Do you truly understand the food label? Think it’s just about reading the calories, fat, and protein? There is actually more to it than that!!
Whether you live in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Decatur, Texas next time you’re at your local grocery store, learn how to look past the marketing schemes and evaluate the product effectively yourself.
The serving size is the amount of the product that is being evaluated on the food label. It is important to understand how many servings are in a product prior to eating to help prevent eating excess calories. For Example, if you sit down and eat an entire family size bag of chips, you are consuming at least 5 times the number of calories, fat, carbohydrates (CHO), and protein that is on the food label. To avoid eating excess calories, measure out one serving prior to consuming when eating from multiple serving products.
5% or less = low
20% or more = high
As you can see in the label above for Macaroni & Cheese, this item is high in sodium and pretty high in fat. It is also high in calcium, but low in vitamin A, C, and Iron, probably not the greatest snack to choose.
Calories provide a measure of how much energy you are consuming from the product. Understanding this number is important because it helps you manage your weight. Calories IN (food consumed) must be less than calories OUT (calories burned) to lose weight. Calories also make up the total amount of macronutrients (CHO, fats, and protein) listed on the food label.
Fats are broken down into three types: saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fats. Saturated fats may increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and are generally solid at room temperature. Sources of Saturated fat
Not as many people look at the cholesterol unless you have history of heart disease. Cholesterol is only in animal foods, and believe it or not, is actually made by the human liver. Cholesterol is important, because it is a building block for steroid hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Even if you do not have a history of heart disease, you still need to watch the amount of cholesterol you consume each day. You should try to limit cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily.
Sodium is a nutrient that people struggling with hypertension may monitor. It is important to limit sodium intake to 2,000 mg daily (this is ONLY 1 teaspoon of salt). It is easy to reach this amount if you are consuming highly processed/convenient foods. You may want to especially watch out for soups, canned vegetables, prepared foods, soy sauce, pickled foods, and any items with visible salt. Eating fresh foods, making foods at home using herbs and spices instead of salt to season, and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store will help lower your intake of sodium daily.
Carbohydrates are made up of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) and sugar. When you subtract dietary fiber from the total amount of carbohydrates on the food label, this equals the NET carbs for the product. The
Gastric bypass patients need to be especially careful with sugar. When it comes to sugar, it is important to understand the difference between natural sugars and added sugar. When you are looking at the food label and is says 19 g of sugar. If sugar is listed in the ingredient list, then the sugar has been added. If the sugar is NOT listed in the ingredient list, then the sugar is naturally occurring in the product. Some foods with naturally occurring sugars include: milk products (plain yogurts), fruit, grains, legumes, etc. For example:
Label 1 is plain yogurt – contains no added sugars
Ingredients include: cultured pasteurized grade A non-fat milk
Label 2 is a fruit (sugar sweetened) yogurt
Ingredients include: cultured grade A reduced fat milk, apples, high fructose corn syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, natural flavors, and pectin.
You should also be aware the sugar can be disguised on the food label. It may be called one of the following: cane sugar, dextrose, cane juice, honey, barley malt, raw sugar, refiner’s syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maltose, fruit juice concentrate, dehydrated cane juice, agave nectar, beet sugar, buttered syrup, caramel, confectioner’s sugar, and more. For more names you can refer to this link. http://clinton.k12.wi.us/documents/sugar_names.pdf
Fiber, located under carbohydrates is broken down into two types, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are extremely important following bariatric surgery. Sometimes patients
Last, but definitely NOT least
Protein intake is the number ONE goal for bariatric surgery patients. Protein is essential to prevent hair loss, maintain immunity, and prevent a decrease in metabolism. It is extremely important to make sure you are meeting your protein goal daily. You can find your protein goal in the patient handbook on page 40; this number is based on your height and gender. Protein is easy to decipher on the food label, there are no tricks or gimmicks. The protein number is what it is. Good sources of protein include: egg whites, skim or 1% milk,
Kelsey Shepperd, MS, RD/LD, CPT, Registered Licensed Dietitian with My Bariatric Solutions, works with weight loss surgery patients in Decatur, Fort Worth, and Dallas Texas on their nutrition requirements pre- and post-surgery. Not only does she educate, but also strives to motivate her patients while adjusting their lifestyle habits, making their bariatric experience even more successful. Kelsey has worked as a bariatric and clinical dietitian at various facilities in the Dallas Fort Worth area.