When you think of “healthy” foods, what do you think of? Do you think of fruits or vegetables or whole grains? Do you think of nuts, seeds, or proteins? Do you think of organic foods or gluten free? Do you think of feeling full and satisfied? Or do you think of feeling hungry and unsatisfied?
A new study points toward people believing the “healthy = less filling” paradigm. Whether a food is portrayed as healthy or unhealthy impacts consumer judgement and behavior. If a food is touted as healthy, consumers tend to order more of it and consume more of the food. Surprisingly, even if consumers said they did not agree with the idea that healthy foods are less filling, they still ate more. This paradigm poses a problem for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients following their post surgical diet to promote weight loss. Bariatric patients often try to eat “healthy” in order to eat foods that are nutrient dense to ensure adequate nutrition in less calories.
Is it possible that labels and packages advertising foods as “healthy” could ironically be causing people to eat more of the food and further contributing to the obesity epidemic? Undoubtedly, psychological issues contribute to people overeating in addition to physical feelings of hunger. But, we don’t know how much promoting foods as healthy contributes to overeating.
How can you prevent yourself from overeating foods promoted as healthy? The knowledge that healthy does not automatically equal less filling is a start. Knowing that people tend to eat more of a food if it’s marketed as healthy can help you stop before you overeat. But, study authors also say that “highlighting the nourishing aspects of healthy food mitigates the belief that it is less filling.” By understanding the nutrition and health benefits of a food instead of just knowing it is healthy can prevent overeating the food. If you are eating a food because it is high in fiber, or it has a lot of vitamin C, or it’s a good source of protein instead of because it’s “healthy,” you may be able to avoid overeating the food.
Ultimately, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients need to choose foods that provide adequate protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep them well nourished. But they also need to consume those nutrients in smaller amounts of calories in order to promote their desired weight loss. Eating large amounts of healthy food may be better than eating unhealthy food, but bariatric patients must also be mindful of the amount of each food they are eating.
The above information is offered by Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA, a board certified surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic and obesity surgeries including vertical sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable lap band, and gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s surgical weight loss patients come from all over South Florida including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Wellington, and Orlando.