Reading Nutrition Labels

Reading Nutrition LabelsWhen you reach for the bag, box or bottle of any pre-packaged food, you will find a grid of information. This is the nutrition facts label. It provides detailed information about the number of calories, the nutritional value and other details about the item in question.

These nutrition labels are there to provide you with valuable information about the food you eat.

Nutrition Facts Matter

After weight loss surgery, you’ll have to make a series of changes to your diet. Having reduced stomach capacity will cause you to grow full quickly. While this encourages weight loss, it also reduces the opportunities you have to supply your body with essential nutrients.

Nutrients are our primary form of nourishment. There are six forms of nutrients; and each play a particular role in our physical health, mental clarity and energy levels.

They are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Water

While the amount of food you can eat will decrease after weight loss surgery, your nutrition needs will not. This means you have to find ways to maximize your nutrient intake while minimizing calories. To do this, you’ll be encouraged to eat foods that are rich in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and protein.

Understanding Food Labels

The nutrition facts label will act as your cheat sheet as you try to incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your post-surgical diet plan. Nutrient dense foods are foods that maintain a high level of nutrients per calorie. Following surgery, you’ll likely grow full even after eating a small quantity of food. By making your food choices nutrient-dense, you can maximize nutrient intake in smaller portions.

Reading a nutrition label can help you make food choices based on the nutritional quality of an item, helping you to maximize the nutrients your body has the chance to absorb before you grow full.

Follow these tips when reading a nutrition label:

  • Start at the top to find out how many calories are per serving.
  • Pay attention to the serving size. Never assume that one package is equal to one serving.
  • After weight loss surgery, try to find items high in protein. Always eat your serving of protein before other items.
  • Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Try eating items with healthy levels of mono-and poly-unsaturated fats, instead.

Percent Daily Values

On the right hand side of every food label there is a list of percentage marks. These are your percent daily value, and they are based on a 2000 calorie diet, which you will not follow after weight loss surgery.

Use these percentages as a general guide to gage how much of a nutrient is present per serving:

  • Greater than 20% indicates a high quantity
  • Less than 5% indicates a low quantity

Use your knowledge of nutrition labels to make smart choices that comply with your surgeons post-bariatric guidelines after surgery. Eating a nutrient rich diet will help you to maintain good health as you lose weight.