Reading Food Labels
After your weight loss surgery it is important that you are making food choices that will optimize your weight loss results. Nutrition labels are found printed on almost every packaged, bottled or bagged product you can find at the grocery store. These labels are jammed with the information concerning certain essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed in our food. Reading these labels can sometimes seem confusing, but if read properly, they can help you to make healthier food choices and aid in your weight loss journey.
Learn to read food labels with these steps:
- Start with the serving size. The serving size will be at the top of the label and will indicate the size of a single serving, as well as the total amount of servings in the package.
- Count the calories. Below the serving size will be the caloric value. This is the amount of calories contained per serving, not for the entire package—be sure to keep that in mind. Also listed, is the number of calories that are contributed from fat.
- Know the nutrients to limit. Following the calories will be the nutrients included such as the total fats, sodium, carbohydrates and protein. You’ll want to make sure that you are choosing foods that are low in total fat, sodium and cholesterol. These are nutrients that can damage your post-surgery diet. Also, be aware of carbohydrates and choose foods that are higher in dietary fiber and lower in sugar content.
- Check out the vitamins and minerals. Listed with the nutrients will be included vitamins and minerals. You’ll want your food choices to be rich in essential vitamins such as potassium, iron, Vitamin A or Vitamin C.
Understanding Percent Daily Value
The final part of any nutrition label is perhaps the most confusing portion—the percent daily value. The percent daily values are listed as a general guide so that you can connect the nutrients in a serving of food to your total daily diet. This is based on a general diet of about 2000-2500 calories per day. The percent daily value helps you to determine which foods are high or low in a specific nutrient.
- 5% or less is considered low
- 20% or more is high
Incorporating Food Labels for Weight Loss
Following your weight loss surgery, your diet should generally be high in protein and low in fats, sugars and sodium. Your surgery will limit the amount you can consume, so you want your food choices to be beneficial to your weight loss as well as your health. Using nutrition labels correctly can help keep you on track with your weight loss goals and can prevent you from filling up on negative calories.