Do you have a loved one who can no longer be cared for at home? If so, you probably already know how bad nursing home food is. Although it's really no different than school food or hospital food. All of it should be illegal. We shouldn't be able to feed our pets this stuff, let alone those we love. Maybe you know of some refreshing exceptions, I'm sure they're out there somewhere, and if so, I'd like to hear about them.
I should've been paying better attention…
Morning Mass on Wednesdays alternates between two nursing homes right by our church. The other day when I should've been paying attention to the readings, instead my eyes kept drifting to what was on the table in front of me (pictured above) and it got me all riled up. Not at the people who work there, they don't decide what to feed the patients, and most probably don't know any different anyway, but I was angry at how those in our government (and various other greedy or ignorant people) have gotten us so far away from REAL food, and that the junk I saw there is actually “normal”. Not just in nursing homes, but in most everyone's homes nowadays. It's easy to forget that, as I wander through life in my little real food bubble, until I go anywhere that is.
So what was the big deal with the junk in that picture above?
- Non-dairy creamer – Loaded with trans fat and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and chemical preservatives, it's not even FOOD it's so fake, it's one big chemical cocktail! Just as bad as what is in it, is what's not in there. Real cream, especially when raw, is full of healthy fats with all those fat soluble vitamins and other nutrients that our bodies need. The elderly need whole foods as much, or more, than the rest of us!
- Jam in the little packets has HFCS, chemical preservatives, and NO nutrients left from the fruit, if there ever even was fruit in there at all. Homemade jam is best so you can use fresh fruit and decide how much sweetener you want, but buying organic jam is next-best.
- Syrup packets have more HFCS and chemical preservatives, and NONE of the nutrients that are found in real maple syrup. (Read more about real maple syrup.)
- Artificial sugars are full of scary fake sweeteners and again, more preservatives. They're probably for the diabetics no doubt, which probably include 75% of nursing home patients. (Find sources for real, natural sugars.)
- Super refined white table salt has few minerals like you'll find in real sea salt, but it does have some lovely anti-caking agents. Whatever the heck those are. (Read more about real sea salt and its benefits.)
And these are just their condiments.
Why do I just know that they're also eating butter substitutes, CAFO meat, blah supermarket produce grown conventionally in pesticide-laden nutrient-free soil, lots of refined starches, sugary juices, and baked goods made with vegetable oils and refined sweeteners?
Do you think this is upsetting, too, or am I just freaking out too much about stuff like this? Did I forget any other horrifying facts about this junk?
By the way, as I was taking the picture above after Mass, a friend who I only met earlier this fall walked up, trying to figure out what I was doing. I said, “If you haven't already, now you'll find out just how weird I am.” 🙂
Nursing Home Food Should Be Illegal — Do you agree?!
Related posts…or not:
- Read more about Healthy Fats here.
- The Dark Disgusting Secrets of the Flavor Makers — “This is wrong on so many levels, if I start a rant, I'll never stop. So I guess I'll just let you watch the video on flavor enhancers in food and exactly how it's done: the “flavor makers“.
- What is a CAFO farm?
- How I got lazy and the 5 ways I've committed to real food and healthy eating! — “It’s easy to let yourself become lazy when following a healthier lifestyle, don’t you think? At first you’re all gung-ho and you get your family on a better track, but over time you slip in small areas here and there. It’s not that we need to be perfect, none of us can eat a “perfect” diet, but it is easy to get busy, and then get a little lax over time.”
- Lower Back Pain Every Morning? How Kent’s Went Away *Overnight* and Why Organic is Not the Best Non-Toxic Mattress — “Do you have lower back pain every morning? A few months ago I found out that apparently Kent had been having a lot of back pain — I knew he’d been using an extra pillow to try and get comfortable at night, but I didn’t realize how bad his pain had gotten…“
My mom is in a very good assisted living facility. The food is made onsite and is tasty. I’m certain is is similar to what my mom has been cooking for many, many years. She had been losing weight when she lived in her apartment because she wasn’t eating much. She gained her”freshman 15” in the year she’s been there. I have eaten several meals there and they have been tasty.
My problem is the amount of carbohydrates they serve.My mom is diabetic (type 2 with insulin). The meal we had: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, roll, real butter, jello with sliced pears.
Nice that it’s tasty, but they’re probably trying to recreate the food most of them are used to…
My grandmother was in assisted living and I will agree, the food was terrible. Not only are they feeding diets that these people are not used to but they are unhealthy. For as much as it costs (we were paying 4,000-5,000 and month) you would think that they would be getting the absolute best there is….and have qualified, stable employees to make sure each patients diet is tailored to fit their tastes and their needs. This is the last place most of them will call ;home’ so it should be made the most ‘like’ home that it can possibly be.
