precise to control blood sugar.
But if you're not diabetic there's no reason you can't tweak any plan to fit your needs. That's what I did. I took the Hillbilly Housewife's 1500 calorie plan as my minimum exchanges. Then I added another category for "Flexible exchanges" and gave myself 6 "optional exchanges" (I could spend those exchanges on fruit, bread, protein, or milk exchange or 2 fat exchanges, essentially on 60-80 calories of just about anything)
I could just have easily chosen the 1500 calorie plan as my minimum and given myself 300 optional calories - or the 1200 calorie plan and 600 optional calories.
Originally Posted by Koshka
I don't have a copy of it. It was the plan (or close to it) when I originally joined in 1989 and got to goal in 1991. It was an exchange plan. So many breads a day, so many proteins, fruit, veggies, fat and milk. I think you got a certain number of floating exchanges that you could use for bread, protein and maybe fruit. I almost always used those for extra bread. Then you got a certain number of optional calories a week.
Truthfully, I still think that exchanges are a great plan since it really helps you to eat in a more healthy way.
The WW plan was similar to diabetic exchanges and I think TOPS does an exchange plan.
What made it work for me though with WW were the floating exchanges and having the optional calories so I don't know if TOPS or diabetic exchanges have anything similar.
As I mentioned, TOPS and diabetic exchanges don't, but I also really liked that aspect of the program, so I added it into my own program as I mentioned above.
I do have a WW program book around here somewhere (from the 1990's, I believe) and the one thing I'm glad that I did not incorporate from the WW plan is the slow roll-out of food choices (the first week you were only allowed certain foods for each of the exchanges, and you had to wait until like the 6th week to get the full food choice list). I don't think there was any benefit to that except making sure new members attended at least six weeks of meetings (a practice WW still does. You can't get the full program on your first visit, they drag it out to keep you coming in).
Another book I highly recommend is the book Exchanges for All Occasions
(the 4th edition if you can find it, because this edition gives you instructions on how to calculate exchanges from nutrition labels).