It's never had the best reputation and it frustrates me no end that sick people are being fed food that not only wont aid their recovery but likely impede it.
When I was a nurse one of the things that irritated me most was the extremely poor quality of food and nutrition being fed to patients. So much so that the facility manager would dread seeing me walk in his direction for fear of another bout of ranting, whining or pleading with him to make improvements to the menu. I have no doubt that I was pretty obnoxious back then, but it doesn't make my points any less valid!
This topic has been reignited for me recently as I have been spending a bit of time working in hospitals and care facilities and am finding myself increasingly appalled at the quality of "food" being served up to patients and residents.
Queensland Health has signs in prominent positions stating that "food is an important part of your care". I must admit that my excitement over seeing these was rather short lived.
Attached is a photo of a meal that was served up to a diabetic patient currently in hospital. Most people would serve spaghetti bolognaise from time to time, so what's the issue here?
1- The carbohydrates in the pasta will dramatically increase blood sugar levels (BSL). There has been considerable research around this topic (peer reviewed, evidence based research) which clearly shows that high levels of carbohydrates are incredibly damaging for those with diabetes.
2- where are the vegetables??? Sure, there are probably some tomatoes, onions and garlic in there, but that doesn't really cut the mustard. Sick people already have lowered immunity and require extra nutrition to nourish their systems in order to allow them to heal.
3- remember where I mentioned diabetes? Well, that sugar loaded "fruit" mousse and custard aren't exactly going to prevent big spikes in BSL.
4- these meals are mass produced with budget in mind, not nutrition. Anything is done to provide meals for the lowest price, but is this really saving money? Think about this.... What if by giving sick people highly nutritious food, full of good fats and vegetables, we sped up recovery time allowing patients to be released earlier? What if they were educated on diet and lifestyle choices that would improve their health and prevent their need to return to hospital? Surely that would actually be more cost effective?
I've received many funny looks for taking home cooked meals to family and friends staying in hospital, but in my opinion as a nutritionist, good food is imperative to recovery and healing!
Peace, love and wellness,