Friday, June 24, 2011

Rehab Food: Someone Please Rewrite the Menus!

School lunch cafeteria food! That's what it reminds me of. And if your school days were like mine, the food served was some of the worst the Federal Government ever concocted to follow the jacked up nutrition chart food pyramid that they have recently "revamped."  But how could such food really disturb the metabolisms of healthy, young children, especially if they are being well fed at home? Right? And kids can always bring their own lunches if they and their parents disapprove of the school lunches served. And for those who are on reduced lunch or free lunch, in many instances, those lunches are the best meals the kids have all day; that is a great tragedy, considering the nutrition level of the processed, non organic, pasty, preservative laden, artificially colored and flavored, highly caloric and carbed fatty items often served.

But what do you do if the menu items are the only choices offered and there is no recourse, no family member or friend to bring you more nutritious fare because you are too sick to go out and buy it yourself and your mom has long since passed away? Well, you grow weaker when you are supposed to grow stronger, your health doesn't improve like it should at "rehab" and your Medicare dollars (Medicare covers up to 30 days and afterword, you must pay 20% out of 100%. This is $141 dollars a day, currently in NYC.)) are spent before you are even beginning the rehabilitation process. And worse case scenario, you end up in a nursing home, never being released from a medical care facility and your assets are drained like a thief syphoning gas from your vehicle. And at some point the social worker will come after reviewing your financial records; they will chide you (and any family members present) for not properly preparing for this outcome at the finality of your life.

What a prospect! Well, it is one countless Baby Boomers may be facing in the next 50-60 years. If you are a Baby Boomer, this is an alert. If you are recovering from surgery or a fracture, etc., and need to be in a rehab and you are younger, it is still an alert. Don't expect especially nutritious foods; this would be too costly. Doctors above all know that the food served in hospitals and rehabs are pretty terrible. The hope is that you won't be there too long. And besides, the standard, mainstream medical profession's preparatory programs don't really involve in depth (years) education about food, nutrition and their impact on patient health and recovery.

To give you an idea about the food served recently at a rehab someone I know is in, here are the "Regular" menu choices for supper.

Lemon Dill Coleslaw (1/2 cup)

Entree: choose one
Seafood salad plate (3 oz)
Cheese Pizza

Desserts: choose one
Applesauce / Jello (1/2 cup)
Ice Cream (1/2)

Bread:  choose one
Soft Roll
White/Wheat/Rye (1 or 2)
Pumpernickel roll                                                                 
Tea/decaf coffee/Sanka/
Milk: Whole/Skim (4 oz)
Butter/Margarine/Creamer (1 or 2)

I don't see anything green, live or fresh. Do you? (except for the most nutritious item there and the throw-away item that no one wants, THE LEMON) And if the coleslaw qualifies, OK. But everything else? Lots of carbs there. Needless to say, the food brought in from the outside was the food consumed by this patient. With the exception of a few bites from the pizza and two fork fulls from the coleslaw, the tray picked up by the aide was practically full.

If you want to lose weight, rehab might be the place, but not if you are already thin. If you need to gain weight, preplan if you can, having your family-friend network bring in meals for you. That may be the only quality nutritious food you will receive during your recuperation at rehab.

Do you know of family or friends who have faced similar menus?

No comments: