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I would like to discuss hospital cafeterias. I encountered one today that is dedicated to making new patients for the wards upstairs!


FaithManor
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Thankfully, all I needed was coffee and water. Otherwise, I would have only been able to choose between one poison and another or a banana or an apple.

 

There was a very pathetic excuse of a salad bar...all of the salad dressings came in packets - MSG, HFCS, Hydrogenated this and that - not one choice that didn't contain dangerous food additives.

 

Lots of things made of white flour and loaded in sugar, unless you wanted the sugar free version which had aspartame listed as the second or third ingredient!

 

Outside of the iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots and grape tomatoes, no other vegetables were in sight.

 

One could choose between breaded and deep fried fish or breaded and deep fried chicken breast for the main entree, and sides included french fries or deep fried mozzarella sticks.

 

Soda, monster drinks, etc. littered the place...the center of the cafeteria was devoted to chips, candy bars, and the like. If one was desperate, one could purchase 2 oz. of cashews for $3.00 and a V-8 juice for $2.50.

 

There was also self-serve pizza and hot dogs. I guess the yoplait yogurt and tiny containers of cottage cheese in the cooler were supposed to offset the other choices.

 

No calorie, or other nutritional info was provided. So, if it wasn't prepackaged so you could read the ingredients list, you had to ask. I had no intentions of eating in there, but felt the urge to annoy the entire staff by demanding specs on a huge array of cooked items. I think they hate me! LOL, I don't care. I wrote it down, took it upstairs, handed it to the surgeon, and asked him if this was a grand scheme to make sure they never run out of patients, or what. I found out he packs his lunch and had no idea what was being served.

 

Get this...my dad was in there for a lung biopsy to determine if he has cancer and is waiting for a triple bypass operation. They brought him a "breakfast sandwich" after the procedure. It consisted of an english muffin, with american processed cheese, topped with a large piece of ham, plus an egg, smothered in margarine (made them go check with the kitche - sure enough....margarine made from fully hydrogenated oil), and this just cracked me up....skim milk!!!! My dad chomped it down. I told the nurse that if she took my blood pressure it would probably be in the stroke zone. She said the staff packs their lunches because it would be so expensive to eat there everyday so they've never stopped to consider what kind of food is provided!

 

Yeah, I wanted to smack my head on the wall...she was a very nice woman and took excellent care of dad so I refrained from making such a scene, but it sure made my brain hurt on the inside.

 

This is in absolute STARK contrast to the facility that my mom was in two years ago for her hysterectomy. She had wonderful, absolutely healthy, tasty food. I ate in the cafeteria and when I expressed my gluten concerns, they were more than able to accomodate me...had a small kitchen off the main one that was GF and nut free. I had lovely baked fish, herbed chicken, veggie soups, steamed green beans, asparagus, baked potatoes, etc. For breakfast, I was able to have a veggie heavy omelet, ordering exactly which veggies I wanted and oatmeal was one of the main courses offered every morning.

 

Note to self, be very careful where you get hospitalized!

 

Faith

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When dh has 6 stents put in his heart, I was stressed beyond my ability to cope. The hospital cafeteria had the most wonderful macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake. I was grateful for the comfort food. Not healthy, but they call it comfort food for a reason.

 

The last three hospitals I have visited have all served very good tasting food. Some was healthy and some was not.

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The hospital I work at has the worst cafeteria food ever! They get too caught up in calorie counts and food labels to think about the quality of the food. I'll take REAL butter any day over highly processed "heart healthy" margarine, and don't get me started on the sugar free kick they've started down there.

 

We call it the crapeteria :ack2:

 

They also send my post surgical patients spaghetti for dinner ALL THE TIME! :svengo:

 

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We are often at our Children's hospital. I get a basket of food from home or elsewhere sent to tide us over. There is nothing healthy or good on the hospital menu. Even if it was o.k. to start with the heavy plastic dishes that everything is served in does this funky smell thing of bleach when you lift the lid off your child's plate. My son cannot eat anything after the smell wafts out.

 

Gluten free? You'll starve.

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Reminds me of the time my husband's grandfather was in ICU with complications from diabetes and heart disease and they were giving him sludge through a feeding tube that primarily consisted of hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. It also had artificial flavoring--I never did figure that one out.

