Maximize Your Nutrition: Read Those Food Labels!
Bariatric surgery has helped many people lose weight, but it doesn’t work all by itself – you need to be committed to making important changes in your diet to ensure you keep the pounds off and get the nutrition you need. Part of that effort involves reading food labels and understanding how each item fits into your daily diet. Reading labels sounds pretty straightforward, but sometimes it can be a little confusing. Here are three tips to help you understand food labels, so you can make the healthiest choices for your needs.
- • Get an overview of nutrition information from the top of the nutrition label. Here, you’ll find serving size per bottle or container. Be sure to pay attention to the serving size – sometimes an item you think is a single serving turns out to be two or more, so adjust the amount you eat accordingly.
- • Look at the nutrients and percentages. You may be surprised at how two similar foods stack up when comparing how many vitamins and minerals – and how much fat and sodium – each contains. Looking at the percentages will let you know how much of your recommended daily allowance you’ll be getting from each food you select. Just remember the percentages are based on a single serving. And be sure to look at the “daily diet” size; percentages will be based on a specific daily caloric intake – usually 2,000 calories per day.
- • The recommendation in grams or percentage is designed for people with normal weight. We need to take in consideration the difference in people weight and medical problems.
- • Don’t assume the lowest-fat alternative is always the healthiest. While you may be tempted to automatically choose the lower fat food, don’t overlook, the carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals (especially calcium and iron), protein and fiber content. Sometimes, a small increase in fat content is far outweighed by significant increases in these important nutrients.
Remember, your goal when choosing packaged foods is to maximize the good nutrients while minimizing the “bad” factors, such as unhealthy fats and processed sugars and starches.
Skip the Calorie Counting
The usefulness of understanding nutrition labels is not so you know how many calories you are consuming each day. Calorie counting is a time consuming and tedious exercise that most of our patients would rather avoid. The true value of food labels is identifying the carbohydrates that may be hiding in your food. Keep a close watch for anything in the ingredients list that ends in:
- –sugar: Raw sugar, turbinado sugar invert sugar, beet sugar.
- –syrup: maple syrup, corn syrup, carob syrup and of course honey and molasses
- –ose: Lactose, glucose, sucrose fructose, galactose
- –ase: Dextrase, diatase, maltase
- –ol: mannitol, ethyl maltol
- –juice: cane juice, fruit juice,
On the nutrition label look at the Total Carbohydrates section. This includes all types of carbohydrates like sugars, complex carbohydrates and fiber. Starches are not listed on the label but are included in the total carbohydrate amount.
You should see a list including dietary fiber and sugars under the total carbohydrate heading. Your body cannot digest some fibers. However it is hard to determine which ones you may or may not going to absorb. You should use the “TOTAL” carbohydrates, not the “NET” carbohydrates.
Also look for Sugar Alcohols or Polyols on the label. A product can be labeled “Sugar Free” and still contain sugar alcohols which are carbohydrates too.
Reading labels takes time, but it’s an important part of staying healthy, especially after weight loss surgery. The main function of carbohydrate-rich food is to provide energy. Remember, fat cells in our body are deposits of energy, which were not used in the past. In order to “force” our body to go after the fat cells for energy, it is necessary to reduce the intake of energy. We prefer you limit your carbohydrate intake to 30 grams per day to facilitate the process of weight loss. To achieve this you will need to get familiar with food labels.
For More Information on Weight Loss Surgery.
For more information on bariatric surgery, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Baptista, please contact Florida Surgical Physicians today.