Isn’t funny how plans are somewhat like leaves on the trees in autumn. Some stick and some are blown away by a gust of wind. Yesterday my plan was to make a nice dinner and test out a new gluten & dairy-free tomato soup that I was to make for a party. Then a gust of wind came and blew that plan into the wild blue yonder…
Unfortunately my eldest daughter became very ill and we spent the entire day in the hospital emergency ward. Thankfully all she has is a very bad case of tonsillitis. Of course the ER is not the place to seek medical attention for a common illness … but there is a twist.
Two years ago my eldest daughter, then 17, had a stroke. Yes, it does happen. Allegedly due to the birth control pill she had taken for only 8 months to clear up a little acne. Doctors seem to hand out these pills like candy! Now, through diet and daily skin care, her face is clear. No more pill. But I digress … This bout of tonsillitis was different in that it was accompanied by a severe headache and nausea. These two symptoms don’t usually occur with a case of tonsillitis but they are symptoms of a stroke. As she is now in the “high risk” category for stroke because of her history, off we went to the ER. They took exceptional care of her. After all the necessary diagnostic tests, including a CT scan, we were given the all clear and she was discharged. Wonderful news! My prayers were answered. Of course this took 9 hours.
Now, here is the food part … After spending 9 hours in the hospital, needless to say I was a bit peckish and required some nourishment. As one of the major hospitals in a large city, one would expect a variety of food choices – In the cafeteria, deli, café, stores, some edible gluten-free & dairy-free food one could purchase somewhere in the building. Nope. In the deli, café, stores and cafeteria the only food items that were gluten & dairy-free were oranges & bananas (expensive & old), plain potato chips, boxed salad (without GF/DF dressing, not so fresh either), bento sushi (without GF soya sauce) and a sausage. Thankfully, after checking the ingredients label, I could eat the sausage. Plain. Dry. Full price – even though I didn’t have the “extras” – like a bun, among other things. The cafeteria “hot food” service set-up was a perfect advertisement for “How to Promote Cross-Contamination”. Ah well, it was protein and I was hungry, tired, stressed and willing to risk it.
Hospital food has always been given a bad rap – with good reason. Bacon, eggs, buttered toast, coffee and “juice”, for heart bypass patients? A dinner tray resembling the TV dinners of the 50’s and 60’s – boiled/mashed potatoes, plain white rice, dried up chicken or chicken covered in something that looks like a cream sauce, overcooked vegetables, YECH. The list of unhealthy foods served to patients goes on and on and on. Is this a plan for recurring business? Yes, it is difficult to provide three meals a day for a thousand people with varying needs and diets but surely the dietitians could come up with a healthier menu plan to feed and nourish all the patients back to health. The doctors put in the effort to patch/fix you up, one would think a healthy diet during your hospital stay would be a natural follow-up to the doctors efforts. And to feed the entourage, family & friends, that come with each patient, the hospital board could allow establishments on site that serve healthy, allergy-free foods. A juice or smoothie bar, a deli counter with salads made from fresh veggies and dressed with olive oil; these are only two of a myriad of choices out there. Please, hospital board, choose at least one! A place offering only coffee, an assortment of muffins, danish, cakes and cookies, shouldn’t be one of them. Cross-contamination, special dietary needs, allergies, surely these should all be taken into consideration in a hospital. Yes, cost, timing of service and the number of patients with a variety of dietary needs is challenging but surely, something can be done!
After one hour of searching on the internet, here’s the scoop.
Many people, including doctors, are writing blogs on the lack of dietary nutrition in hospitals or blogging about their hospital stay/food experiences. If you google “hospital food”, it’s astonishing how many results appear – over 34 million. This is an important issue, that must be dealt with ASAP!
Here are two interesting sites:
This site is authored by a doctor and discusses weight issues but also has a lot to say on hospital and school cafeteria food. Worth a look.
This is interesting, unfortunately most of the links don’t work. Do take the quiz – it’s fun. I lost.
There are many people lobbying for healthy nutritious food choices in hospitals and schools – good thing; this has been going on for years with, as of today, very few positive changes – not so good thing.
In time, with more doctors, dietitians and the general public speaking out, change will occur and hospitals will begin to offer healthier food choices. Let’s hope we are still around to benefit from those changes … 🙂 In the meantime, if you must stay in a hospital, have someone bring you food. It’s safer.