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I've actually been pleasantly surprised at what I've been able to get at the hospital my mom works at/dad stayed at with his heart attack. They had mixed greens or spinach alongside their iceberg in the salad bar, and I was always able to build a healthy salad there. My favorite combo was the mixed greens, sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, sharp cheddar, and dried cranberries, topped with a grilled chicken breast. And I even was able to find a carton of milk. Not sure why I wanted milk so bad that one time, but sure enough, they had skim milk. :)

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The hospital I used to work at had okay food... nothing really healthy, but at least it was eatable. When I had my son, I was stuck with some kind of corn cereal and a small fruit bowl because that was all that they had that wasn't contaminated with gluten.

 

This time around, I've already told my husband that he is to bring good food to the hospital if we have to stay there for any meals. I don't even want to risk having to rely on what they have at this hospital.

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My dd was in for an overnight EEG...she has a milk allergy on her charts...when I called down for her food they told me she could have the cheese pizza...I hung up right then and called my husband to bring her food. Hospitals are not the place to eat for sure.

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I was on bedrest for two weeks in a nearby hospital when I was pregnant with my twins. The food was very bland and I wasn't even on any kind of restricted diet. I still get grossed out when I remember eating some asparagus and biting into a piece of the thick rubber band that you see around bunches of asparagus. Yuck. I couldn't handle eating hardly anything they brought me after that. I made dh bring me food.

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On the opposite end of the scale is the Cleveland Clinic which doesn't even allow McDonald's to sell McNuggets. Kind of annoying if you are trying to feed kids a quick lunch.

 

 

 

You can walk a block away from the Cleveland Clinic and find all kinds of fast food though!

 

My dad was in a hospital that was considered one of the top heart hospitals in the area and they had a McDonald's in the lobby. It always made us laugh because we wondered if they were trying to keep the hospital in business.

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I will say, the quality of that can vary. My last experiences with hospital food were when my children were born, both in the same hospital. They were, however, vastly different experiences. Some sort of revolution took place in that kitchen in the intervening seven years--it went from foul, greasy vegetarian broth (my mom had to bring in canned for me) and uninspired stereotypical hospital food of a predetermined nature, to a wonderful menu of healthy options for various diet restriction categories, all of it tasty, good quality, and healthy food (even the broth was tasty!) Patients could call in their requests and food was brought, like hotel room service.

 

Total night and day as far as the experience in that hospital in more than one way.

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We have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last two years. Ditto to everything you said about the cafeteria, but you forgot to mention the huge Bluebell icecream freezer next to each cash register.

 

When dh was in for his craniotomy, the ICU doctor told him the hospital couldn't accomodate his allergies (corn, wheat, beans, nuts) and dh would have to bring his own food from outside.

 

7dd had over thirty hospital stays the last two years and had lots of trouble with food since she won't eat typical child food (nuggets, pizza, hamburgers, poptarts, etc). She had to get a doctors order so she could order off a different menu. It appears that chicken caesar salads and fresh fruit are only for teenagers.

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Hospital food in our area - be it cafeteria menus or receiving it as a patient - is on the low end of any kind of quality evaluation.

It is nothing short of a miracle that we are still alive when we get done with it and it's probably a blessing in disguise that people get discharged so quickly - at least they can procure decent food for themselves once they are on the "outside" again.

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all the hospitals I have been in serve fantastic food. there is always a choice of a soup, 2 different meals, plus a vegetarian choice. you could also select a fruit/ salad platter. no idea about cafeteria meals. I think only the patents and possible staff get the meals. family and visitors go and find food somewhere else.

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When I was in hospital in London after giving birth to Calvin, the hospital food was really bland and low fibre - I definitely needed the roughage! Then I discovered that the Halal option came from the local Indian/Pakistani restaurant. So I ordered Halal and ate lovely chick pea and pulse dishes from then on.

 

When I had Hobbes, I was in a private hospital in Hong Kong that was catered by the Ritz hotel. Unfortunately, Calvin was missing me and I didn't stay around for long to enjoy it. Whilst I was in labour and couldn't face food, however, Husband ate very well....

 

Laura

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Yes, it REALLY varies. I've been in dozens of hospital cafeterias over the last ten years, and a handful were indeed beyond bad. One was so bad that I was bringing in food on an ongoing basis when a the doctor told me about a little deli that was tucked away in a far corner of the hospital campus. And the food there was outstanding, although the menu was limited to sandwiches and salads. They had organic and nitrate-free choices though. For whatever reason they were not allowed to advertise, but there was always a line of hospital employees and doctors.

