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Diabetic Diet? No way!

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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.Β 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.

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

8 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Here, here! I protest against the “diabetic diet” too… well said, Ash πŸ™‚ No one likes to get slapped in the face, do they?!

    Reply

    • Thanks πŸ™‚

      And yes, no one likes to be slapped in the faced nor should they deserve it after being told to go manage their own diabetes but have that taken away from them when they’re in hospital. Not cool!

      Ash

      Reply

  2. Love this Ashley!

    I worked in food service for many years, and still have great memories of the lovely staff I was a part of. I also felt very guilty as you say; ‘denying sometimes a minuscule dessert and replacing it with low-joule jelly or fresh fruit!’ there’s definitely alot of confusion that goes on in that area.

    Good luck with the rest of your placement πŸ™‚

    Reply

    • I believe that’s not so much the food service assistant’s fault per say. They end up becoming the middle person and get blamed for it, which is really unfair!

      Thanks for the well wishes and nice words πŸ™‚

      Ash

      Reply

  3. I have had 2 overnight stays in hospital in the last 15 years. At one hospital I got an “unrestricted diabetic diet” it was horrendous, dinner had NO carbs at all-I ordered minestrone but it was orange water with 1 kidney bean, 2 peas and 1 piece of carrot (seriously I counted them) and breakfast was a piece of cold white toast (white bread is horrible for my bsls). The other stay was awful because everything was high carb, white bread sandwiches, pasta and a sugary dessert. Seriously, do dietitians know anything about diabetic diets (the answer is no according to my endocrinologist)

    Reply

    • That’s really interesting to hear! The diabetic diet at the hospital I did a brief placement took away certain items such as juice and normal dessert. There were low joule jelly or fruit available instead. But there were no restrictions with mains and soups involved. And it was super regulated by dietitians only because there was immense pressure from the endocrinologists!

      I’m sorry you had a terrible food experience at hospitals. It sounds as though that hospital has pretty terrible food in general anyway! Trust me, there are dietitians and endocrinologists out there who know their stuff but there will also be those who are textbook black and white, which is where we suffer as a consequence.

      Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

      Reply

  4. I was hospitalized last March for leg surgery. I asked for a diabetic meal. It happened that my first meal was breakfast after my surgery. I had several hours of fasting before and after surgery, so I was looking forward to breakfast. I got bread, a small bowl of rice, a small bit of fish and 1 egg. I thought there was a mistake. When I asked, I was told that a diabetic meal (at least in that Japanese hospital) meant half the portion of an ordinary meal. At least they gave me fish and egg.

    Reply

    • Hi, thanks for sharing. That’s really interesting to hear what international hospitals serve as ‘normal’ hospital diets and ‘diabetic diet’! Particularly with the varying cultures.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Reply

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