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Healthy eating in the hospital

Healthy eating in the hospital

Food is one of the most important contributors to our general health and wellbeing, and the hospital is a place where that couldn’t be highlighted more. In the hospital your diet is a crucial part of the treatment process when recovering from an illness or injury. The Victorian Government’s Better Health website suggests that regularly eating and drinking in hospital can be as important to your health and wellbeing as taking medication.

We will take a look at why a healthy diet is important in the hospital and share some of the best foods to eat to ensure a swift recovery during your stay.

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Why should we eat healthy in the hospital

Healthy eating and drinking will always play a key role in any type of recovery. The benefits of healthy eating are well known, but in the hospital it can often be taken for granted.

Benefits of healthy eating in the hospital

What eating the right foods can do for your body.

  • Boost immunity
  • Improve skin quality
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Provide important vitamins and nutrients
  • Improved mental health
  • A faster recovery

Disadvantages of eating poorly in the hospital

What a poor diet in the hospital can do.

  • Weight and muscle loss
  • Reduced strength and mobility
  • Skin damage
  • Low energy
  • Longer healing and recovery time

The best foods to eat in hospital

Many foods have been shown to help promote healing and recovery. The following foods are an excellent choice to include in your diet while in hospital.

  • Leafy Green Vegetables: Spinach, kale and cabbage are loaded with nutrients that help decrease inflammation, promote immune function, and speed up the healing of wounds.
  • Eggs: Packed with protein and essential vitamins they are a great way to help meet your daily nutritional needs which are essential during your time in hospital.
  • Salmon: A great source of protein and full of the right kinds of fats. It is especially rich in omega-3 fats, which helps enhance immune response, promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Berries: One of the great superfoods and brimming with nutrients that can help support the body’s recovery process. Berries are high in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, and can provide anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune supporting effects to the body. Some of the most healthy and delicious berries include blueberries, strawberries and cranberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, cashew and sunflower seeds are great to have on hand during the recovery process. Nuts and seeds provide plant-based protein with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that support healing and immune health.
  • Poultry: Chicken and turkey are high protein foods, which can play important roles in wound healing and a functioning immune system.
  • Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and kale all contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help prompt immune health. They are also rich in C and B vitamins, which the body craves during recovery.
  • High carb food: Wholemeal breads, grains and vegetables such as sweet potatoes are important for recovery. A carb-rich diet provides energy to the body’s cells and also the enzymes required to aid wound repair and optimise immune response.

The worst foods to eat in hospital

As with any healthy diet, there are foods that you should avoid while in hospital, especially when recovering from an injury or illness. Not only are they bad for you in general, but a lot of these foods increase inflammation, which is what we are trying to avoid when we are recovering from an illness.

Some of the worst culprits are often the easiest and most convenient options like fast food and snacks between meals.

  • Fried food
  • Processed meat
  • Sugary sweets
  • Take-away food

Staying hydrated in the hospital is important

Being in the hospital for extended periods can be dehydrating. The air is more likely recycled than fresh, which means maintaining the right amount of fluids and minerals is essential. Dehydration can lead to tiredness and a loss of strength and stamina. Try to avoid caffeine and drinking carbonated drinks like soda and energy drinks.

What to drink while you are in hospital

  • Water: is of course the best source of hydration. It is the chest and most readily available
  • Supplements: Hydralyte is great to drink when you are in hospital. It helps replace fluids and
    minerals and prevents dehydration
  • Teas: are calming and hydrating if you want to drink something warm
  • Low sugar juices: are hydrating and offer something a little sweeter

The hospital food is good for you

Hospital food often carries a bad reputation, but it’s actually not true. In general, hospital meals are designed for the patient’s benefit to be healthy and nutritious, giving the patient what they need for good health and recovery. Most hospitals have a menu system where you have options to choose from and most of the food is prepared with care and tastes good. It is worth talking through the menu with the hospital staff if you have dietary requirements and any specific eating habits. Most hospitals also have dieticians on staff that can assist you with any questions you might have.

Can you bring your own food into the hospital

It is important to check with hospital staff before you bring any food into the hospital yourself. You may be craving something you haven’t had for a while. Or your family or friends might want to bring in a special treat for you while you are in the hospital. Before this, however, you will still need to get the all clear by hospital staff. There are often food safety rules in hospitals and there may be things you can and can’t eat because of your condition. So always check first.

The importance of maintaining good health while in the hospital can not be underestimated. Not eating properly or drinking enough fluid will slow down your recovery. The better you look after yourself in the hospital through healthy eating means the sooner you will be back on your feet and able to eat the food you love most. Whilst we have provided a practical guide on what to eat while in the hospital, please follow the dietary recommendations your health care professional gives you.