How perfect is it that I was about to write a blog post about this very topic just as I came across this image? SO PERFECT! Written-in-the-stars kind of perfect. Just kidding. I’m totally exaggerating.B ut I really do like this quote from Wendell Berry because this is exactly my point.

Over the weekend, my grandma was admitted to the hospital after being taken to the emergency room. She had suffered a very small stroke and was actually doing fine by the time she even made it to the hospital, but just to be safe her doctor recommended she stay there overnight. They finally got her up to a room by about three o’clock, at which point the only thing she had eaten all day was “breakfast.” Breakfast is in quotes because for her, breakfast is a slice of pound cake and a cup of coffee. She likes cake.

So, being the health-conscious, concerned granddaughter that I am, by one o’clock- even before they had moved her up to her room- I was asking, “Nana, are you hungry? Do you want us to try and get you some food?” I knew there would be limited nutrious options within the emergency room, but even some crackers to get her metabolism going and help stabilize her blood sugar would be better than nothing. She said she wasn’t hungry though, so I left it at that for then, figuring the nurses would come with food  once we got to a room.

Silly, silly me. Honestly, I was astounded that up until the time the dinner delivery person came to her room at six o’clock, not one doctor or nurse ever asked if she was hungry or when the last time she had eaten was. Yes, by all means, make sure everything else is OK, but you’re a licensed health care professional and putting something nutritious into your patients body isn’t even among the least of your concerns? That’s pretty alarming to me. Not that it would have mattered if they tried to give her some vegetables or anything though, because my grandma is so anti foods-that-are-good-for-you that it’s actually kind of funny. But that’s a whole different issue.

So, not only did none of the doctors or nurses ever once take into consideration feeding or hydrating their patient (my mom and I had to hunt down nurses to get a pitcher of water and then we basically forced my grandma to drink a cup), but when the pre-prepared hospital dinner arrived, I laughed because it was the biggest joke of a meal I have ever seen. What was on the tray?

– A huge lump of what could hardly be called macaroni and cheese. (I took a bite, and let me just reassure you there was no cheese involved in the making of that yellow mound of crap.)

– A hearty serving of spinach, which, OK thanks for the spinach but…it was all watery and just not appetizing at all. Plus who knows what they cooked it in or when & where it may have come from.

– An individually packaged piece of white bread. (So basically, a processed lump of refined sugar.)

– A cup of coffee, apple juice, and apple sauce.

So as you can see, the typical hospital patient in America isn’t getting what one would really consider a  “well-balanced” meal. Even as a non-doctor, non-nutritionist, just-average-person-with-a-blog, I can see and understand the enormous and endless benefits that come with eating fresh & natural foods like fruits and vegetables, and I find it appalling that our health care system chooses to focus so heavily on side-effect-laden medicinal treatments. Not that medicine isn’t helpful, but the inclusion of a balanced whole-foods diet is so important to one’s overall health and I think it’s extremely silly that our health care system, for the most part, seriously overlooks that fact.

Of course, Wendell Berry is completely correct in saying that our food industry pays absolutely no attention to health (or rather, they pretend to), and as I learned from my visit to a hospital this weekend, the health industry’s very last concern is treating sickness with healthy foods. And so, it’s all just one big, endless cycle where people’s health continues to deteriorate until they are hospitalized and heavily medicated, never knowing that a healthy, balanced diet could be the cure to their illness and a much healthier life.

For a deeper, more detailed look into this cycle and some very compelling studies behind the science of treating illness with food, I highly recommend watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” I’m telling you, you’ll be blown away at what you learn about food, health, America’s healthcare system and the overall health of American’s compared to people in other parts of the world.

[image via Cave Girl Eats]