When In Hospital, Advocate For The Way Of Eating Your Health Requires

There are many like myself whose daily functioning depends on sticking to a specific WFPB way of eating. In my case I have a combination of disorders that not eating in my prescribed manner can instantly mean: gaining 4-12 lymphatic weight pounds in a day, escalating blood sugars, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, lymphatic weight gain of several pounds, increased pain from rare disorder, brain fog, and my chin so large it hits my chest plus clothing suddenly not fitting. That is no exaggeration. (look up Dercum’s disease, lipedema, lymphedema )

Obviously it’s not out of pickiness that I eat what I eat. It’s the only way I have to be as comfortable as possible. No pills do what this way of eating does for me. I just posted how I handled my recent hospital stay but felt an additional write up was warranted on how I handled sticking to my Whole Food Plant Based No processed foods, no animal products, no oils or added sugar way of eating. Whether it’s in restaurants, hospitals, people’s homes, and so on, there are ways to make to make it work.

So when I had a run of the mill hysterectomy on the horizon, I knew I would have to maintain this way of eating going into the surgery as well as after, and especially in the hospital itself. I couldn’t imagine the initial swelling and pain from the surgery with the unnecessary other possible issues that wrong eating can cause me.

So I reached out to the hospital’s dietician’s office and spoke to their supervisor.  You can employ the same idea when working with nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, eating establishments hotels and possibly when staying in people’s homes as a guest for a meal or more.

At all times you need to remember that you are a guest in someone’s home or establishment. They may not fully understand or grasp the severity of your nutritional needs. Insisting and demanding isn’t going to help them understand. So your choice of words, your tone, and keeping your explanation simple can go a long way in both them being treating with the respect they deserve and you getting the consideration you deserve.

  1. There is more than one way to address each dilemma. So don’t get discouraged as you identify the issues to be resolved.
  2. What is the reason for the occasion the overall goal through their eyes verses your eyes. In a hospital it would be the health and nutrition of each and every patient. Your own goal would be the same but for  yourself. There is  an important difference, they have an enormous responsibility that you have to respect.  They are there for everyone not just you. So as you discuss options you must respect that.
  3. Pay close attention to their meal, snack and drink options. Do you see any options/ingredients you can root your own meal through?  Here is an example of what I saw on the menu of the hospital’s listings that gave me hope.. In the end with some modifications and some items from home, I made entire meals from the following:

 

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4)  Express appreciation for their offerings and ask if the following is possible:

  • Can the chef prepare yours without oil?
  • Can you ask for things you can’t eat to be left off?
  • Is it ok to bring things they don’t offer along with you so you can stick with your meal plan?
  • If they seem hesitant: Explain what your immediate risk would be if you eat what you are not suppose to eat.

Here are some of the items I was allowed to bring with me. Note it was all prepackaged and sealed, shelf stable. Nothing cooked from home.

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From Target: Beluga mini black lentils and a can of easy open chickpeas. From Trader Joes, Fortified Nutritional yeast, from Walmart WASA crackers and from Aldi, ready to serve brown rice.

 

So in the end if you added together the modified versions of what the hospital offered on their menu, and what was brought from home I was able to eat like this:

Hospital dinner
Along with some strawberries, this has fresh green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, red peppers, carrots, a half cup of black beluga lentils, and B-12 fortified nutritional yeast. For whole grains, there is a 100% whole grain WASA cracker. This dish contained tons of protein, iron, fiber vitamins A, B vitamins  and C, Vitamin D. 

When you are staying in someone else’s home of course, it is different. You just have to level with them and explain that you are willing to take responsibility for purchasing and preparing your own foods. If you are open and honest with them ahead of time and explain they risk having a very ill houseguest otherwise, then you should be fine.

Restaurants, you need to call them in advance and see how flexible they will be.

Airlines: Don’t even count on them accommodating you. All their meals are prepared and wrapped up in advance. Find out what is currently allowed and not permitted to be brought through security and onto the plane. Take into account  the number of hours without access to a refrigerator and remember ice packs likely not permitted on the plane.

