I am amazed when I make rounds at the hospitals in the morning. Nutrition is completely ignored unless it has to do with the total number of calories or adequate protein intake. In the doctor’s lounge there is a daily buffet that rivals any cheap hotel. Sausage, gravy, cheesy eggs and waffles. There is a small usually untouched dish of oatmeal without the choice of fruit toppings. There is dairy milk and yogurt in the cooler and Fruitloop cereal and Poptarts on the counter. The buffet is decorated with a few green bananas and old apples. Next stop the nurses station. Styrofoam containers with fried potatoes, eggs and gravy line the counters where staff grabs a quick bite between caring for patients. Large soda drinks or Duncan donuts coffee drinks are also scattered around. As I go down my usual halls in the cardiac and stroke units I find plates of sausage, scrambled eggs and muffins. Waffles with syrup and the occasional 3 unripe berries and 2 bites of hard melon line the plates. Of course those with visitors often have McDonalds bags and Duncan Donut bags sitting on the tables. I have watched new nurses and technicians grow in mass as they work in this environment. Patients are ill and constipated and the food makes things worse.
So what is the solution. Begin by throwing out fast food chains and products. Vending machines should only have water. Keep fruits and salads available for purchase between mealtimes in the cafeteria. Offer an oatmeal breakfast bar with fresh ripe fruit, berries, nuts and seeds. Offer other whole grain cereals both hot and cold again with fruit toppings. Lunch and dinner should have menu selections that are healthy to educate people on good nutrition. Beans and rice and other whole grains. A variety of other vegetables and large salad bowls. People will eat it if it is there and good. There is no reason to offer greasy meat and buttery vegetables and processed foods. A juice bar should be available. This is just a start that could be easily implemented.