The Health Ministry has issued for the first time uniform standards for food served in Israeli hospitals, aiming to guarantee that patients receive more wholesome and tastier meals.
The quality of food served in Israel’s hospitals has a bad reputation among anyone who has ever been hospitalized in the country, causing many patients to turn up their nose at the sight of the trays placed in front of them. Now it turns out that not only is hospital food not tasty, but it is also not very nourishing.
An inquiry conducted by the Health Ministry three years ago revealed that 40% of hospital patients are at risk of developing malnutrition during their hospitalization period, which could increase the chance of sudden death.
The most common explanation provided by patients asked why they lost weight during their hospitalization that they were unable to finish the food on their plates.
In surgical and heart wards, for example, less than half of the patients reported finishing their entire meal. In the general surgery unit in one of the examined hospitals, not a single patient managed to finish the breakfast served to them. One can only imagine the reason.
Now the Health Ministry has decided to take a significant step towards improving the quality and taste of hospital food. A memo released by Health Administration Director Prof. Arnon Afek determines that hospitals must ensure reduce the quantities of salt and oil in their menus and serve wholegrain bread.
In order to encourage patients to eat, Afek recommends giving them the option of choosing from a number of menus.
According to the new instructions, which will take effect on July 1, the daily menu of hospital patients who do not require a special diet will contain 1,800-2,000 calories. About 50% of the calories will come from carbohydrate, 15% from protein, and about 35% from fat.
Each patient will receive up to 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day through the food (not including one egg a day), and 75-90 milligrams of vitamin C. The menu must include about 25 grams of dietary fibers.
Patients will be able to order a vegetarian menu or any other special menu according to the instructions of a dietician.
So what will patients be able to eat in hospitals soon?
Breakfast will include fresh vegetables in a variety of colors, whole-wheat bread, challah, eggs in different forms, white cheese, cottage cheese, olives, tahini, oatmeal and jam. Fruit will be served at around 10 am.
For lunch, nurses will serve a variety of soups, including chicken soup (without soup powder), bean soup or vegetable soup. For main course, patients will be able to choose between grilled chicken, fish fillet, pot roast or fish cakes, in addition to cooked vegetables, fresh vegetables and a side dish such as baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, couscous, bulgur or buckwheat. Fruit will be served for dessert.
Dinner will comprise of whole-wheat bread or challah, a selection of cheese, yogurt, fresh and cooked vegetables, different kinds of quiches, and a variety of spreads: Tahini, avocado, hummus salad and eggplant salad.
If they’re still hungry, the night meal will include biscuits, crackers, fruit and cakes made of wholegrain flour and canola oil – for example, carrot cake, apple cake or cheese cake. Coffee will be served with whole milk.
The Health Ministry has also decided that hospitals must use low-fat poultry and fish products, and dairy products containing up to 5% of fat. Ready and processed food like schnitzel and meatballs may be served to patients just once a week. Bon Appetite!
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