Institutions that care for the sick should ensure that only healthy foods are available on their premises

The other day I was at a hospital and happened to chance upon their canteen. It had the usual stuff — chips, cakes, biscuits, juices, chocolates, samosas etc. In other words, it was filled with nutritionally inferior foods.

So if you’re stuck in a hospital for a few days caring for a loved one, here are some tips to stay healthy.

- Eat simple home-cooked food. During stressful times, it’s best that you provide your body with easily digestible foods. Thankfully, there are people happy to assist during such times. You could also step out and pick up something nutritious like nuts, dried fruit, curd or fruit or have someone to pick it up for you.

- On days when you expect to be up all night, store healthful snacks.

- When sleep is deprived, your appetite signalling is off and there are times when you are falsely hungry. It is most probably a lack of water or sleep that is showing up as hunger. Assess yourself and listen to your body. If sleep is what you need, don’t try to fill that void with food. Get some sleep.

But protecting ourselves is not a long-term solution. There is a bigger issue and we need to address it.

Hospitals should avoid stocking unhealthy food.

I understand patients are given “healthier” options and that these canteens are for visitors, doctors, employees and other non-patients. But why provide such harmful foods to anyone at all at a place that is meant to promote health and well being? Yes, it takes effort to provide healthful food and hospitals should go that extra mile.

Maybe we also need to do our part to provide ourselves with a healthier future.

What can you do?

You can drop a note in the hospital's suggestion box asking for better food options. Or you could talk to someone in authority to bring about a change.

(The writer is a certified fitness and nutrition expert.)

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