Food and health (care)

In keeping with the theme of my blog (health care) + reflecting on Blog Action Day 2011‘s theme of food, I’m interested in food as relates to the health and health care. I don’t know anyone who has a fond memory of hospital food and it has as much to do with culture as with the meal itself. Systems like PlaneTree that support food, family, the arts and a holistic culture within hospitals are becoming more prevalent because the data is starting to show people heal more quickly and effectively in such environments. Regarding food, the PlaneTree model states,

“Planetree recognizes that eating is not only essential to physical health, but is also a source of pleasure, comfort, and fellowship. A Planetree dining program enhances the social aspects of meals while serving delicious fresh food that is attractively presented in a pleasant environment. A full-service dining program offers changing, nutritionally-balanced menus with choices of entrees and side dishes, including heart-healthy choices, that are responsive to individual preferences. Mealtimes are flexible and healthy snacks are available at all times. The dining program includes special events, holiday meals, parties, and picnics for residents and staff.”

Cities like Detroit with the Detroit Works Project quote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recognizing that food and food security can,

•Reduce health disparities* and the likelihood of health conditions related to poor diet (obesity, diabetes) – *Health Disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease and disability, or in lack of opportunities to achieve optimal health. Disparities can be defined in terms of geographic location, gender, race, education, income, or age. )
•Increase social stability through improved health, community pride

Bringing the community back to food whether in our back yards or the hospital is central to building a vibrant community. Can you cook from scratch tonight or spend time appreciating your food? As a doctor in my life told me a few years ago, “Kate, you need to have a relationship with your food.” To reduce my carbon footprint and cultivate that relationship I eat almost vegetarian and nearly always from scratch. It’s a project! And it feeds me in more ways than one.


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