Donna Dubois says
No matter how much you pay for nursing home care most food service managers are given a budget of how much they can spend on food per resident. Sadly, it is very little. Not only is food unhealthy, but far too many residents are put on tasteless salt free or fat free diets when there is absolutely n o current research to support hat these are healthy or help prevent high blood pressure or heart disease. then menus are repeated month after month. The food so bland and tasteless that many residents eventually stop eating altogether but instead of staff realizing why the resident has sopped eating they assume it is just that the elderly person has reached “end stage” and nothing is done.
many homes don’t put any condiments on the table at all. Just bring some favorite home cooking and most of these residents suddenly are no longer “end stage.”
True story, I dated a guy who had rags to riches family. They put their Mother in the cheapest nursing home.
They decided to do hospice when she wouldnt eat for a few days.
She died 2 weeks later.
Turns out she started asking for all her favorite foods (very ethnic eastern european dishes ,none served in the very waspy nursing home)
But she had already “started” on hospice and nurses told them she was just talking out loud.
Going through similar situation where dietician doest want to give any tasty regional foods to relative recovering from covid 19!
This person is lucky to still have sense of taste but they’re calling her low appetite just because she doesnt want salt free turkey sandwiches over and over
I so totally agree with you. My Mom’s nursing home is getting $25,000 a month, and being tube fed. Every single day they bring in the crappiest fake pureed mashed potatoes, my brother tried them, they are so disgusting. Then they wonder why she isn’t eating, we have told them numerous times, your food is crap and no nutritional value. Is this what our parents deserve after working hard all their lives? NO. It is in-humane and so wrong. My Mom is in a small facility in Keizer, OR with 14 confirmed covid patients out of 48. Very scary and of course they lie and say she is doing fine, no she is not. They won’t test until she show signs??? She has been trapped in her room since early March, no windows, no bath. She had a stroke in October, and was just starting to get mobile with physical therapy, now she will be starting all over as of course, there has been no therapy. We video chat 4 days a week, she is going down hill just laying in bed. I hope she makes it. Thanks for listening. It is all so frustrating.
Jan that is just heartbreaking, I’m so sorry. It’s good you’re keeping in close contact with her and with those who work there. Why wouldn’t they be bathing her?!! How horrible. I wonder if there’s any way you could bring her to your house or to another place??
hope your Mom made it
Threats of lawsuits might help
contact the dietician.
Bass Suzu says
I got “Kool Aid Jello”, with sugar, and aspartame for my coffee. 😉
Robin Janz says
I worked in a care home that has pretty good food here in southern Manitoba, Canada. They are partially funded by local churches and recognize how important good food is, including the aroma of it being made. Their resident activities often include bread baking and making other foods common to the local culture – it’s in an area predominantly populated by Mennonites.
Norma Johnson Hilliard says
My mother in law was in one for over a year. Sugar with every meal. It was disgusting.
Tammy Jo Soens says
Same thing in the hospital…witness to a uti admittance, being fed grape juice, and asked how much sugar they wanted in their coffee. ..Really wondered where I was…?
Sarah L. Peterson says
Yes!!! I told my parents I will cook for them. The Ensure drives me crazy….
Marni Postlewait says
It’s absolutely horrible.
Trixie Grohman Ferguson says
They serve this same garbage in hospitals (only instead of Splenda they make it even worse by serving Sweet&Low) SMH!
Diane Ives says
I doubt homes that wanted to serve real food would be able to stay in business because of the way they are paid
Carol Myers says
School food isn’t much better!
Ali Romaine says
Hence, the reason I call those places Warehouses for the Dying.
Daniel ONeil says
I live in one and it is a wharehouse of the dying. If my drs. orders were followed I might have a better chance. I am alone in the world and have no family to watch over me.I will dye alone and malnourished.
Daniel, that must be so difficult!! Where do you live? If you’d like to email me your address ([email protected]), I’d like to send you a card now and then so you know you’re not alone and that someone cares! (Don’t put your address here, obviously, just shoot me a private email.)
Betsy Townsend O'Neal says
Hospital food is equally bad!!
Jean Price says
35 years ago I worked in nursing homes and the food was actual home cooking – plus this was pre-GMO and HFCS. Today it seems to be all processed, nuked and food-like substances. Sad sad sad.
