Aug 5 2011

Hospital Food – WTF?


A few weeks ago I was having some abdominal pains that lasted about two days.

By the second day I started to realize it was my appendix. I had a strong feeling that it was going to have to be yanked, so I went to my doc.

He sent me to the hospital and sure enough, later that evening I had an appendectomy.

It was a pretty pleasant experience for the most part. The hospital staff was great, I had a nice roommate, they left me alone a little so I could sleep, the nurse made sure to put in a request for a vegan friendly breakfast, but then something happened.

In the morning I was greeted with eggs, coffee, coffee cake and orange juice from concentrate.

I’m pretty sure you don’t need a degree in nutrition or medicine to know that someone recovering from surgery shouldn’t be drinking caffeine, or eating sugar. They are both stimulants and add to inflammation, exactly what I don’t want.

Also, eggs are not vegan. For the general public I get that that may not be obvious, but a nutritionist at a hospital should know that.

When I told the “nutrition consultant” that I was vegan, and would rather have oatmeal made with water with fruit and some water, she asked if I wanted chicken or fish.

First of all, even if I ate meat, I’m sure I wouldn’t want it at 8 in the morning, nevertheless, I said “No thank you, but I actually don’t eat meat”. Thinking she missed that the first time around.

She said, “Oh, I know”. Clearly we were having a bit of a  disconnect.

I said, “I mean, I don’t eat meat, chicken, fish, steak…”

She said “Chicken and fish aren’t meat”.

Ok, so I just had my appendix removed the night before and really didn’t want to get into it, so I just said, “Anyhow, just some oatmeal would be great”.

She offered me some toast, and I said, “Sure, whole wheat with no butter would be nice”.

She said, “It’s kosher butter, so it’s not dairy”.

Come on, how can a “nutrition consultant” at a hospital not know that butter is made from milk, or that chicken is meat. I get that the fish thing is sort of a gray area for people, but chicken?

I don’t know, but the whole experience was a little frightening. Most people do not know that much about nutrition, which is how they got into the hospital in the first place.

Isn’t it the hospital’s responsibility to not only know about nutrition, but to educate patients so they don’t end up back in the hospital?

Everyone is going crazy about health care, but no one is looking at the obvious solution, which is preventative care. If people ate more fruits and vegetables, and less meat and dairy, health care costs would go down, simple as that.

Yet, when you go to the hospital, they are pumping you full of caffeine and sugar, and trying to pass orange juice from concentrate as a fruit.

I recently saw Forks Over Knives, and it did an amazing job of showing how a plant based diet lowers risks of cancer and heart disease, which would in turn lower health care costs.

Anyhow, I was happy to go home and make myself a spinach salad!

What are your hospital food stories?

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