Hospitals are infamous for terrible food, but these offerings are nothing short of delicious
A sample of what's on the menu at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.
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!).
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Starting off the day with protein has been shown to help control appetite and calorie intake for the remainder of the day. Fill the protein portion of your meal with one whole egg and one egg white scrambled and made into an omelet with a half cup of sliced green peppers, onions and mushrooms that have been sauteed in a teaspoon of olive oil. Round out the produce section of your meal with one medium orange. For your starch, toast a slice of whole-wheat bread and spread with a thin layer -- about a half teaspoon -- of butter. Drink a large glass of water or a cup of unsweetened tea or black coffee to wash things down. This breakfast provides 295 calories.
Eating a Low-FODMAP Diet on a Plant-Based Diet
When you’re suffering from digestive issues, such as IBS, a low-FODMAP diet can bring you relief. However, you may be eliminating some extremely healthful plant-based foods from your diet on a low-FODMAP regime thus, missing out on the health and environmental benefits of eating the plant-powered way. So how can you manage a low-FODMAP diet with a plant-based approach, such as a vegan diet?
Well, we’re talking about just that on the blog today. I sat down with FODMAP and digestive nutrition expert Sarah Greenfield, RD, CSSD to talk about ways you can eat a healthy plant-based diet while managing digestive disorders. We dive into a thoughtful discussion on why digestive issues are more common today, how these disorders are affected by nutrition, and how to follow a low FODMAP vegan diet.
Eating a Low FODMAP Diet on a Plant-Based Diet
Sharon: What are some common digestive disorders people face today that are impacted by diet?
Greenfield: IBS, acid reflux, bloating, and SIBO are the most common digestive disorders I see in my practice. Eating a standard American diet will exacerbate most digestive disorders as this diet contains low amounts of fiber, anti-inflammatory fats, resistant starch and phytonutrients, all critical for optimal digestion. Making some minor changes to the diet, like including more variety of whole foods, can have a big impact on digestive health.
Sharon: How are these digestive disorders impacted by nutrition?
Greenfield: Anytime you have an imbalance in the gut, it will impact overall health. Not enough beneficial bacteria and you won’t be able to breakdown and extract nutrients from food, your body won’t make and respond to neurotransmitters appropriately, you can’t make adequate levels of b-vitamins and vitamin K. Your diet is critical to maintaining gut health. In order to maintain a healthy gut lining your body needs adequate levels of many different nutrients, especially vitamin D and zinc. Getting enough omega 3’s, 6’s and 9’s help balance inflammation. Fiber is a critical food needed to feed the bacteria in your gut and help them produce short chain fatty acids like butyrate which can help prevent colon cancer.
If you have a bacteria imbalance, or bacteria in the wrong area of your gut, the food you eat will play a critical role. Following a healthy diet will not be able to help decrease bloating if you have bacteria in your small intestines. Sometimes more fiber, fermented foods and raw veggies, all what I would consider part of a healthy diet, can exacerbate symptoms. When this happens its usually associated with SIBO and needs a special diet (low-FODMAP, GAPS or Bi-phasic) to help decrease fermentable carbohydrates and rebalance the gut.
Sharon: How can a plant-based diet be good for these types of disorders?
Greenfield: Plant-based diets are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients. Most people who follow a plant-based diet get well beyond 35 grams of fiber in their diet and are eating a range of different colored whole foods. This helps increase the diversity of the gut microbiome and improves regularity. Phytonutrients in whole foods feed different strains of bacteria, that is why it is so important to eat the rainbow on a daily basis.
Sharon: What is a Low-FODMAP Diet and what are the benefits?
Greenfield: A low-FODMAP diet decreases fermentable carbohydrates from the diet. The FODMAP acronym describes a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestines. There are five types of carbohydrates that are removed from the diet: lactose, fructose, polyols (mannitol and sorbitol), galactans and fructans. Foods that are high in FODMAPs pull water into the intestines and can lead to an increase in bloating and irregularity. Removing high FODMAP foods can help improve digestion imbalances especially in those who have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and IBS. Following a strict low-FODMAP diet is not something I would suggest for the long-term. Finding out what foods trigger you, why they trigger you and then building a more complex diet is the best for the long-term digestive health management.