Just size up your situation, your options, and figure out how to make it work for you while being a team player with the others directly involved in the situation.

Always remember to be gracious, flexible and if there is something they can’t do for you, remember likely there is more going on than just your own needs.

 

 

 

 

Hospitalized: Negotiating A Whole Food Plant Based Diet No Oil, No Sugar

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Having a hysterectomy was inevitable. My mother and twin sister both needed to have one done in their 40’s. I was in the 82nd percentile for having the same issues they did..  Here I was 56 and it was time for me. I knew a few years back that I was headed that direction with the need of repeated D and C’s, due to thickening uterus walls and bleeding that should never be happening. Seemed like a crossroads.

I found it a little depressing because like for all women, my uterus and it’s attachments had been a big part of my life for many years.  A pain in the neck, yes.  Just not sure how losing those parts would impact me overall.

Then I realized how ridiculous I was being and decided to be even more ridiculous but in a more fun manner.  We turned it into a celebration! We took this life event and made it our own.   I made a meme and invited my facebook friends to celebrate the end of an era, the parting of me from my uterus. We all got a good laugh out of it.

Uterus good bye

While laughing about it helped, I also wanted to give myself the best chance of being my healthiest going into the surgery and during recovery. Maintaining my whole food plant based diet has been very important as a tool to being my healthiest.  It’s the one thing I have control over.

One would assume that since a hospital is a place of healing that they would serve healthy foods. Reality is that in the mix are class one carcinogen. Translation would be to say that it’s the same as smoking cigarettes. Sausage is considered a processed meat so picture them being sold in cigarette cartons as well. Then there are eggs which I simply refuse to eat.

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Eek! Avoid The Processed Foods!

 

So seemed counter productive to have my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix removed and enduring a hospital stay to improve my health, but at the same time eat the typical hospital food offerings.

My healing depended on continuing to eat whole food plant based no oil, low fat, low glycemic index, no added sugar low glycemic index. So no white flour, no animal product and no processed foods.

I phoned  in advance the dietician responsible for the meals served to see what was possible. There were some great options they had available. They invited me to bring any shelf stable foods of my own to use with what they could provide. I took them up on their offer.

I brought in some foods from home including fortified nutritional yeast, brown rice, a pull top can of chick peas, an envelope of prepared, shelf stable baby beluga black lentils, and WASA crackers.  I used them with a modified version of a couple of their menu selections they prepared without oil and other items I asked them to alter.  I enjoyed delicious water sautéed stir friend vegetables with black lentils. Their pasta with marinara sauce and chickpeas, broccoli,cherry tomatoes and spinach with a side of orange sections was lovely.

Mercy Hospital even sautéed  vegetables for my breakfast

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Hospital dinner
Mercy Hospital in St. Louis Missouri water sautéed a mixture of vegetables and then I added black lentil and nutritional yeast to make it balanced. Very healing.

My surgeon, Dr. Cory Wagner did a wonderful job on my surgery and fully supports my eating Whole Food Plant Based Oil Free and Low Glycemic Index.  My labs were perfect for surgery and all went well.

I am now home and have a freezer and fridge filled with my favorite berries, greens, fresh vegetables, apples and oranges, homemade bean burgers, a shelf with my favorite crackers, rolled oats, garbanzo beans, black beans, lentils and dried peas.

As I continue to recover I won’t stop continuing to evolve as a healthier person. Each chapter of life is ours to safeguard and enjoy. We have power in selecting what we eat and to work with the world around us to make it happen.

I want to thank ‘St. Louis Mercy Hospital for being open to bending their menu selections to meet my needs. It kept my blood sugars level, my blood pressure healthy, and kept me from blowing up like a balloon.

I also want to thank my husband Tim for coming up to the hospital at night and rubbing my feet and making me feel like a special woman. He even made a special trip just to bring me an apple to snack on.

 

Thank you to my son Eric who held down the fort at home so well and gave me such a wonderful homecoming.

I love my family and I love my life, every stage of it and every challenge I come across. Lots of changes for the better. I am grateful.