In many countries patients and their relatives retain considerable responsibility for feeding themselves in hospital. While bringing cooked/prepared food in is neither expected nor generally possible in the UK principally because of concerns over food hygiene expressed through the Food Safety Act 1990, it is nonetheless good if the patient and their relatives take a positive approach to improving their nutrition. How?
- Know your weight and height when you go into hospital and think what your usual weight is.
- Make sure someone weighs and measures you when you are admitted to hospital.
- Tell the hospital about your dietary needs and cultural preferences
- Be aware that good nutrition speeds recovery
- Know that illness changes appetite and taste
- If you are not eating enough tell your nurse or doctor
- If you’ve lost weight think about drinks and snacks at home as well as in hospital: milk, cakes biscuits for example. Good nutrition shouldn’t stop when you leave hospital.
- Visit http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/ but remember that when you’ve lost a lot of weight “healthy eating” may not be your major priority at first.
- Sometimes people need artificial feeding via a feeding tube placed through their nose into the stomach. Sometimes people need to be fed through a vein. Your hospital should have specialist services organised to supervise these procedures efficiently. Ask about them.