Sharon: How can you follow a FODMAP friendly plant-based (vegan) diet?
Greenfield: It can be a bit more challenging to follow a low-FODMAP friendly vegan diet, but not impossible. Focusing on quality protein sources is the best place to start. Include proteins like tofu, quinoa, tempeh, lentils (1/2 cup), almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, sesame seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chickpeas (1/4 cup), green lentils (1/4 cup), lima beans. Sticking to the proper amount of these foods will ensure you are keeping FODMAPS on the lower end and supporting digestive health and healing.
Sharon: Which foods should you avoid on a vegan diet while following a low-FODMAP diet?
Greenfield: Staying away from high-FODMAP foods like sugar snap peas, artichokes, apples, pears, watermelon, mango, garlic, leeks, just to name a few, is a good place to start. I always suggest working with a nutritionist or dietitian that specializes in a low-FODMAP diet to help create meal plans and ensure you are following a balance diet while minimizing FODMAPs. Remember, this is not a long-term diet, the most restrictive phase usually lasts 2-6 weeks.
Sharon: How can people decide which plant-based foods to reintroduce after trying a FODMAP elimination diet?
Greenfield: There are several different ways to go about a reintroduction. The goal is to find which foods cause a reaction and continue to keep those foods out of the diet. You can retest the foods again after a couple weeks. The best way I like to re-introduce foods, is to pick one group of FODMAPS per week to challenge. You will try one food per day from the group and test it for 3 consecutive days during that week.
For example, if you choose to test fructose you would reintroduce one tsp of honey and increase to 2 tbsp if you didn’t experience a reaction. You could then try ¼ cup of mango and increase to ½ cup if you experience no reaction. If you start to experience symptoms, stop the food reintroduction and give yourself a 3-day washout period. You can begin introducing foods from other categories.
Once you identify which foods are reactive and which are safe, you can then begin adding them back into your diet.
It is helpful to work with a dietitian that knows FODMAP reintroduction and can help make this process easier to follow and organize.
Sharon: What does a day worth of eating a low-FODMAP vegan diet look like?
- 2 slices of gluten free bread with 2 tbsp of almond butter + 1 banana
- Smoothie: 1 cup mixed greens, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tbsp peanut butter, ¼ cup strawberries, 1 banana
- Quinoa + lentils with a side salad of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes
- Sushi with brown rice, tofu, cucumber and carrot with a side of peanut butter and lime dipping sauce
Check out some of my IBS-Friendly, plant-based recipes below:
For other blogs on eating for IBS, check out these:
About Sarah Greenfield:
Sarah received her Bachelor of Science from the Pennsylvania State University in Nutritional Science and moved to Los Angeles where she became a dietitian. Working as part of an integral care team in the ICU, trauma centers and digestive health clinics opened her eyes to the power of human physiology. One of her most valued accomplishments in the healthcare setting was starting a garden at St. Francis Medical Center that allowed the hospital to provide low-income families with locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Transitioning from healthcare into prevention-focused nutrition, Sarah began studying functional medicine, running marathons and creating programs for large wellness brands like NutriBullet, Dr. Hyman, and HUM Nutrition. She even had the opportunity to speak on the same stage as Bill Clinton and was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt about a wellness program she created to transform children’s health called NutriBullet University.
With all of Sarah’s program experience, it was time to create a platform to bring all these tools together, which is how her website, Fearless Fig, was born! Through Fearless Fig, she helps her clients change the way they think about health, identify root cause of health imbalances and provide the education and tools needed to make a long-lasting change. Through her work, Sarah has been featured in Men’s Health, Self, BuzzFeed and just gave her first TEDx talk! Follow Sarah on Instagram and Facebook to see her latest updates.
Why You Should Eat Local Even Though It Can Be More Expensive
There’s a funny phenomenon when you walk into a supermarket. Look at the produce section. Look hard. What do you see?
