Why Does Hospital Food Have to Be So Bad?

I had to get home…to eat. An overnight stay at the hospital ended up becoming four days! The Rns, LPNs, Aides, and hospital doctors were great and worked with me to relieve the pain. But I had to eat. For the first time in my entire life I am being told, “Eat!”

Well, I would, if the food were edible. When I was taken off clear liquids (what can be worse?), I could have anything I wanted. Well, for the first meal I chose turkey stir fry. Now, most stir fry I have had is moist, has a sauce on it. Not this one…it was dry as the desert in July. I have a problem swallowing. If there isn’t a lot of moisture, sauce, or liquid to help the food go down, it just doesn’t.

So, for the next meal I ordered chicken tenders with LOTS of barbecue sauce. Lots of sauce. The chicken tenders got to my room. I was told, “We didn’t have any barbecue sauce so I got some catchup and mustard.” One packet of catchup and one packet of mustard! No, this does not work. By the time I looked at what was on the plate the person delivering it had disappeared, never to be seen again. First of all, one packet does not constitute LOTS of anything. Secondly, I really don’t like catchup. My aide got the chicken tenders and I had the yogurt.

I learned my lesson, I thought. For breakfast Sunday morning I ordered yogurt. The stipulation was, “No banana or banana flavoring.” It was even written on the slip. Guess what I got? Strawberry/banana. Thank goodness for the floor staff. The did a seek-and-find mission and found some plain strawberry yogurt.

Sunday lunch didn’t get any better. I ordered a tuna sandwich with extra, extra mayo. Tuna can be smushed up and the mayo will make it go down easily. Well, I got the extra, extra mayo. The delivery slip said it was tuna. It was the hardest tuna I ever saw. It was a diced chicken sandwich. Not only that, the white bread was dried out. There was no way that meal was going down my throat. I ate the peach yogurt. The delivery person offered to get me something else. By now I told them “No, I just have to get home to get something to eat.”

Hospital food is a common joke. But it doesn’t have to be bad. Several years ago I had to have my gall bladder removed in Sandy, Utah. Even their clear diet was good. I couldn’t get enough of their beef broth and chicken broth, which I generally don’t like, was good. I even got upset because they sent me home before lunch on the day I went home.

Is it any wonder that the procedure went well, the patient survived the operation well, but recovery was slow? Food is important to a recovering patient. Enough calories and protein for recovery are mandatory. Yet, for hospitals that have some of the best reputations in the nation have the worst food services. Come on, guys, edible food is not impossible in large quantities. The hospital in Sandy, Utah proves that.

So, I got transported home in the middle of a snowstorm. I got wheeled to my front door. And I headed for the kitchen cupboard. The canned ravolis were wonderful. There was plenty of sauce. They slid down easily. I had the first solid food in four days. I really did have to get home in order to eat.

One Response to “Why Does Hospital Food Have to Be So Bad?”

  1. TTJ Says:

    I agree — I’ve never had a good experience with hospital food. Although when my father was sick in Helena, Montana the food he was served at St. Peter’s Hospital was good and the staff was exceptionally good at making sure he got what he wanted. I hope your recovery goes well.

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