Hospital targets patients’ eating habits to improve long-term health

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A private hospital in Brisbane is going over and above to ensure its patients remain healthy well after being discharged.

The Brisbane Private Hospital has introduced a new initiative to educate patients about their diet, in the hope they will change their eating habits after leaving the hospital.

The initiative seeks to provide information on menu items by highlighting the approximate number of carbohydrates in each food.

Mairi McNeill, the Brisbane Private Hospital general manager, said the initiative was about helping patients to make lifestyle changes that would lead to the prevention of health issues down the track.

“All healthcare providers should be focusing on prevention, not just treatment,” Ms McNeill said.

“What we eat has an enormous impact on our overall health and wellbeing, so Brisbane Private has made this a focus for staff and patients.

“By highlighting the nutritional information on our menus, we hope people will make informed choices both during their hospital stay and after they are discharged.”

The hospital has established a nutrition committee to oversee the program.

The committee is in charge of reviewing all of the hospital’s food and beverage options, including patient menus, vending machines and the staff cafeteria.

“Ultimately, the goal is to not only provide healthy options, but to educate staff, patients and visitors on what they are eating and how it impacts their health,” Mrs McNeill said.

The hospital’s chefs and kitchen staff worked with dietitians to develop a menu with foods that are low on sugar and starch while also including low fat and low carbohydrate options.

A key focus of the new-look menu was to reduce patients’ sugar and starch intake as those can lead to increased blood sugar levels and chronic hyperinsulinaemia, which can ultimately lead to insulin resistance.

The hospital’s new menus use teaspoons to highlight the approximate number of carbohydrates in each item.

“I think our carbohydrate teaspoon indicator on menus will come as a bit of a surprise for many people when they realise exactly how much sugar is in some of their favourite foods,” dietitian Leanne Wagner said.

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