Is hospital food healthy? This might seem like a rhetorical question considering that hospitals are facilities where people receive life-improving care. Unfortunately, hospital food has a reputation for being unhealthy and unappetizing. Currently, only ten percent of hospitals nationwide have adopted initiatives to improve food quality. Improving food quality in hospitals takes effort, but it is possible with a few steps.
The first step in assuring that Hospital Food is healthy is making sure it meets nutritional standards. Many hospitals serve meals that contain processed foods and are high in sugar. The United States Department of Agricultural recommends that every meal includes fruit, a vegetable, a grain, and a protein. Hospital meals should use these suggestions as a foundation for creating meals.
While fresh fruit and vegetables are recommended, not every hospital has the budget to afford the amount of fresh produce needed to feed an entire hospital. In this case, canned or frozen can be substituted. Both of these options still provide enough nutrients. Protein options can be plant-based, seafood, or meat. The best meat options are unprocessed, non-fried lean cuts of meat. Hospital food that does not meet these basic recommendations is not healthy.
Work with Local Farms
The farm-to-table movement has become popular among restaurants where businesses promise better food because of fresher ingredients. This same philosophy can be applied to hospitals. Many hospitals have partnered with local farms to offer farm-fresh meals for patients, visitors, and staff.
Using locally grown, fresh produce is the best way to guarantee that hospital food is healthy. Farm fresh produce holds more nutritional value, is less likely to be frozen, and does not contain preservatives. Fresher produce can help patients recover faster and provides a basis for better eating habits.
Hospitals not only have a reputation for serving unhealthy food but they are also known for having unappetizing food. Both of these problems can be solved by hiring a team of professionals to develop a nutrition program that includes new food options. Many Hospitals have begun to hire chefs, nutritionists, and dieticians to help develop improved menus. Together, these professionals can use their skills to create better-tasting and more appealing food.
The need for nutritious and appetizing food extends beyond patients’ rooms. Hospital staff and visitors also depend on hospital food. Hospital cafeterias often fail to provide healthy food options. Hospital staff often won’t eat the food that is served in hospitals. As a solution to these problems, some hospitals have converted food-court-style cafeterias and cafes into restaurant-style eateries with healthier food options.
Hospitals have to cook large amounts of food. It is hard to accommodate the many conditions and nutritional needs of a hospital population. The best solution is to create a universal standard when preparing food. When planning a menu for a hospital, consider what nutritional needs will best suit patients, staff, and visitors alike. Preparing meals that are low-sodium, low-calorie, vitamin and mineral-rich that also include fresh fruits and vegetables can serve as the foundation for meal planning.
As more people become more health conscious, the hospital industry is beginning to develop new ways to improve food. There a many programs on the federal and local levels that are helping hospitals create new food and nutrients programs. Offering better food options in hospitals is a step toward improving the healthcare industry.