Hospital Meals: Aiding or Stalling Patient Recovery?

 “Hospital meals – and food brought into hospitals by relatives and friends – can be an important part of a patient’s recovery process” – Gary Culliton

Nutrition is of essence when it comes to the overall well-being of a healthy individual. When people fall ill, they are in a state of reduced immunity which would need to be boosted by taking the right foods and medication.

nurse-giving-man-food-in-hospital
Source: WiseGeek

However, a lot of emphasis has been placed on expensive medication – intravenous fluids, injections and over the counter drugs. Nutrition mostly comes into play when the cases are chronic and terminal like diabetes, heart diseases, obesity to name few. I did not put cancer on the list because I had a close relative that was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and had the prostate gland removed. I witnessed the hospital kitchen staff bring “unhealthy” meals like Jollof rice made with white rice which must have been cooked with lots of oil (Nigerians love oils in meals), fried meat and fish, swallow foods like Semovita and fufu. This was a government-owned hospital in Nigeria and this patient was advised to steer clear of refined foods but was served same in the hospital he was recuperating. Irony right? Healthy, nutritious meals that have all classes of food in the right proportions would make a huge difference in the recovery process of patients. Its also a way of encouraging patients to embrace healthy eating and not just because they are ill.dew

Patient care is beyond keeping them hydrated and ensuring they are fed. When patients are admitted into the hospital, their vitals – blood pressure, sugar level, height, weight are measured. In some cases, urine and poop tests are also carried out. Body mass indices, visceral fat, stress levels can be deduced from the test results alongside questions asked from the patients. Dietary changes should be treated as priority now that new diseases are emerging. Patients should be able to see quality food as important as the medications they are take. A patient that just had a surgery should have a tailored food menu while in the hospital and when he is out. A patient with cancer should have the meals tailored to suit the condition. The hospital catering facility should be such that all patients are catered to according to their nutritional needs, allergies, treatment duration with the help of a registered dietitian. This would be a huge selling point for any hospital that adopts this integrated patient recovery system.

I have met a lot of people who have had less hospital visits since they cut out junk foods and moved more. I like to always say this;

“For a sustainable healthy lifestyle, its not all or nothing.”

Tiny baby steps make huge difference on the long run till we can comfortably stick to it longer. It beats me that we let cases get so bad before addressing nutrition. Its not easy to just switch to those not-so-sweet foods that are good for us. Healthy meals can be introduced gradually – salads, fresh fruit & vegetable smoothies, coldpressed juices are fun and easy ways to introduce healthy eating to even kids!

Healthy-plant-based-hospital-food-future.jpg
Source: The Food Revolution Network

Its never to late to address any issue. Are you a doctor, a nurse or registered dietitian? Do you work in a health facility? You can influence this! Or have you tried to introduce this dietary overhaul and it did not work? Let me know what the challenges are in the comment section and we can start from there. It starts with a will to drive change.

Thank you for your time and yeah lets get back to work.

Yours Truly,

Ruky.

 

 

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