This month, the lovely Carla Thomas has put together a wonderful post with some fantastic ideas about food and staying nourished when you find yourself in a hospital environment.
A big, huge thank you to Carla for sharing all of these wonderful ideas!
Simple tips to stay nourished in hospital by Holistic Health Coach, Carla Thomas
We all have the best intentions when it comes to making good nutritional choices while spending time in hospital. But sometimes things don’t go quite to plan. Maybe labour comes on earlier than expected or there are complications with you or bub or both, meaning an unexpected extended hospital stay.
While I’m not a mother myself (yet), I have seen family and friends experience situations like this, and the angst and juggle and just pure stress of it all is enough to put nutrition on the bottom of all our lists. But it’s exactly at times like these when we need to give our bodies and minds the best possible chance at staying strong, and nutrition plays a massive role in that.
So, in writing this blog, my aim is to give you a few simple tips about some food to pack and ask visitors for, and more than anything, to keep itsimple. I thought about the simple things I did for my sister when she had her son Louis via an unplanned C-Section and eight-day stay in hospital. I also thought about how I kept my husband nourished while recovering from bowel surgery earlier this year (that was a two-week hospital stay plus extended recovery time at home). As a Holistic Health Coach, I know the importance nutrition plays not just physically but for our state of mind, too.
So, whether you are reading this as a new mum currently experiencing an extended hospital stay for you or bub or you have somebody in your life going through this, here are some simple tips to help you get nourishing food in.
Fruit & Vegetables:
We all know the importance of getting our fruit and veg and yet most adults struggle on a day-to-day basis, let alone during times like this. Keeping up energy and immunity for both mum and bub is SUPER important so really think of wholefood loading vs. just food loading. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Get visitors to bring you chopped veggie sticks and dip, some fresh fruit, a salad even with some protein and good carbs, a veggie-packed smoothie (heaps of recipes in my book The Juicy Movement: A Holistic Approach to Clean Living and also some free on my website), an array of nuts and seeds and some avocado on crackers or toast make a great grab n’ go or standing meal. Friends and family often mean well when bringing cakes and cookies and muffins etc. but that might ultimately be the one thing a new mum eats that day and, unfortunately, it’s not what’s going to offer health and strength to either mum or bub. If you do crave something sweet from the hospital cafeteria, try and opt for yoghurt and fruit or get visitors to bring you some healthier raw treats or some dates and nuts.
These are really immune boosting because they are good for the gut – and we all know the gut is literally at the centre of everything to do with our health. It’s also our second brain so it’s supporting our mental wellbeing, too. So, ideas for these are kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi. There are recipes for both kefir and kombucha in my book, or all the above are available at good health food stores and specialty grocers. Just be sure to read the labels and choose wisely!
Supplement your diet:
No matter how healthy we are and how much we concentrate on eating well, it is pretty difficult to load our bodies with the huge amounts of nutrients required to live optimally simply via what we eat and drink. Let alone during times like these when what we eat becomes the last thing we think about. So, to really load-up on the good stuff, I definitely recommend taking an all-natural, premium quality wholefood supplement. No matter what else happens over the course of the day in terms of food choice, it’s one good thing you can do for yourself that literally takes no time or prep. Choose a wholefood supplement that is completely plant based, without any nasties. Have a read of my Nutritional Philosophy for more details on the ones I recommend and reach out if you’d like more info.
Shake it up:
Most hospitals offer forms of protein-based drinks, be it a special blend or something such as Sustagen. From experience, these are neither tasty nor particularly nourishing and often high in sugar. Again, we are focusing on foods that can be prepped and packed easily, made easily, consumed easily on the go and consumed over a period of time if you need to come back and forth to it. Having a great plant-based powder that offers nutrient-dense vegan proteins and carbohydrates is a great option. All you need is the powder of choice, a shaker and liquid of choice which can be packed from home (nut milks, coconut milk, coconut water etc.), stored in the hospital fridge (just ask them!), room fridge (if you have one), or purchased from the hospital cafeteria. Choosing dairy or nut milk will also provide that third all important component of good fats as well – essential for the nervous system and managing stress and/or anxiety. Again, not all powdered proteins and superfood blends are created equal, so be sure to read the labels and choose an all-natural one.
Hospital staff will generally try and accommodate your dietary and food needs, if you ask. One friend shared that she was in a public hospital and requested vegan and gluten free meals and that what they served her was simple but delicious. Maybe not all hospitals will be able to do it but it’s worth asking for what you want and giving them the chance. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help and say YES when they offer it! Your health is important, so it’s ok if you don’t want to eat what the hospitals provide.
While sipping on something hot and soothing can be just what you feel like, having lots of cups of caffeinated tea and coffee isn’t the best idea for lots of reasons. I suggest packing your favourite herbal teas (or asking a loved one to bring them) to have them on hand in the room or if you are to-ing and fro-ing from hospital keep some in your bag.
Another hot drink option is bone broth. There is so much immune-boosting and gut-loving goodness in those bones! You can use it in all sorts of dishes like soups, stews, slow cooked one-pot wonders… or even just to drink a cup of it, like you might with miso. So, if you have friends/family cooking for you while you’re in hospital, maybe ask them to add some bone broth into the mix. Otherwise, just enjoy it as a drink every so often. If there is someone in your family or friendship group that would like to make it up for you, there are heaps of recipes online and also one in my book, The Juicy Movement. It really is so simple. Alternatively, you can buy good quality ones at health food stores or specialty grocers and pop it in your hospital prep bag or have visitors bring you some to heat up when you’re there (the microwave is fine!).
So, that’s it. As I said, life at this time is complicated enough so the idea is to uncomplicate nourishing yourself as much as possible. That’s why I’ve kept my list of tips small. Enough to make a difference but not too much to start to feel hard. It’s the last thing any new mum needs and also makes it doable from a friend/family member view point too.
Carla Thomas, Holistic Health Coach
Facebook: Carla Thomas The Juicy Movement
Please note the material above is not intended to constitute professional medical advice. We encourage you to speak with a medical practitioner if you are wanting to use any of the ideas presented in replacement of medical advice.