When faced with the prospect of an extended hospital stay, there’s not much worth looking forward to, if anything at all. There are the needles, the shared rooms, the backside-baring gowns (brr!), the sight of things you were hoping not to see, and the general desire to be anywhere but there. And adding insult to injury? The uninspired, seemingly cardboard-derived food.
The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine published a 2011 study analyzing food served at more than 110 hospitals in all 50 states and determined that many hospitals were serving foods that were "high in fat, cholesterol, calories, sugar, and sodium." Many of these hospitals also have fast-food chains right in the building, like Chick-fil-A and McDonald's, with items such as chicken wings, quesadillas with bacon, country-fried steak, and fried chicken on patients' menus. Although admittedly some of these choices sound more appealing than mushy meatloaf and watery Jell-O, they are certainly not the nutritious, well-rounded meals recovering patients require. While it’s great to pique a patient’s appetite, there has to be a better way.
But it appears that change is a-comin' for hospitals nationwide. Many are teaming up with nutritionists and classically trained chefs to slim down dishes and revamp menus to include healthier, more appealing options. Some are even classing up their cafeterias so much, patients have to pay extra for it! Whether it’s Stanford Hospital’s hi-tech ordering system through room TV’s, Fauquier Hospital’s local organic menu, or the coffee-crusted prime rib at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, it’s clear that hospital food has moved on from Jell-O.
Read on to find out why you might soon find yourself catching lunch at the hospital café (and for some great recipes, too!).