Article By: Rachel Ignomirello, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LDN
Rachel Ignomirello is a Bariatric Dietitian and Board-Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management.
As a bariatric patient, it can be hard enough to find bariatric-specific products at the grocery store. What makes shopping even harder is that there are misleading products on the shelves. So-called “healthy products” can easily end up in the grocery cart if you’re not careful. As a bariatric dietitian, I often see patients get tricked by these five foods.
1) Specialty cookies. When perusing stores, you’ll see all kinds of cookies: high protein, sugar free, low fat, or even high fiber. Just because something has one of these titles does not mean it’s automatically healthy. When you flip the product over, was another nutrient compromised? Is the product also low in calories, fat, or carbohydrates? Probably not since a cookie is still a cookie after all. Homemade, bariatric-friendly cookies are easy! My favorite ones always include powdered peanut butter.
2) Granola and trail mix. A mixture of whole grains, nuts, and seeds seems like a healthy combo... While granola and trail mix do have some positive qualities like fiber and healthy fat, they are also very calorie-dense for bariatric patients. Plus, it can be tough to stick to one serving size (often only 1⁄4 cup). I encourage patients to try making their own versions instead – sans chocolate.
3) Bottled juices. With over 70g of carbohydrates per bottle, juices should be easy to avoid. However, the packaging is misleading... With pictures of fruits and vegetables and key words like “no sugar added,” I cannot blame patients for getting confused. Sure, the carbohydrates come naturally from fruit, but that much natural sugar will still trigger an upset stomach or the dreaded dumping syndrome. Juices are also low in fiber, so I tell patients to eat their fruit instead.
4) Veggie straws. How smart was the company to put the word “veggie” in the product title? Most people know actual vegetables are nutritious thanks to the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Do Veggie Straws share these same qualities? No, they do not. But how are they able to be called “veggie” then? It’s because potatoes are vegetables and listed first under the ingredients. Sure, they are a little lower in fat than regular potato chips, but I encourage patients to go for the real thing. Get some actual raw veggie sticks for better nutrition.
5) Coconut water. I personally feel like this should be renamed coconut juice. It gets the point across better for the sugar content. Even though it’s a great source of potassium for electrolytes, coconut water is not low in calories or sugar. Patients are often encouraged to add-in electrolyte beverages to support hydration and help prevent imbalances during rapid weight loss. However, there are plenty of other bariatric-friendly (zero-sugar) electrolyte replacement options out there.
As always, these five foods can be enjoyed in moderation. However, it would be wiser to limit ultra-processed foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. This is why it’s important to be a smart consumer and always read the food labels. When shopping, compare serving sizes and use the percent Daily Value (%DV) as a quick guide. 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high. There will be no tricking you next time!
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.