In any health care setting, choosing a nutrient-rich menu for your patients is crucial for not only helping them maintain ideal health, but also for preventing malnourishment and other related complications. In fact, the continued consumption of nutritionally balanced meals in conjunction with thoughtful nutrition education has even been proven to reduce patient readmission rates by as much as 25%. Plus, following a diet more closely resembling a Mediterranean diet, meaning mostly fruit, vegetables, and lean protein with whole grains, has been shown to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. More importantly, fresh foods taste great, and your patients deserve the best!
Choosing The Right Ingredients
When it comes to choosing the right, healthy items for your patient menus, the easiest thing to do is stick to the five basic food groups:
- Bright, vibrant fruits and natural fruit juices are full of vitamins and antioxidants that are vital to proper health.
- Colorful vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables, are powerful against disease, with countless nutrients necessary for supporting comprehensive wellness.
- Whole grains and other fiber-rich foods are full of nutrients and minerals that collectively support energy and optimal digestion.
- Low/Fat-free dairy products, or fortified plant-based alternatives, when consumed in moderation, have calcium, vitamin D, and other critical nutrients that can support optimal bodily function.
- Lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and some soy-based foods, are vital for the absorption of protein and healthy fats, like Omega-3, that support strong muscles and bones.
Fun, Easy Recipe Tips Your Patients Will Love
The most difficult part, of course, is finding delicious recipes that keep your facility’s kitchen fresh and your patients excited about their next meals. Luckily, when you have the right ingredients, mixing and matching them to create interesting new meals for your patients every day is easy!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be the most complicated. Oatmeal made with creamy low/fat-free milk instead of water, fresh fruits, and nuts is a simple idea that anyone, even those with specific physical limitations, can love. You can even turn around and use leftover ingredients for parfaits with low-fat yogurt, tropical fruit salads, and more – reducing total food costs.
Lunch is simply the meal that keeps your patients from getting too restless before dinner, which means there’s really no reason it has to be heavy. Light sandwiches made with whole grain bread, lots of vegetables, and some sort of protein filling, like turkey, chicken, mashed chickpeas, or tofu, is really all your patients need. If you feel like kicking things up a notch, hearty vegetable chili and broth-based soups are also great lunch options, and can be made with ingredients you already have leftover in your kitchen!
Dinner is the last, and often times the heaviest, meal of the day. The key here is simply to keep balance. Your patients need entrées that focus on protein, with a variety of healthy sides to choose from. Usually you will want at least one side to be some sort of grain, and another side of vegetables and/or fruits. Ingredients can be assembled in virtually any way, from all-in-one salads to multiple course meals, to best serve your patients’ unique needs.
Pro-Tip: Chop up some nuts and/or seeds to add a little extra crunch, and a few extra nutrients, to your patients’ meals!
If you need additional support, Vision Software and our array of impressively innovative food service software applications will always be here for you! Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how Vision Software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.