Jeanmarie Todd says
I’m determined to keep my parents out of these places!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
I’m sure they appreciate this too Jeanmarie!
Sherry Hicklin says
Have already told my daughters if I end up in one of those places or extended hospital stay please bring me food!!
Rhiannon F S Knight says
Is it the same in the UK?
I’ve eaten real food including raw milk for over 20 years and rarely eat at work. I’m an RN working in a Skilled Nursing facility. We tried to bring in more healthy options like darker greens instead of iceburg, cutting out casseroles, baked, broiled and lightly sauced chicken and fish. While many residents and their families started the push, only a few did not ask us to resume the prior food dishes and preparations. Food is a comfort and social time and weight loss is a real issue in the elderly population. When I started nursing 21 year ago we still fed medically restricted diets in the Nursing home, no added salt, cardiac and renal diets. Many simply said if I have to eat that, I’d rather not eat. My personal feeling is feed them whatever they desire at 85 plus happiness and quality of life is the main focus. This was a lesson I learned from my 85 yo great aunt many decades ago, she was not eating her cardiac diet at the hospital and I took her eggs, country ham, biscuits, red eye gravy, she ate every drop my aunt made her. Her younger Dr. chastized me and told her food like that would kill her. She ate as she pleased for another 9 years and still lived at home till the end.
Kelly Moeggenborg says
Robin, I agree, feed them real food no matter their age! “Cardiac diets” are so scary anyway. People NEED real fats to thrive!
Julia Wille Grigsby says
I was a case worker for a 90-bed facility, “home” to adults with developmental disabilities – I had always wondered what changing their food would have done for them. Yes, the food they are given is low-budget and bad. Today, I’m an Autism mom – now I know what to do!
Rachel Adams Wiswesser says
When my grandmother was in a nursing home last summer before she passed, the food they gave her was terrible. I’ll never forget the time I went to visit her and she sat there with a giant hot dog, slathered in cheese whiz, all dripping off her hands and making a mess, because she didn’t have the dexterity in her hands to eat very well anymore. Along with the hot dog was jello, ice cream, chips, juice, and coffee. The combination alone made me want to throw up! It’s sad that this is how the elderly are fed when they can no longer live on their own.
This is part of why I feel so strongly about cooking for my elderly parents (86 and 87) since their catastrophic automobile accident 18 months ago. Fortunately they had good insurance coverage (although it took a MAJOR fight spearheaded by my sister to get even part of the insurance that should have been coming to them for their pain and suffering), and were able to come home, but without me or someone helping them out, they would have had to rely on an institution. I have no retirement left and should be building my own career, but I feel so strongly about caring for my parents in their own home for as long as possible. They aren’t 100% on board with my food recommendations, but I can do a lot by just cooking from scratch and making better choices for fats and oils, using stock, and minimizing sugar. They still insist on 2% milk, oh well.
Kelly Moeggenborg says
Jeanmarie, you’ll be blessed for taking care of your parents like this and you’ll never regret it.
Achara Meurer says
I have observed in the United States, it is commonly accepted to send one’s parent away in a nursing home. I have also observed, in countries where the majority of population are still without access to modern technologies.,… unspoken… the Family takes care of their own by providing the elderly with fresh food, shelter and love. “Nursing Home” is non-existent. When did nursing homes become the norm in the United States?
Kathryn Hicks says
Definitely agree with this. Here in Australia, most nursing homes used to have their own kitchens and cook staff. Meals were made properly, 3 times a day, and special treats were made fresh for special occasions (like Birthdays, Anniversaries or just for a good day) and Christmas Dinner was the real thing. In recent years, most nursing homes have closed their kitchens, made the staff redundant, and outsourced the ‘catering’ to a variety of firms who I would not let feed my chooks! I was horrified to learn that Christmas Dinner for the members of a former community based facility which was ‘sold’ for a peppercorn to a religious organisation was sandwiches – and not even fresh sandwiches! Christmas Day was a Monday; the delivery of sandwiches was on the Friday at the ‘usual’ time – morning. Those sandwiches were supposed to remain in the refrigerator all through Friday, Saturday, Sunday and to be consumed on the Monday for Christmas Dinner – Happy Christimas, Oldies – we will just take your large financial contribution and 85% of your pensions and give you some crusty, stale sandwiches to celebrate this special day!
Kathryn Hicks says
I brought my mum home to live with me when she became too frail for independent living – after I had found out about the horrible way the nursing home treated inmates. They would have been better served in jail, and would have been able to keep their money and enjoy it. I dread becoming frail and ending up in one of these government sanctioned hell holes run only for the profit of the owners who employ staff who could not in the wildest imagination be called ‘carers’.
