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Facing the Nutrition Facts: Deciphering Food Label Myths

Masked woman in Supermarket

We see them all over the grocery aisles. Food labels claiming to be low in fat, low in sugar, low in sodium, or in some other way better for your health. When you’re trying to change your diet and eat more healthily, these labels can make your head spin. Is there a better choice for these food labels? Are they actually better for you? Are they healthy to eat at all?

Before your next shopping trip, follow these tips to decipher food labels and better understand the health promises.

Why Some Food Labels can be Deceptive

The logic is simple: fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrates. So, if you cut the fat, you should be eating healthier, right? Not always.

The truth is many products that “cut out the fat” will need to find something else to take its place. Usually, this means more sugar, salt, or other flavorful ingredients to compensate. This is especially true in pre-packaged or overly processed food. Less fat means less flavor, and something else needs to make up the difference.

What About Sugar Substitutes?

Someone once said, “A rose by any name may smell as sweet,” and it must ring true because sugar has over 50 different names. As with cutting the fat, cutting sugar out of foods leaves space for other ingredient substitutes. While there certainly can be benefits to substituting sugar in your diet, many sugar substitutes will like still contain calories and be just as bad for your weight loss goals. If you are looking to cut out the sugar, talk to your doctor or dietician to come up with the best course of action.

Going Beyond the Flashy Tagline

As you shop for healthy foods, a good rule is to look for foods that are low in calories. When you break it down to the fundamentals, weight loss is about burning off more calories than you take in. Ignore the promises in bold fonts and graphics and pay close attention to the nutrition and ingredient labels. Another good rule to go by is about pronunciation: if you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients, how can you be sure about the ingredients you are putting in your body?

Navigating your weight loss routine certainly isn’t a quick or easy process. At Lifeweigh Bariatrics, we want to be there to help you at each stage. To learn more about weight loss plans and the bariatric lifestyle, visit our website.

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