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Monday, October 13, 2008

Food is Love


When our loved ones are ill, we want to comfort them. Food is often the way we try to heal others.

But, it is often this food that is killing them.

I find congestive heart failure patients whose families bring them soup. Soup is loaded with sodium and as a result worsens heart failure. Diabetics have sugary fruit juices on their bedside tables. And patients who just had heart attacks have fattening pastries.

One of the worst foods that I've found in patients' rooms is a Middle Eastern yogurt drink. I forget the brand name. A small twelve-ounce bottle contains 220 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 1200 mg of sodium. In one of those patients' rooms, I left a note for the family: "Please bring this drink home. It is bad for his heart and he should not drink it. Yours Truly, Dr. Shenkman"

I talk to my patients about nutrition. When they are in the hospital, I will often request a dietitian consultation. But it is often very difficult to overcome the cultural belief that comfort foods will heal when in fact they can harm the patient.
Image from www.isrealli.org

3 comments:

Christie said...

Is the yogurt drink a lassi? But then again, I think it might be Indian. I'm not sure.

Healthy Vegan Diet Fast Food Meal Menu said...

I find it surprising how many people aren't aware of how much food effects their health - even despite all the constant news coverage of food related illnesses.

Vegan Run Amok said...

I wonder whether maybe the desire to provide immediate comfort just outweighs the desire to promote long-term healing where the two are in conflict.

I know it would be time-consuming, but would it be possible for the dietician to create recipes for the families for more healthful versions of the comfort food in question? It seems like that might lead to better compliance than just telling the family that their relative can't have a certain thing anymore, period.