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The ‘Skinny’ On Hospital Food

The ‘Skinny’ On Hospital Food

Dear Sean,

Confession: I’m a new nurse and can’t seem to get into the habit of prepaaring my lunches from home. I always end up eating in the cafeteria and I’m gaining weight! I know different hospitals probably offer different selections, but what would you recommend for a healthy, FILLING lunch that will get me through my entire shift? I’m a pretty picky eater so unfortunately I always reach for my go-to’s and they’re always carbo loaded!!

Cafeteria Girl

Dear Cafeteria Girl,

Yes, of course that pun (in the title) was intended. And no, eating hospital food is not the way to become skinny (at least not all by itself)! So the question remains, if I am going to eat the cafeteria food offered at the hospital – what are my most health-conscious choices?

First of all, I think you know how I feel about eating in the cafeteria. So let’s just assume you didn’t have the time to properly prepare for you day at work, and of course ya gotta eat. So what can you eat from the cafeteria that won’t wreck or sabotage your good-intentioned healthy eating habits (you notice I didn’t use that dreadful word diet).

First things first, most of your food choices aren’t what I’d consider ‘healthy’, so in my opinion it’s all about the lesser of many evils. Almost all the food offered is either processed, pre-packaged, or worse yet -has been sitting out in the ‘food bar’ for who knows how long! (Need I remind you of your microbiology education and what happens to food when it sits out for a long period of time; Regardless of the temperature!)

Now, there are exceptions and this is mostly determined by the hospital setting and size. I’ve worked in large urban hospitals where their cafeteria puts most restaurants to shame. They had a cornucopia of food choices, and the majority of the food was freshly made daily! On the other hand, small-town community hospitals don’t have much in the way of variety. You get the ‘du jour’ menu with the options of a salad/ soup bar that comes with the ‘pre-packaged’ or ‘yesterday’s’ sandwich wrapped up and thrown in the fridge as your alternative food item. In any case the larger the hospital usually lends to more options and variety.

So here’s the ’skinny’ on cafeteria food choices:

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