Going to the hospital can be a scary time for anyone. Whether you’re going for an in-patient operation or just a quick out-patient procedure, we all appreciate feeling comfortable while we’re there. From the welcoming attitude of a nurse to a hearty meal, the hospital experience should always focus on a patient’s recovery.
Food is just one of the many factors that can affect our experience when we’re patients in a hospital, and it’s not just taste that matters. Nutrition can be a vital part of recovery, especially for patients following operations who desperately need protein and nutrients to speed up the healing process. In fact, it is so important that all modern hospitals now have teams of nutritionists and dietitians to help create meals designed to suit each patient’s needs to ensure they get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Recommendations are always changing, and menus differ from hospital to hospital, but a broad field of knowledge is vital if you want the best for patients. In a recent interview, certified Dietitian Erin McCarthy (MS, CSSD, RD, LDN) explained how in her role it’s essential to keep up to date on research, “but also be accepting of new data that is constantly emerging. You have to take many chemistry, nutritional chemistry and biochemistry courses throughout the years. It’s good to know the science behind the rationale of each nutritional recommendation.”
While all of these recommendations may go unseen to a typical patient, they all contribute to what goes on your plate during your hospital stay.
We in the US may know what to expect on a typical American hospital menu, but what about the rest of the world, and what can we learn from them? To find out, we collected data from hospital patient catering menus and government guidelines from countries all over the world, then recreated some of the main meals from each country to compare.
USA – Chicken pot pie, broccoli, chocolate chip cookie, coffee
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Wisconsin, USA)
UK – Cornish pasty, savoy cabbage, rice pudding, tea
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Leeds, UK)
Switzerland – Quiche, fig and walnut salad, éclair, apple juice
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Cully, Switzerland)
Germany – Creamed beef, peas and corn, strudel, bread
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Swabia, Bavaria)
Spain – Spicy sausage (chorizo) and pepper rice, fruit salad, orange juice
Source: Recommendations (Sistema Nacional de Salud, SNS)
Italy – Gnocchi with tomato sauce, water, fresh fruit (apple and plum)
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Turin, Italy)
Australia – Plum chicken, rice, chopped apple, cranberry juice
Source: Recommendations (Government of South Australia)
Russia – Buckwheat pudding, cottage cheese, coffee
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Voronezh, Russia)
Mexico – Omelet with tomato and pepper salsa, chopped papaya, water
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Mexican Social Security Institute)
Canada – Baked salmon, peas and carrots, corn, water
Source: Patient Catering Menu (Ontario, Canada)
Exploring different hospital meals around the world was exciting, but there’s nothing more exciting than traveling for your job! Check out our latest travel jobs, where you can do your own research (or should we say “tastings”?) of hospital meals. Start here to apply and take the first step!