 

The very best one is our local hospital. It is so good that it is very common for people to go out to eat there. They have organic choices and use local products where possible. Patients can order certain items off a menu any time of day, or you can take the regular meal service.

 

We go to a nationally-ranked medical center six or so times a year with a family member, and the food is decent there but no organic or local products. They at least always have a variety of healthy choices including a made-to-order salad and wrap line that I like.

 

So sometimes you win...

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The hospital where I used to live had an amazing cafeteria. They had a proper chef running it. However, the patient food was still the bland, nutritionless crap that is so typical of hospital food. When i had my first child, I had a c-section so had a longer stay. When released they gave me a prescription for iron pills because mine was really low. I tossed the prescription and went home and ate some real food instead.

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Your hospital is not alone. My husband works in a hospital and well, don't eat the eggs. Just don't. Is there a vomiting smiley around here?

 

 

 

Dh thought the scrambled eggs would be safe and ate them. Turns out our hospital uses an egg mix that is only part eggs. The other part is corn, soy, corn syrup, and lots of other yucky things.

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We live in a rather small town and our hospital cafeteria is awesome. I actually missed not being in the hospital for my last 2 babies because I missed out on the hospital cafeteria food. They have a 5-star chef working there and a huge salad bar with about 40 different fresh vegetables to choose from. They have frozen yogurt, good protein choices, smoothies, made-to-order dishes, and *awesome* cakes.

 

The OP's experience sounds awful!

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The food in the hospital is not determined by the surgeons or the nursing staff. I would write to the hospital administration. My dh's hospital has a wonderful cafeteria. We go there to eat when we are in the area.

 

I agree.

 

Let the surgeons cut and the nurses nurse.

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I agree. Food choices seem to be quite poor at many public institutions: schools, nursing homes, etc. I know some places are really trying to change (I know of many universities that are), but you'd think that a hospital, of all places, would make a point of serving healthy foods. One hospital my husband did rehab at had its own McDonalds. It was always PACKED with hospital staff.

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Sounds pretty typical. But what you have to remember is the bulk of the food prep is for patients and most patients, like most regular americans, will not eat healthy food except for the odd piece of fruit. They want stuff that is deep fried, fat laden, and sweet. Regardless of your dietary persuasion I think we can all agree that chicken deep fried in vegetable shortening, or a breakfast roll smothered in sugar glaze, probably is not the way to go.

 

But generally a person can usually scrounge up something healthy. When I filled out the food menus I always requested an extra piece of fruit, took the vegetarian dishes and sides, requested an extra vegetable side, and only ate the meat if it was poultry and not preserved or deep fried.

 

Remember Martha Stewart picked dandelion greens in prison to supplement the unhealthy prison food... we just have to be creative sometimes. :tongue_smilie:

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Sounds pretty typical. But what you have to remember is the bulk of the food prep is for patients and most patients, like most regular americans, will not eat healthy food except for the odd piece of fruit. They want stuff that is deep fried, fat laden, and sweet. Regardless of your dietary persuasion I think we can all agree that chicken deep fried in vegetable shortening, or a breakfast roll smothered in sugar glaze, probably is not the way to go.

 

But generally a person can usually scrounge up something healthy. When I filled out the food menus I always requested an extra piece of fruit, took the vegetarian dishes and sides, requested an extra vegetable side, and only ate the meat if it was poultry and not preserved or deep fried.

 

Remember Martha Stewart picked dandelion greens in prison to supplement the unhealthy prison food... we just have to be creative sometimes. :tongue_smilie:

 

 

Well, it's nice when one has an option. Dad was not given one. They told him he had to eat something before he left and this is what they brought. I didn't want him to have it and offered to go get something else, the nursing staff would not allow it.

 

While I get the fact that surgeons, nurses, radiologists, etc. do not have control over what is cooked, I think they should express a voice since they are responsible for patient care or give advice and education on health matters. There is something very wrong, IMO, with serving a man who is awaiting a triple bypass operation a breakfast sandwich laden with things he should not be eating and not blinking an eyelash at doing so.

 

If the medical profession wants Americans to start eating better, then a good way to begin is to NOT turn the hospital cafeteria into a glorified McDonald's and it is NOT to send hydrogenated margarine, ham that was so salty dad complained (he takes meds for high blood pressure as well), processed cheese slices, and white flour based english muffin which if it was the same brand that was being sold downstairs, contained HFCS.

