Hospital food practices need an overhaul!

0
55

Pontiac Perspectives by Peter Gauthier

I recently underwent an operation – an event that required a one-week stay
at the hospital (not in Shawville). The service and attention I received was excellent and I had every confidence that I was receiving the best care possible. However, there was one exception – hospital food and meals.

Pontiac Perspectives by Peter Gauthier

I recently underwent an operation – an event that required a one-week stay
at the hospital (not in Shawville). The service and attention I received was excellent and I had every confidence that I was receiving the best care possible. However, there was one exception – hospital food and meals.
My meals started the day immediately after the operation. For the first two days they were liquid and the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A hospital liquid meal consists of three items:  a cube of chicken bouillon dissolved in hot water, a small serving of Jello, and
an apple juice. The chicken bouillon is essentially a sodium substance with artificial flavouring, no protein, no vitamins. The Jello is high in sugar, low in fibre, and low in protein. The nutritional content of the meal is questionable. The taste is best appreciated by those who have no taste buds. It’s difficult to recommend this meal for someone recovering from an operation.
The third day, meals were more solid. Breakfast was always the same: a serving of oatmeal cereal, followed by two slices of toasted bread and a slice of processed cheese (wrapped in an individual plastic envelope). The oatmeal was remarkably lacking the taste of regular oatmeal and had the appearance of a whiteish blob. The toast was made from bread slices that appeared to be two weeks old and had a notable cardboard taste. My dietician has always suggested I avoid processed foods, so it should come as no surprise that more than half of the meal was left unconsumed.
Lunch and dinner followed a common pattern. There was a soup, an entrée and a dessert of Jello or mousse. Although the soups were listed as different for each meal (chicken noodle, vegetable, beef barley, etc.) they all had the same appearance (something in hot water) and taste (of the plastic bowl they were served in). The main entrée was some sort of meat served with mashed potatoes and a spoonful of vegetables. The meat resembled leather in taste and texture despite what the menu stated.
It was uncuttable and unchewable. A ham serving was nothing more than a thin spread of Spam. An imitation lobster plate was pure rubber cut into small chunks. The vegetables were obviously thawed, waterlogged, and tasteless. The potatoes reminded me of something prepared at least one week ago.
The reason for such poor meal service in hospitals is a direct consequence of attempted cost savings. Having independent, private for-profit organizations providing meal services does reduce costs. However, there are two considerations that are very important about hospital foods that seem to have been forgotten: taste and nutrition. Patients are in the hospital because they are recovering from some illnesses or wounds. One element to quick and positive recovery is nutrition. This must be given as palatable food, or the patient will suffer. It’s time to review meal and food practices in our hospitals.