Healthy Hospital Food

As a patient in the hospital, you’re often given a menu to order meals from. However, it’s important to check with staff before bringing food in from outside, as there are often food safety rules that need to be followed. Ask the nurse looking after you if they know your dietary needs and any restrictions you may have. It’s also a good idea to let them know if you have swallowing problems and need food pureed or mashed or your drinks thickened.

Many hospitals now have food programs designed to offer healthy choices for patients, staff and visitors. This includes patient-centered menus, healthier options in the cafeteria and catering for events like orientations, graduations and board meetings. These efforts aim to improve staff health and morale, cut down on staff costs associated with poor diets and support healing and recovery by providing a better source of nutrition.

It’s easy to see why these initiatives are a good thing. After all, if you walk through most hospital cafeterias, it’s hard not to be repulsed by the cheeseburgers, fries, processed meats and soda served on their menus. The truth is that most hospital kitchens don’t even cook much; they’re often reheating or undoing packaged foods, which mirror the school cafeteria menus so many of us remember from our youth.

What if there was a way to change this?

Fortunately, there is a way to bring healthy choices into the hospital, and it starts with changing the way we think about food in general. Instead of just considering how much calories something contains, we should be thinking about the quality of its ingredients.

For example, instead of just looking at the amount of fat or sodium in a meal, we should be taking into consideration how much saturated and trans fat is in it as well, and whether or not the food is sustainable. Another area where hospitals can make a big impact is by reducing the amount of meat in their meals, and opting for more plant-based options that support the needs of different religions and cultures.

Ultimately, hospitals should also look at ways to work with their suppliers to push for higher standards of the ingredients they use. It’s not enough to just have a vegetable side dish or piece of fruit available on the menu, it should be standard for all hospitals to have steady access to fresh produce and whole grains. And it’s not just for patients; hospitals should be offering these same healthy choices to their staff as well, so they can be role models for the people they treat in their buildings. After all, what you eat plays such an important role in your health and well-being, especially when you’re sick.