Not only do more than one-third of adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity, but the obesity epidemic also continues to escalate. Given the increased risk of many of the leading causes of preventable death — including everything from heart disease to type 2 diabetes to certain types of cancer — more and more people are turning to bariatric surgery for weight loss and management. In fact, the global bariatric surgery market is expected to grow by a significant 10 percent over the five year period between 2017 and 2022.
It’s hardly a surprise, then, that many businesses are scrambling to get in on the action by manufacturing and selling bariatric-friendly foods. But all bariatric foods aren’t created equal. Read on for four questions to ask to determine the best bariatric foods for your patients.
Marketers may make broad claims about health benefits of their products, but how do you really know you’re getting what they’re pitching? Many bariatric foods are shockingly high in sugar and/or fail to provide adequate amounts of protein. The only true way to determine the nutritional value of a bariatric food product: Inquire about it. This information should be made readily available; if it’s not, it’s a red flag.
Organic ingredients support weight management and overall health in a multitude of ways following weight loss surgery. Says Charles Benbrook, co-author of a study published in the British Journal of Medicine, 'Organic plant-based foods offer some significant nutritional advantages, and also reduced risks associated with exposures to cadmium and pesticides in food.”
In fact, antioxidant levels were a whopping 17 percent higher in organic crops than in non-organic crops. Not only that, but they’re lower in calories, too. Continues Benbrook, “When produce is over-fertilized, the ratio of calories per antioxidant activity goes way up.”
According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, meanwhile, the abundance of healthy plant compounds found in organic fruits and vegetables may help stabilize the appetite, control blood sugar levels, and promote feelings of fullness.
The takeaway for dietitians looking to help post-op patients maximize their chances at weight loss? Choosing bariatric products made with organic ingredients is the imperative.
Many nutrient dense foods are, by nature, perishable. Fruits, vegetables, and lean meats all require refrigeration and therefore have short shelf lives. Unfortunately, this can leave many weight loss patients in a bind. When the fridge is bare, will your patients have access to healthy options, or will they turn to the chips and junk food that led them down the obesity path in the first place?
While finding healthy food with a long shelf life may sound like an impossible question, this is exactly what Achieve from Rational Foods offers. At 160 calories, featuring flavorful organic “real” food like strawberry, raspberry, carrot and yogurt, and packed with 20 grams of protein, these are both ready-to-eat AND shelf stable for 18 months — meaning they’re easy to stock up on and store.
Most people agree that conventional bariatric foods like chalky-textured shakes and overly sweet “nutrition” bars are lacking in the taste department. And while no sales rep is going to tell you their products taste awful, their response and degree of enthusiasm speaks volumes. (Another red flag? Sales reps who can’t speak to the the taste of a product because they haven’t actually tasted it.)
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether a bariatric food option is a winner in the taste department? Ask to sample it yourself. Again, Rational Foods’ chef-driven Achieve shines in this area. Because it is real food, it tastes like real food -- which is one of the best ways to promote satisfaction and keep cravings away.
Eating a boring, flavorless diet can be a detriment to post-bariatric surgery adherence, as can relying on products that falsely represent themselves as healthy. Dietitians can best support their weight loss surgery patients by pointing them in the direction of next-level bariatric foods that deliver all the nutrition and health benefits they’re looking for with no sacrifice of flavor.