Well, other than the unnaturally shiny apples or the perfectly shaped pears, that is. Take a look at the produce stickers, at where your produce comes from.
You’ll see avocados from Mexico, bananas from Costa Rica, fish from China. And if there are fruit or vegetables that are locally grown, I can almost guarantee that they’re more expensive than the ones that are imported.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on flickr.com
I ran into this phenomenon in various places. If you’re a budget shopper, you won’t notice, because you’re just putting the cheaper product into your basket. Not that I blame you for that.
But listen to this: at home in California, where we’re literally surrounded by avocado groves, it’s cheaper to buy avocados from Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Dawn Huzeck on flickr.com
While on vacation in Hawaii, where there are tropical fruits galore, all the cheapest produce was imported. I went on a quest to buy local produce, and found it either unavailable or terribly overpriced.
At school in Boston, I wanted to buy apples in October and found that though there were apple orchards within twenty miles of the city, it was cheaper to buy apples imported from Washington.
Why was this happening? I didn’t understand.
It took the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and re-remembering my high school AP Econ class to realize what the problem was. It can be summed up in three little words: economies of scale.
Now for those of you who aren’t econ or business majors, economies of scale is simple. It’s why you buy bulk goods for cheap from Costco instead of smaller goods with a higher price tag from your neighborhood grocery store. Basically, the more of something a manufacturer can produce, the most the cost of production goes down. And for the consumer, that means they have to pay less money.
Photo courtesy of @afapracing on Instagram
This is why large companies succeed where small farms struggle. This is why we get produce imported thousands of miles from across the country. Yes, to meet our demand for avocados or watermelon in winter (I’m guilty of this) and pomegranates in summer, but also because it costs less for a large scale manufacturer to grow and sell this produce than a small, local farmer.
Funny, though — the local farmers are the ones that need the money more.
It’s a vicious circle we continually run into: we want to buy local, but we also want to maximize our dollars. So this means buying cheaper produce, but that’s not buying locally. And all the money is going to large manufacturers and supermarkets, not the local farmers. So the local farmers are forced to keep their higher prices in order to make money. But then we don’t buy their product because it’s expensive.
Photo courtesy of lancasterfarmfresh.com
Is this a problem I think I can solve? No, not by myself. Is this a problem I think college students should be aware of? Yes, absolutely.
More and more restaurants are jumping on the local bandwagon, with high-end restaurants highlighting seasonal produce and with popular chains like Sweetgreen showcasing which farms their ingredients came from.
Photo courtesy of Chris C on yelp.com
But change also starts with us, with the choices we make. Yes, you might want watermelon in December. But think about where that watermelon came from and how many miles it traveled to reach you. It likely won’t taste as good as a summer watermelon, grown in the right season.
Eat seasonally, eat locally, eat whole foods. It’s a simple mantra, but one that’s rather difficult to keep up with on a college budget. If you’re anything like me, you live off of those plastic wrapped veggies from Trader Joe’s.
And that’s the whole problem with our food system right now. Yes, it can be fairly easy now to eat healthy for cheap. But if you want to eat socially responsible food, if you want to know where your food comes from and support the people who grow it, then the cost goes up.
But if you have the money to spare, this is where you should spend it. Instead of going out for dinner, why not browse your local farmers’ market and make yourself a feast?
So do it. Find a farmers’ market, make friends with your local farmers, and ask questions. Ask where your food comes from. Educate yourself. Learn. I promise, you won’t be sorry.
You’ll learn more than you thought. At the Boston Public Market, I met a lady who uses solar energy to grow vegetables, even in the dead of winter. Yes, she grew cabbages during our very real Snowpocalypse last winter.
There are people who catch their own seafood, whose chickens run happy and free, who know more about their vegetables than I have ever known about anything in my life. These people are happy to tell you their stories, happy to share with you their expertise, and sometimes, even happy to give you free food.
