Let Food be thy medicine — even in the hospital!

It has been busy around here and life is not always as you plan it or want it to be …..

I had just accompanied my beautiful daughter to her new home. Helped her as she settled and got ready to start a new life at university. We had some amazing days together and my heart was filled with of love, tenderness and tears, as Ihugged her goodbye and headed to the airport to fly home, without her.

Back home again, I was busy giving workshops and it was fun, I love it, I was busy preparing for another 4 workshops that were already booked. I was running my beautiful 10 morning k’s every other day.

IMG_5111

And then one day just after I had been out swimming in the lake, enjoying maybe the last swim this year — I got sick — really sick! And ended up being taken to the hospital in an ambulance! That, definitely, was NOT supposed to be!

I spent 4 intense days in the hospital, and gratefully I am now home recovering and feeling the strength and energy coming back. Wonderful!

But it definitely was not the food that healed me………..I know that for a fact. The doctors and nurses were absolutely incredible, they went out of their way to help me heal and feel comfortable. Amazing competent, warm and wonderful people!!

But the food……… that’s another very sad story!

During the 4 days, I was served 12 trays of food, each of them impossible to eat. I know I should be happy and grateful that I was served food at all ……. but honestly, it was the most unappetizing sad “food” I have ever seen in my life – I was chocked!

As a chef and a person who has been healed through food and lifestyle changes – I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking – why?

Food is so important for so many reasons!

Surely this can be done better!

Over and over again I was thinking how absurd it was that I was in hospital, a place of healing and there was no interest about the food. Fresh nourishing food is such a vital part in healing!

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates (year 431 BC!)

In those 4 days I did not see a single fruit or vegetable, never mind the fresh anything at all – no fresh fruit nor fresh vegetables – no – ZERO – none at all!

The food on the trays had perhaps never been fresh! Everything was processed and as far as I could judge, had nothing to do even with nourishment! And served in dull plastic containers on a dull plastic tray.

With a rumbling tummy and food fantasies on my mind, I talked to the nurse about the food – they said that over 70% !!! of all trays go back untouched!

70% -What a waste!!! What a shame, how sad, what a total missed opportunity!

We know that healthy food helps us heal faster, we know that healthy food has the potential to prevent disease. We know that sick people more than anybody needs nourishment.

We also know that a vast majority of diseases are caused and directly linked to unhealthy lifestyle and eating the wrong diet……..so why don’t the hospitals grab the chance and serve sick patients enjoyable, nutritious fresh food. Grab the chance to feed and inspire healthy living – and help the patients to heal themselves.

So why? …….. The argument is “It’s too expensive!”

But is it, really?

In Denmark, at one point in time, they went through the same gloomy experience! 40 tons of hospital food was chucked away every day, because it was so grim, no one wanted to eat it.

To change that, they employed professional chefs along with dieticians and they designed menus for people to enjoy, to look forward to every day and to help them heal faster!

Serving meals, 3 times a day became a thing of the past — because when you are sick you are not necessarily hungry on the dot. Instead every patient has a menu and a telephone. And when hungry, they simply take the menu, pick their fancy and call the chefs in the kitchen. The meal is then prepared, cooked from fresh natural ingredients and brought up to the patient. Nutritious, fresh, delicious — real food from real people – who care and love cooking!

What they found was, not surprisingly, that there was hardly any food waste, patients got well, out of bed and home faster, too.

And, it was not more expensive!

But unfortunately, it is in general the same story – no matter where you are in the world – hospital food has a bad reputation.

Hospitals around the world are missing a huge opportunity. Hospitals, our health care system, could be the greatest example of health! Show us how to enjoy food, teach us what to eat to stay healthy and nourished, the best food for our bodies – to assist us heal, to help fight disease and prevent it.

Great food in hospitals would not only help us heal, but it would also inspire us all to practice more healthy living when we got back home.

Imagine how we could assist the body in healing if we were served something like this:

Freshly squeezed carrots

Freshly squeezed carrots

Green smoothies

Freshly prepared green smoothies with fresh spinach leafs and juicy fruits

Creamy Raw Food Oatmeal

Creamy Raw Food Oatmeal, with almonds, dates and apple – a glass of freshly squeezed orange

Fresh fruits and veggies

Free access to fresh fruits and veggies

Crispy Spring Rolls

Crispy Spring Rolls

A bowl of freshly made tomato soup

A bowl of freshly made tomato soup made of REAL tomatoes

Instead of this –

Breakfast?

Jello for breakfast?

Lunch?

Lunch?

Not sure...

Not sure….

On the fourth day I cried…….

If we have to spend money – why not spend it well?

I know there are other places that have changed the concept of tasteless grey hospital food – and with great success – that’s here in Canada.

Listen to this inspiring talk by Joshna Maharaj – an amazing passionate woman who helped change the hospital food in Toronto.

Hurraaa for people like Joshna!

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27 thoughts on “Let Food be thy medicine — even in the hospital!

