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Beware of Deceptive Labeling

Lap Band Patients: Don’t Fall for these Nutritional Lies

As a bariatric surgery patient you understand how hard it can be to navigate a healthy diet. The rules are complicated enough without someone throwing curve balls at you. While food companies may not be maliciously trying to destroy your dieting efforts, they are hoping that you will crack just enough to buy their box of cookies. However, a lot of food companies have moved away from the hopes of sneaky indulgences and are now deceiving dieters so that we think we are eating healthily when snacking. This is trickery indeed and needs to be watched out for—especially after bariatric surgery.

The FDA does a good job regulating labels to protect consumers from fraudulent health information on packaged foods, but it is not perfect. There are a lot of subjective terms that are difficult to define legally, and food and advertising companies take full advantage of this. Words like ‘natural’ and ‘low’ may not mean what you think they mean, which means companies can use these rhetorical devices to manipulate how you interpret their items. If you aren’t paying attention, your ‘low cal’ or ‘all natural’ snack could be interfering with your weight loss efforts.

After bariatric surgery, you really need to stick closely to the dietary guidelines that your weight loss surgeon Dr. Bagnato has set forth for you. Over time you will begin to learn what is OK and what is not, but until then don’t take any chances. When you do start venturing down the middle isles of the grocery store, keep these hints in mind and remember to stick closely to your weight loss surgeon’s instructions.

Here are a few of the most common misleading terms that you need to watch out for:

  • Natural: The term natural means that there cannot be any artificial ingredients in the item. It does not mean that the item is not loaded with otherwise ‘natural’ ingredients like sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and chances are the item is still highly processed.
  • Real fruit flavor: When this is printed on the box, the emphasis is on the flavor. A lot of cereals are particularly guilty of putting fake fruit in their product and making it sound just confusing enough so people think it is healthy. A lot of cereal is made with ‘fruits’ that are comprised of high fructose corn syrup, sugar and hydrogenated oils along with artificial flavors and dyes. The flavor may taste real, but it is far from it.
  • Lightly sweetened: The FDA does not monitor this term like it does other sugar-free claims. If you see this term, then the food company is trying to convince you of something that the FDA didn’t agree with. Check the nutrition panel before digging in, as lightly sweetened could refer to over 100 grams of sugar in a serving. You are much better off looking for no-sugar added labels, but it is still a good idea to double check the nutritional content of those items, as well.

Going to the food store after Lap Band surgery can be a challenge, and it will take some getting used to. In time, you will find healthy snack items that you enjoy and you will be able to lose weight while still enjoying the food on your plate.


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