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Eating well in hospital

Eating well in hospital is important. It can help you recover from your illness more quickly and allow you to go home sooner. 

Unfortunately many people are at risk of becoming under-nourished when they are in hospital. Older people are particularly at risk. Many people also need help and encouragement to eat and drink, to reach their meal tray, open packaging and to ensure they receive the right food and drinks for them.

You can help by letting the staff know which food and drink is not appropriate for you and what assistance you may need at mealtime.

When you arrive at hospital please tell staff if you have:

  • lost weight recently
  • eaten little in the last 5 or more days
  • diabetes or take diuretics (water tablets)
  • difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • special food or drink requirements due to:
    • allergies
    • special diet
    • religious or cultural beliefs
    • personal taste.

Please tell us if you take nutritional supplement drinks.

At mealtimes ask for help

Please inform staff of your needs as early as possible so that we can give you the care you need.

Staff can help with:

  • filling in your menu form
  • reaching your food tray
  • opening containers
  • cutting up food
  • sitting upright at meal times
  • making sure that you have received the correct meal.

All ward staff can help you with your food, eating and nutrition needs, particularly:

  • nurses
  • dietitians
  • menu monitors
  • doctors
  • speech pathologists
  • other allied health
  • staff staff who deliver your meals and drinks.
Track your weight changes

Ask to be weighed on admission and at regular intervals during your time in hospital as your weight may change without you noticing.

Ask about other nutritional support

We can bring you snacks or nutritional supplement drinks between meals. Just ask to see the dietitian who can arrange this for you. These are particularly important if you are having smaller main meals.

Don't forget to drink regularly. Aim for 6 glasses of fluid a day unless staff has advised you otherwise.

This information sourced from the Hungry To Be Heard Campaign, Age Concern, England. Adapted by St Vincent's Private Hospital Melbourne's Nutrition Steering Committee in March 2013.

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