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Looking for healthier, different food

August 13, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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After eating in nursing homes for 16 years I know the menus by heart. At this facility the menus do not change much from winter to summer. Lighter foods would be nice in the summertime.    

A few months ago, while recovering at a major university hospital, I had different, healthier food. Daily menus had two options for each meal. I could also request a smaller meal, if I wanted.

One breakfast was a frittata which I have never had. I was pleased to try something so different. Though it seemed a bit bland, I could easily eat frittatas made with white cheese and/or more herbs. 

One lunch was chicken salad and pita bread. It was delicious and quite filling. Dessert was cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Since I do not get much fresh fruit at the nursing home, I was in heaven. 

My last lunch there was salmon, wild rice and broccoli. The salmon was tasty but a bit dry. It will take time for dietary to prepare and serve meals while they are still moist. 

At a previous facility where I lived, they tried a few different and healthier meals.  But many residents did not like them. Most liked meat and potatoes and refused to try anything new. This seems particularly strange since most of us have seen these foods prepared on TV for years.

In my forties I changed to a healthier diet. I eliminated beef, pork, luncheon meats, hot dogs (except for those made of turkey) and yellow cheese. So when I went to a nursing home most of the food served was not on my diet. Months later my weight showed it.

Over time, and with much persuasion, I was able to get management and dietary to prepare the chicken, turkey and fish (entrées) I wanted along with a few carbs and I lost the weight.

But I have made little headway here. I can eat less of what they serve me and feel hungry. Or, I can eat what they serve and try to cut back calories elsewhere.  Either way is difficult.

I have not seen a skinless, boneless chicken breast served here in a long time.  Most chicken and fish are breaded. Even though dietary bakes breaded entrées, they still have excess carbs I do not need. When we have bone-in chicken it is a leg and thigh baked with the skin on. Legs and thighs have small bones and gristle which make them difficult to eat and they also are not meaty. So in order to get enough protein I do eat some beef. 

I long for salad, an entrée of turkey, chicken, or fish and a vegetable. I can even eat some hard carbs (potatoes or noodles) without cheese, and still remain on my diet.   

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Hi Kathleen, my name is Michelle and i am an employee at a hospital in Pennsylvania. I stumbled across the Long Term Living magazine while cleaning out an office and began to read your articles. I wanted to say i think it is absolutely amazing how far you have come in everything you had to endear. I pray that you continue to have a positive outlook in the rest of your days and continue to give other residents hope and strength through your letters. God bless You Kathleen for all you have helped others and may God continue to shine on you and your life.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...