Let food by thy medicine

  • , by Jacob Wolki
  • 5 min reading time
Let food by thy medicine

A friend of mine recently admitted himself to the hospital. He has a heart condition known as Atrial fibrillation (AF) which means that his heart can often beat fast and irregularly. It’s a known issue to him so he monitors himself with some equipment at home, as needed.

He found that his heart rate was a whopping 200 beats per minute, so he admitted himself to the hospital for observation. They stabilised him and sent him home the next day.

Two weeks later, he also noticed, once again, that his heart was out of rhythm. After testing, his heart rate was low, 50 beats per minute, which was not normal for him. So once again, he admitted himself to the hospital.

Our triage care here in the West is exceptional, and I personally would rather go nowhere else in the world after receiving acute infection or blunt force trauma. But there is something to be said for the way Western hospitals manage chronic disease. Doctor friends of mine put heavy emphasis on the fact that our medical system is set up to manage chronic diseases -- not reverse or cure them.

My friend, being in observation for 24 hours, was privy to hospital meals. He had sweetened apple juice, white bread, rehydrated packet eggs, and fruit in syrup.

For lunch, he was blessed with a chicken parmigiana, no doubt from a factory farm, including thickeners, preservatives, vegetable oil, sugar -- you name it, this had it.

It's unfortunate to me that while people are in the hospital there are no simple steps taken towards nourishing their bodies with quality food.

Now, of course, you could say that a few quality meals while in hospital will not change the course of people's health. And you can argue that our doctors, nurses, and staff working in hospitals are working hard, understaffed, underpaid, yada yada yada. While all those things may be true, I don't think that absolves the system from critique.

I believe that there is a real opportunity while people are in hospitals, staring down the barrel of chronic disease, unknown health outcomes, and often facing the consequences of environmental and lifestyle choices.

We could have serious conversations with people about their health decisions and steer them away from generic poor decisions. Excessive alcohol consumption, diets full of highly processed food, addiction to processed carbs and refined sugars, seed oils, the list goes on. We have a real opportunity to meet people along their health journey and address the root cause. We have lots of tools and knowledge that can reverse metabolic chronic disease and heal people.

At Wolki farm, we believe that your environment and inputs play an enormous role in your health. If Ann and I need to go to the hospital we pack our own food. When my wife was in the maternity ward I would take her meals. Theodore was born during the lockdowns. Most of the labour was done at home, and as we got to the maternity ward Ann almost had him in the waiting room.

She was doing so well, and it was a great labour. Everything moved quicker than we had anticipated after Otto's long, drawn-out labour. Once Theo was all safely delivered, and we had our skin to skin cuddles, I left the facility to get Ann some food.

My wife doesn't do well on gluten or dairy and has stayed away from highly processed foods ever since I met her – and you can imagine what the menu at the hospital was like. She put in an order for some sushi and different cuts from the local sushi bar, which is just around the corner, so I quickly pardoned myself from the hospital and went down the street chasing this shopping list. I’m sure you can imagine bounce in my step.

When I arrived back, the midwives promptly told me I wasn't allowed to visit my wife. This was because of COVID lockdown measures. Even though I was within visiting times and I had a three hour old son in the hospital with my wife, I wasn’t allowed in.

The rule was that each visitor was allowed to come once per day. I had already punched my ticket. I reminded the midwives that they had no food suitable for my wife, and I had gone shopping to get her something suitable after her big effort. However, it fell on deaf ears. My self control and patience cut very thin, very quickly. I braced myself and was quickly running scenarios in my head on how to best handle this when a midwife I knew noticed the situation.

She came over and told the other midwives that she would sort it and threw me in the room with Ann. She was a regular customer at our Cafe Musette and was also present for Otto’s birth. I was so thankful that common sense prevailed and I was able to get my wife her food.

I've had numerous conversations with staff at different levels at our local hospital about the food being served. Why can't they serve bone broth, stews, and soups made with slow-cooked meats, marrow, and broth? What about heirloom vegetables? Locally grown, of course. Everyone agrees, I get very little pushback. But it’s never their job, it’s on the desk of the man upstairs. It’s the budget. It’s the status quo.

So I'm putting this out there into the world. If anyone at the Albury Base Hospital would like to explore the idea of having an alternative or parallel menu to feed nourishing whole foods to people while they are under observation and treatment, I'd love to have a conversation with you. It's something I'd be open to personally tackling. If someone out there could contribute to this conversation I welcome it.

Until then, stay away from hospital food.


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