Nutrition Labels and bariatric surgery

You’ll be making careful decisions about what you eat after weight loss surgery, and nutrition labels can help. Because they tell you exactly what’s in the food you’re eating, nutrition labels can be your guide to making healthier food choices and sticking to the nutritional requirements of your Sleeve Gastrectomy.

Nutrition labels are useful after bariatric surgery because they make it easier to:

  • Cut calories, carbs and fat from your diet
  • Meet your daily protein needs
  • Eat more essential vitamins and minerals

Using Nutrition Labels

Here are the different sections of a typical nutrition label and what they mean to you after bariatric surgery:

Serving Size

This section is right at the top, and for good reason—serving size tells you how much you’ll need to eat to get the calories and nutrients below, so it can help you make sense of the rest of the label. Look at how big the serving size is, as well as the number of servings per container. Remember that the whole package isn’t always a single serving.


Comparing the number of total calories in foods can help you find lower-calorie options. Calories from fat can also quickly give you an idea of a food’s fat content, which can help you find foods that are low in fat.

Nutritional Value

The rest of the nutrition label breaks down the food’s concentration of nutrients like fat, sodium, carbohydrates, protein and fiber. This section will show you how many grams or milligrams of each nutrient are contained in a single serving.

Some nutrients are also listed by percent daily value (abbreviated as % DV). This gives you a general recommendation for how much of each nutrient should be eaten in a 2,000-calorie diet. When the label says a food has 10 percent vitamin A, it means that one serving of the food contains 10 percent of the vitamin A that most people need to eat in a day.

Though percent daily value won’t apply directly to your diet after LAP-BAND surgery, it’s still useful for determining if a food is good or poor source of important nutrients.

  • % DV of 20 percent or more means the food is high in that nutrient
  • % DV of five percent or less means the food is low in that nutrient.

In general, you should look for foods that are low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. You’ll also need to steer clear of foods that are high in carbohydrates, especially high fructose corn syrup. Of course, chewable vitamins are very important, regardless of normal dietary vitamin intake.

Your protein goal after surgery will be at least 60 grams per day. You can help yourself stay healthy by finding foods that are high in protein and other important nutrients like:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron

What Else Do You Need to Know About Nutrition Labels?

That’s everything you need to know to use a nutrition label after bariatric surgery. If you haven’t watched the video, now is a good time so you can make sure you know what you are looking at the next time you look on the side of a food container. By paying more attention to the nutritional value of the foods you eat, it will be easier to meet your nutritional needs and lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way.

  • Understanding the Glycemic Index
    Carbohydrates are one of the six essential nutrients. Despite common talk about avoiding carbohydrates for weight loss, our bodies require them to thrive. Carbohydrates contain sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks down that sugar and absorbs it into the cells with the help of a hormone called insulin, where it is then converted to fuel and used for energy.
  • Reasons to Consider Weight Loss Surgery
    Getting weight loss surgery is a choice that can have a major influence on your health and quality of life for years to come. The conversation surrounding weight loss surgery may come up at the advice of a doctor, after seeing a friend who was successful in their weight loss efforts or maybe after a series of frustrating weight loss attempts.
  • Managing Special Occasions after Weight Loss Surgery
    Every time you turn the corner there is another fast food restaurant or bakery loaded with its own temptations, and you do what you can to stand strong and stick to your post-bariatric diet plan.
  • Healthy Shopping Strategies for a Healthy Household
    When one person in a household gets weight loss surgery, it is actually common for other members of that household to lose weight too. This is called a “halo effect.”
  • Making Healthy Food Substitutions after Weight Loss Surgery
    Approximately six weeks following weight loss surgery you’ll start making the gradual transition back to a whole-foods diet. This is an exciting period for many people. After weeks of gaining sustenance through liquids and soft foods, being able to enjoy a regular meal is something to look forward to.