Let Food be Thy Medicine -- So, Why Isn't That True in the Hospital?

Hippocrates, back about 2,500 years ago, declared "Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." I believe that's as true today as it was 2,500 years ago. And yet, when you enter most hospitals, you find a separation between the medicine that's practiced and the food that's served.

I always regret that I never took a picture of the two signs side by side at the entrance to the cardiac wing of a hospital in Massachusetts I once visited. One sign was announcing the entrance to the cardiac wing; the other sign was pointing to a doughnut shop, also at the entrance to the cardiac wing. To me, that was a classic juxtaposition of what's wrong in medicine today.

But it seems to permeate throughout most hospitals. My wife, who passed away from cancer after three months in the hospital, was fed white bread, sugary desserts, white rice, meat-centered dishes and worse during her entire stay in the hospital. Doctors and medical staff were seen throughout the day drinking one can of diet soda after another. And what were the options for me? Well, there was a bagel shop in -- you guessed it! -- the cardiac wing of the hospital. And there was a room of vending machines, all filled with unhealthy options. There was a bakery filled with all kinds of morning delights. And there was the cafeteria where double bacon cheeseburgers, pizza and premium ice cream desserts were most popular.

So, I read that Kaiser Permanente is now promoting a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. And I saw that Mayo Clinic has also written about the advantages of a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. But I wonder if that philosophy, which is being promoted to the physicians to promote to their patients, is also permeating down to the food services within the hospitals? If it's not, then something is wrong. How can patients take seriously a doctor who tells them to follow a whole foods, plant-based diet when upon leaving the doctor they run into a doughnut shop within the same medical office building or hospital where they are at receiving this advice?

It's time for hospitals and other medical establishments where food is served to wake up and recognize that the food they are selling, and the food they are serving their patients, is contrary to the nutritional advice they are handing out. Instead of being preventive, the food being served in a lot of hospitals and medical establishments is most likely creating the need for more medical services in the future. And that's a real shame!