  1. My friend, I am so sorry you had to go through such an ordeal, I hope you feel much better soon! So busy and then this! Keep nourishing your wonderful self well 🙂

    Cheers
    CCU

      • Kære Anne! Sikken en sørgelig ting du har fået serveret. Ubestemmelige klatter af noget – jeg vil ikke engang kalde det mad. Du må simpelthen skrive dette indlæg til øverste ledelse på hospitalerne. Det er en meget vigtig pointe du har her! Kh Kirsten

      • Tak Kirsten, ja mon ikke – det slog alt, det er absolut det vœrste mad jeg nogensinde har fået! Man ved ikke helt om man skal grine eller grœde – jeg gjorde begge dele 🙂

  2. Glad you are feeling better. I’ve seen the hospital foods here in the US and it is a sad thing. I think not only do hospitals think healthy food is expensive, they might think it is too hard to produce for the patients, and they take the easy way out.

  3. Dear Anne, you had me worried with your story about getting sick 😦 Are you able to run your 10 kms again every other day? One more question – I am sure all your food is delicious and healthy, but why is your tomato soup orange? Is there some other ingredient in it ? Carrots perhaps?

  4. So sorry that you were ill and in hospital with only rubbish food to eat. It really doesn’t make any sense at all. One would imagine that they would give sick people, healthy food to help them get well and strong again. Hope you’re feeling much better now you’re back home and able to nourish yourself properly. xx

  5. I am so sorry to hear that you have been hospitalized & had to eat that bad typical hospital food! :’ yikes! 😦 You think that they want to get the patients better not worse,…!! x I hope you will be feeling better soon! 🙂 Hugs!

  6. Anne, how frightening for you – – very glad to hear you are back home and feeling better. Now: no more visits to the hospital!!
    I experienced the same thing during my brother’s illness. I was absolutely appalled with the food he was getting and this was at a top-notch cancer clinic known for an innovative “healthy” restaurant on its top floor. This is also a terrible problem at nursing homes. People are served eggs and bacon swimming in oil; white bread; processed meats; veggies cooked beyond recognition. No wonder many of us are chronically ill! I would love to see donations to clinics going to whole foods-based healing programs as a supplement to “traditional” treatment. Yay for Denmark!

    • Thank you dear Annie! No wonder many of us are chronically ill – so true!! But we don’t know what we can do, we think its all genes and bad luck – we become victims and think we just have to live with it. I know I did, for many years – until by luck, someone told me a different story and I went down another road.
      It’s hard to believe just how powerful food and lifestyle changes can be, until we try it.
      It breaks my heart to hear about the food your bother was served in hospital when he was so ill!!
      I dream with you of the day sick people are served delicious, fresh and nourishing food as a supplement to the traditional treatment! Include nursing homes in that dream 🙂

  7. That was a double setback for you: being ill and not getting the food you need to get better soon(er). The photos you showed are really unappetizing brrr. where the smoothies and fruit look healthy and good, they sparkle with energy.
    Hugs, I’m glad you are feeling better now. Have a healthy weekend x

    • Thank you Marion! The photos speak for themselves don’t they 🙂
      Healthy food for patients – it seems so obvious, but unfortunately its not what you see in most hospitals!
      Hope you are well! Hugs back to you 🙂

  8. Anne, good to hear that you are on the mend. And the food in Danish hospitals are definitely better. I had back surgery at a private hospital and was given a menu from a nearby gourmet restaurant and allowed to choose a three course dinner – and wine, had I wanted it. Amazing g food! When I’ve been in the hospital to hive birth, I’ve had access to a small buffet where one could choose between a couple of different meats, pasta, potatoes – and of course vegetables and salad.

    • Hi Chirstina – your experience in the Danish hospital sounds amazing – the way it should be! I hope one day this will be the way! It seems so crazy not serving fresh and nourishing food to patients!
      Thank you for visiting XXX

  9. Anne I am so glad you are okay. That is shocking news! I have to say, our trays in our hospitals are pretty incredible – especially when compared to that slop. They serve proper meals with real fruit and vegetables. We also get menus so we can choose what we get. I worked in a hospital kitchen for a while – very interesting! I had to mince whole turkeys for people who can’t chew. I completely believe in food keeping you healthy and fixing you if you break 🙂

    • Hi Cass – wow sounds like the food in the hospitals in your part of the world, is way better than the sad hospital food you see in most places. I totally agree with you – food can help us heal!
      I hope you are well!! XXX

  10. You are so right! Years ago I had a dear friend who spent many days in the hospital. I visited her often, and when I saw the hospital meals, I thought, “I hope I never end up in the hospital because I could not eat this way!” How sad. 😦

    • Thank you for your comment! You are right stay healthy and out of hospital – the food is the most terrible experience I have ever had!
      I really hope one day it will change – it seems so obvious that sick people more than anyone needs healthy nourishing foods to help them heal!

      • It does seem obvious, but for some reason it’s not. I read a quote from an expert once…I can’t remember who…but it went something like, “Why is it not considered radical to spend a lifetime on medication and in and out of hospitals, but making a diet change to whole foods is considered radical?” Strange.

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