Reading Labels after Weight Loss Surgery

Reading Labels after Weight Loss SurgeryOn the side of every box, bag or bottle of food or drink you’ll buy in the United States there is a nutrition label. This label is a long grid, often black and white, that provides information about the nutrient content of the food inside the packaging. The Food and Drug Administration stipulates what information must be printed on each label. Reading nutrition labels and making educational dietary choices can help you along your weight loss journey.

Food Choices after Weight Loss Surgery

Following weight loss surgery your stomach capacity will be reduced, lessening the amount of hunger you feel daily. This will actually make the food choices you make even more important. Once you are recovered from surgery you’ll have to prioritize your nutrient intake and pay close attention to how much protein and other nutrients you are taking in. Reading food labels will help you with this process. There are several reasons to read labels after weight loss surgery:

  • Provide you with accurate information about your calorie intake
  • Indicate proper serving sizes
  • Tell you what nutrients are present in the item

Reading nutrition labels can help you determine what foods will make a healthy addition to your diet following weight loss surgery. When you first look at a nutrition label the information may not make much sense. As you spend more time evaluating them while shopping for food for yourself and your family you’ll become able to quickly glean the information you need without studying the label too long. The basic structure of every food label is the same. Here is a quick breakdown of how to read a food label:

  • Start at the top: The very top of a nutrition label will tell you the calorie contents, the recommended serving size and how many servings there are per package. Never assume that one bottle, bag or box of food is one serving!
  • Look at the protein: After weight loss surgery protein is your best friend. Grams of protein are usually listed in the middle portion of the nutrition label, towards the bottom of the list.
  • Check the good nutrients: At the bottom of the nutrition label you will find information about vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron. The greater the percentage of daily value for each of these nutrients per serving the better the item is for you.
  • Limit bad nutrients: Sugar, fat, sodium and triglycerides can spell trouble after weight loss surgery, so find items that are low in these nutrients.

Start paying attention to food labels before your weight loss operation, and continue reading them during your recovery period and as you transition back to whole foods. As you recover from weight loss surgery, nutrition labels will help you determine if you are getting the optimal amount of protein and other nutrients in your diet.


U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2013, March 2). How to understand and use the nutrition facts label.