Ever wondered where hospital food comes from and the process it takes to get to a patient’s table? I never did. Until I started my Food Service placement 4 weeks ago. I started, not knowing what to expect. I came out of it, with a renewed sense of inspiration and humbleness. Food Service is all about the processes starting from the cooking of the food, to the delivery of the meals to patients and everything in between. Doesn’t seem like much does it? I can tell you now, it’s no simple task. Particularly when you take into consideration catering for all patient’s special dietary requirement and last minute changes here and there. It all adds up.
This placement was such a unique opportunity to be amongst the Food Service team and see how the kitchen operates while also observing the wards. Something that caught me completely off guard was how passionate all the Food Service staff are. Some people may not think much of them. But I think an enormous wealth of them. They bring patients the simple joy of a hot meal and a friendly face that isn’t there to poke and prod them. Most importantly, their knowledge of food and various diet types is absolutely mind blowing. So next time someone delivers a meal to you in hospital, take the time to thank them for their hard work. They deserve it. They work as hard as any of us and sometimes barely get the recognition they deserve.
Another discovery I made on this placement was how dietitians within a hospital setting can help patients with diabetes. I have long believed that I would best put my dietetic skills to use within the community to influence change. But now I realise that there are more things that could happen within the hospital to make life a bit better for patients with diabetes. For instance, what is up with diabetic diets?! The evidence based guidelines clearly say we are able to eat anything, even nutella (but in moderation of course). For people with type 2 diabetes, it’s all about portion control and regular carbohydrate intake at each meal. For people with type 1 diabetes, it’s supposed to be a general healthy diet. The sort recommended to the general public. What exactly is a diabetic diet? Is it simply denying sometime a minuscule dessert and replacing it with low-joule jelly or fresh fruit? That’s just depressing that we aren’t allowed access to dessert. Surely in the grand scheme of things, this wouldn’t make a huge impact. When someone mentions to me ‘diabetic diet’, I instantly think of bland, tasteless and gross food. What’s wrong with normal food? It’s not like when I dine out, I specifically ask for a ‘diabetic friendly’ meal.
I wonder how many other people out there are thinking the same thing. I wonder how many people out there feels that this needs to change. It’s as if these people think we don’t know how to manage our own diabetes. We are the ones facing it, day in and day out. There is no rest from diabetes. Being told that we would be given a diabetic diet is like a slap in the face. It’s like saying ‘You don’t know how to manage your own diabetes, so we will prescribe you your meal’. No thank you.