Improving Hospital Food

hospital food

Despite the fact that hospitals are meant to heal patients, many of them still serve food that is downright gross. Whether you are a patient or a visitor, you can expect to be served meals that contain processed meats and cheese slices, canned fruit drenched in sugary syrup, deep-fried foods and plenty of other junk.

In an attempt to improve hospital food, many institutions are turning to nutritionists and classically trained chefs in order to revamp their menus. Some hospitals are even partnering with local small businesses to source organic ingredients and create healthy take-out options.

Changing hospital food is not an easy feat, however. The biggest issue is that hospitals have to cater to three different groups of consumers: employees, patients and visitors. Each has a unique set of needs and wants, so creating a meal that will appeal to all can be difficult. In addition, hospitals often face budget constraints that make it challenging to afford the high-quality ingredients that are necessary to make healthy food taste good.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently rated the menus of more than 100 hospitals and found that most of them failed to meet healthful standards. The criteria that hospitals are judged on includes items like leafy salads, whole grains and fruits, low-fat dairy, fewer calories and less saturated fat, and no more than 500 milligrams of sodium per day. Additionally, hospitals are encouraged to offer plant-based meals on at least one day of the week, offer soy milk, have an on-site garden, provide a farmers market and more.

While the majority of hospitals fail to live up to these healthful standards, some are starting to change. The Vail Valley Medical Center in Colorado, for example, opened a restaurant called Remedies Cafe. This restaurant offers healthier versions of comforting dishes, such as tarragon chicken with pasta and pesto cream sauce, and turkey smothered in tomato sauce and provolone cheese served over polenta. The restaurant also serves up fresh soup, and the menu is based on what is in season.

Pnina Peled, the executive chef at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has also been praised for her work. She created delicious, innovative meals for young cancer patients who were on restricted diets as a result of their bone marrow transplant procedures. She even created a taco-based dish that was styled after Moe’s Southwest Grill in an effort to make cancer patients’ favorite foods more appealing.

While most people will never choose to go to a hospital for their favorite dining experience, it is important to remember that the food offered in hospitals has an impact on not only the health of patients, but also the broader community and society at large. If the food served in hospitals is unhealthy, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can exacerbate health issues and make illnesses more severe. It is therefore essential that hospitals begin to focus on their food services and make improvements so that everyone can have a more nutritious meal.