A hospital is a place where people go if they need surgery, need help getting over a bad illness or a safe place to give birth. This place is supposed to have the very best medical equipment, staff, medications and foods to ensure a speedy recovery.
Hospital foods have always been unappetizing- it was assumed that a patient was merely sick, fussy and unwilling to eat even if it was the very best steak in town. However, recently dieticians have slammed hospitals for the lack of nutritious meals available in hospitals. In order to better understand why the quality of the food in hospitals is poor one needs to look at two deciding factors. One- The Nutritional value of the food and Two- the available budget and
Nutritional Value of Food
The healthy food advocate in America has stated that the vegetable are frozen and waterlogged. This means the food is practically an empty soft version of a vegetable. A food manager in America has stated that the hospitals simply spoon out food portions for patients and place them on carts. There are two types of carts- heated and chilled. The food is then placed of the desired cart and wheeled off to hand out to the patients.
A registered dietician in a Montreal (Canada) hospital has co-authored a study documenting how patients cannot stomach the food and what hospitals need to do to improve the food. However, hospitals are cash-strapped and are of the opinion treating patients is a higher priority than feeding patients.
However, this leads to an important point. Should hospitals not be highly motivated to feed patients the correct meals? A healthy balanced diet would in fact speed up the patient’s recovery in two ways. First, the patient is receiving the correct food and portion size for a healthy meal. Second, a patient that receives high quality tasty food is more likely to want to eat the food- this in turn helps the patient recover faster, as their body is strengthening.
A recent survey of two hundred surgical and medical patients in Canadian hospitals found:
– 34 per cent said they’d missed a meal due to medical procedures.
– 69 per cent complained of poor appetite during their hospital stay.
– 60 per cent were interrupted at least once during a meal.
– 76 per cent were satisfied with the taste and temperature of the food.
This statistic shows that food is not a priority in hospitals, leaving patients losing vital weight as they fight to regain their health.
Protein is crucial to building and repairing cells. When a patient becomes sick and is bedridden for any length of time, protein becomes the number one concern for health. A diet needs to provide a sufficient balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. This means patients need to be eating foods such as: chicken, fish, brown rice and vegetables.
The Available Budget
Hospitals do not have the budget to properly cater for patient’s needs. Let us ignore ‘fussy’ eaters – vegetarians and those with specific dietary needs and focus solely on a standard diet for a person to maintain a healthy weight (the reason we ignore this is simply to demonstrate the point of the lack of budget available).
An investigation in the United Kingdom (UK) revealed that the daily food budget in hospitals in set at twenty pounds. A ready-made meal, consisting of the correct protein-fat-carbohydrate ratio, in the UK costs an average of thirteen pounds. Whereas a simple portion of pasta would cost four pounds.
This article is a simple illustration that hospitals around the world are not providing patients with the correct dietary requirements. One can take this further and discuss these topics in more details, but the bottom line is that hospitals are not supplying patients with the correct foods to recover effectively.
Image Attribution: michael.seth
- Image attribution
Greg Jones and I am want to show you the health care reporting on foods in hospitals and just why patients are not getting the food required to heal faster.