One vendor insisted I sample his homemade black bean soup (“I need to make sure it’s good!” he proclaimed), and when I tried to buy the ingredients to make it at home myself, he ended up just giving me the ingredients for free.
Experiences like these make me believe that supporting local farmers goes beyond just buying local food. It’s building a community, supporting a community, and investing in that community.
So even though you may pay a little bit more to buy local, you’re really paying for something more than just food — you’re supporting your local farmers, you’re cultivating a relationship with these farmers, and you’re learning more about the community that you live in. And you’ll learn with time that as you build these relationships and learn the secrets of a farmers’ market, you may end up spending far less money than you’d expected.
I challenge you think more about your food. Not only about where it comes from, but the whole process involved in it. From how and where it’s produced, to how it gets to your plate, to who makes the money off the food, to how it nourishes your body, there’s a whole circle of that many of us fail to see. Because food is more than just sustenance. It’s a choice you make and a choice that impacts others.
"Eat only one food."
Remember the grapefruit diet? Or the potato diet? Or any diet that told you to eat just one food? Monotrophic diets—those that advise sticking to a single food or food group—have been around for ages. The idea goes that you can only eat so much of any food before getting so bored you'll basically stop eating altogether.
It doesn't sound like a recipe for a healthy relationship to food, says Gabriel. And it sure doesn't sound like fun!
"This pushes a person into eating disorder territory, in my opinion," she says.
Meanwhile, if you go too long without a varied diet, you're more likely to end up in the hospital than in a bikini competition.
"Eating only one type of food for an extended time period will make you deficient in other nutrients your body needs. Eventually, this could result in life-threatening illnesses," Gabriel says.
25 Recipes That Prove Vanilla Bean Is Worth The Splurge
There's a pretty steep price difference between vanilla extract (especially if you make your own) and a whole vanilla bean -- pod and all. An ounce of extract costs roughly 80 cents where a bean is closer to to three dollars. In many cases where vanilla is called for, opting for the less expensive of the two is a wise choice. Vanilla beans would be almost wasted on chocolate chip cookies. And pancakes don't really deserve them. But in a batch of homemade ice cream real vanilla beans can make a world of difference.
Some recipes just yearn for the subtle flavors that only a vanilla bean can offer -- and the pretty black specks that let people know this is something extra special. Those are the recipes we've gathered here for you below. From homemade donut glazes to panna cottas to French madeleines, here are 25 times vanilla bean was worth the splurge.
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Our Texas based eating disorder treatment center has been in operation for 25 years. During this time, Walker Wellness has helped thousands of courageous adults, adolescents and children, successfully overcome the devastating effects of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder compulsive overeating and emotional distress. What sets us apart from other facilities is our unique ability to provide totally individualized treatment, specifically designed by our treatment team for each client. We believe there is no “typical” client, and that complex issues have unique solutions. Group based treatment programs are ineffective for long term eating disorder recovery because crucial issues are not adequately addressed. Thus, leaving the patient vulnerable for relapse (the highest risk four to nine months after treatment). Additional benefits of individualized treatment are flexible scheduling (so treatment doesn’t interfere with busy lifestyles), and patient/parent collaboration. With our extensive variety clinical services, facilities at Cooper Aerobics Center and highly experienced clinicians, Walker Wellness provides superior care for those struggling with an eating disorder.
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Aftercare Following Treatment at an Eating Disorder Center
Eating Disorder Hope believes that aftercare is very important to the ongoing recovery work of an individual released from inpatient, residential or intensive outpatient treatment. It involves have a therapist and nutritionist to meet with regularly, in order to monitor behaviors and work through issues as the individual adapts back to their normal life outside of treatment.
In addition to the treatment team, it is often recommended that an individual develop an aftercare plan that also includes group support in the community. There are many organizations that provide free groups to help eating disorder sufferers stay on the road to recovery and/or recover from relapse. A few excellent organizations worth checking out are Eating Disorders Anonymous, ANAD and Overeaters Anonymous. With our Top Eating Disorder Treatment Centers database, you can find the care you need for yourself or a loved one.