 

It just surprised me that he, as a patient facing cancer and already suffering heart disease, was not offered the option of anything healthier. I was saddened that no role model of better fare was offered to the staff and visitors eating in the cafeteria. Especially, since I'd encountered such lovely, healthy, tasty, food at another hospital that was even attempting to accomodate celiac disease, and food allergies as well.

 

Thankfully, when I really needed to eat, there was an Asian restaurant down the street. I purchased brown rice, very tastily spiced, along with sauteed veggies that were equally as yummy. It was a rare treat eating that rice! I normally never indulge in grains.

 

Faith

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When I had my baby I went to the hospital at 2a.m. and had her at 10p.m. I was starving when it was over (regardless of the fact that I'd snuck in some yogurt and my OB had okay'd some beef broth while I was laboring. I asked if there was anything to eat and they brought me a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread and a bag of chips. I'm diabetic. Dh had to go to McDonalds to get me a salad. The next morning they brought me cereal, a sweet roll, bacon, and fruit. I'm diabetic. I asked for a lower carb meal. They brought me one egg and half a piece of toast. I'd just had a baby and was breastfeeding. Who were they kidding!? For lunch I had a piece of baked chicken and about 1/2 cup of broccoli and maybe the hardest roll I'd ever tried to eat. I thought I would starve before I got out of that place! The hospital my friend delivered at had steak for it's mama's after labor and a full on menu for the rest of the stay. If they had a better birth/labor policy and did not snatch your baby out of the room for hours at a time I would consider going there. I'm going back to Starve Me to Death Memorial hospital with this baby because of the policies/nurses/care.. not the food! :)

The hospital my mom was at had the worst cafeteria ever. They also had a deli tucked into a corner with some healthier options. I usually ended up eating there or going across the street to Publix for a sandwich and some fruit.

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The healthiest healthcare cafeteria we ever ate at was at the National Institutes of Health. Seriously, if you're ever in Bethesda and have the security credentials to get in...yummy!

 

As far as our local hospitals go.... our closest hospital has nasty, seriously inedible food.

 

I was on bedrest for a few weeks at a further away hospital with a antepartum ward and a high level NICU....the food was AWESOME and we had unlimited snacks. I looked forward to mealtime...which was good because the rest of the time I was watching bad cable, surfing the 'net, and staring at the walls.

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The healthiest healthcare cafeteria we ever ate at was at the National Institutes of Health. Seriously, if you're ever in Bethesda and have the security credentials to get in...yummy!

 

As far as our local hospitals go.... our closest hospital has nasty, seriously inedible food.

 

I was on bedrest for a few weeks at a further away hospital with a antepartum ward and a high level NICU....the food was AWESOME and we had unlimited snacks. I looked forward to mealtime...which was good because the rest of the time I was watching bad cable, surfing the 'net, and staring at the walls.

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When my dad had double bypass surgery at 49 after multiple stents the next morning in the cardiac care unit he was served bacon. Bacon! I asked his doctor if this was their idea of job security. He laughed and sent us down to the cafeteria where there was a "scrambled egg bar." One pan full of regular scrambled eggs and one pan full of scrambled egg whites and all kinds of things to mix into the eggs both healthy & unhealthy. We made him a plate with the egg whites, steamed veggies and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.

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Dh thought the scrambled eggs would be safe and ate them. Turns out our hospital uses an egg mix that is only part eggs. The other part is corn, soy, corn syrup, and lots of other yucky things.

 

 

Yeah, they are just awful. And improperly prepared. My friend spent several days in the hospital he works at. Ate the eggs on her release morning. Got sick at home from the eggs and had to head back to make sure she was ok. So the hospital eggs sent her back to the hospital. Nice, right?

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On the opposite end of the scale is the Cleveland Clinic which doesn't even allow McDonald's to sell McNuggets. Kind of annoying if you are trying to feed kids a quick lunch.

 

 

They might not have chicken nuggets, but when I was recovering from surgery there, everything they gave me to eat was processed crap with red food dye in it. The red jello and the hideous cherry frozen ice thing were the worst. The mashed potatoes and chicken broth were from granules. It was all really repulsive.

 

ETA: They kept telling me I could go home when I ate some food. I kept asking when they were going to bring some. :tongue_smilie:

 

I finally got my sister to bring me some boxed organic chicken broth from Trader Joe's and they weren't going to let me have it because the ingredient list mentioned carrots and celery and I wasn't supposed to have vegetables, yet. I had to explain to the nurse how broth is made.

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