Since I’m relatively fresh out of a nutrition rotation (and also right in the middle of the holiday season), I figured I’d share 3 simple tips to make healthier food choices in the hospital!
(Alternatively, if you can make the time, you can opt to prepare your own meals beforehand so that you can (a) save money that can go toward your astronomical student loans, and (b) know exactly what is going into your foods!)
If you’re on an inpatient rotation, that’s undoubtedly where you’re spending the majority of your hours, so having the time to do that might be difficult. That’s where this will hopefully be helpful!
Build a balanced meal.
- Start with a (preferably lean) protein. It’ll help you to stay full for a longer period of time. [~25% of your plate]
- Add fruits + non-starchy vegetables–aka pretty much any veggie other than corn, potatoes, or peas. Just don’t drench your salad in dressing, or that defeats the purpose! Dietary fiber adds “bulk” that will help you to feel full more quickly, and will allow your GI tract to continue functioning properly. [50% of your plate]
- Fit your starches, healthy fats, whole grains, and not-so-healthy-everything-else into the last 25% of your plate!
Opt for steamed, grilled, or baked (vs. fried or breaded).
Baking and grilling are both dry-heat forms of cooking that don’t use very much added fat. Steaming and boiling are cooking methods that can soften some of the fiber content found in vegetables, thus leading to improved absorption of nutrients. Frying foods (especially deep-frying and pan-frying) tend to be less healthy since they involve submerging food into oil.
Drink water or coffee/tea without sweeteners.
Soda/pop and juice have lots of sugar in them–cut out the excess sweeteners by drinking plain water, tea, or coffee! If you find regular water to be too boring and/or tasteless, try experimenting with fruit-infused water to flavor it!