Jeanmarie Todd says
This is why I cook for my parents, Kelly!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
You’re a great daughter Jeanmarie!!! xoxo
Shirley Bock says
Elaine Health in Hadley has the cheapest and worst food imaginable. I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t experienced it first hand.
Jean Price says
I couldn’t agree more!
The Wellness Balance - Simple Solutions for Digestive Health says
So true 🙁 .. has anyone had success with a change to nursing home food?
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
I’d love to know myself. Unless you’re running your own adult care facility, I don’t know how one could go about ensuring their parent or grandparent is being provided with wholesome, real food meals without making it themselves.
Dee Jewell says
I’ve worked with the elderly and this was so sad and frustrating to me. So much processed foods!
Check out the Bene Plate kickstarter one man started to honour his wife who died of cancer, when he realised many cancer patients die of malnutrition rather than the cancer itself: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/221773679/a-food-revolution
Cassandra Hansen says
Lorraine Penner says
Im just as crazy! If you get me started on this topic! I wish we could change these awful broken systems!
Lisa Wanderlingh says
Yes I totally agree Kelly! It’s shameful!
Carrie Hoult Perez says
It’s worse than the school, lunch issue. My grandma is almost 95. She wants real food.
Trixie Grohman Ferguson says
You should’ve seen the crap they were serving my husband in the hospital last week. The doctors would stand there preaching about a healthy diet while the food service staff laid out a tray with Sweet&Low for the iced tea, margarine for the rolls, Fat-Free Ranch salad dressing (for the wilted lettuce and half-rotten tomato salad), industrialized “meat” loaf, powdered mashed potatoes, etc. The doctors couldn’t understand why I thought every one of them was full of crap. Hmmm >:(
Beth Baker says
Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg. Add the fake food supplements, the processed snack foods served as side dishes in main meals, and high fructose corn syrup laden juices and so on. Now it is a perfect storm for continued illness and poor health. Resulting in more and more use of “medicine”. Our most vunerable are treated as a comodity, if they became healthier there would be no need to keep most of them packed into these places. Until we start usng food as medicine instead of medicine as food the cycle and the profits will contiue.
Sasha Campbell says
Agreed, but also most food in hospitals, schools, many restaurants and probably over half of what is in the average grocery store. And, there is a huge difference in what a an RD (a hospital or nursing home “nutritionist”) learns vs an LN/CNS Nutritionist.
Heather Richardson says
We just got back from Disney a week ago…my real food taste buds were not a fan of any of the food there. Couldn’t wait to come home and eat farm fresh eggs dripping in coconut oil.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Jeanne Ryan – I really don’t think nutritionists are much help to patients at all, sadly, and real, nourishing food could make such a difference!
Sherry Hicklin says
My mom was in a nursing home, I told my girls: if i ever have to go to a nursing home PLEASE bring me my kefir and other real food.
Jeanne Ryan says
Kel, my Dad became so confused (home) of what he could eat/couldn’t, with his multiple medications, I wholeheartedly believe his body/organs became an enemy before & upon admitting him to hospital. Sadly 9 days in the hospital with many UPS/DOWNS he passed away.
Sharon Williams Cathey says
I agree…My mother ate this and when she couldn’t have ham because it was too salty, they gave her plain hotdogs on white bread.
Faye Norton Malone says
I totally agree. They have a nutritionist but yet diabetics are given white bread ,potatoes and other carb loaded food.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Yeah I could NEVER be a nutritionist — I’d get fired for all the butter I’d want to feed sick people!
I agree. When we’d go to visit my diabetic grandpa in the hospital they would offer him diet soda amongst other artificial sweeteners with his coffee. Blech!
Erin, wow, they just must not have a CLUE what crap they’re giving out… 🙁
I am an RN at a hospital that serves junk like this! Since when are corndogs and smiley fries healthy for sick patients who are there trying to heal and get well! I just want to bring these patients some bone broth from my farm raised chickens. It is terrible, i just dont get it. It would not cost much more to make real homemade food and that is what these patients are used to. I work at a rural community hospital where most patients grew up on a farm eating homegrown foods. It should be a crime.
My daughter recently had a baby (July), is a Type I Diabetic, and they tried to feed her nothing but junk! She ended up with a C-section (she is one of the 4% who really needs one as her hips did not spread and no room for baby to come out-she pushed for 90 minutes, opted for a C, and once doctor opened her up saw baby was never coming out on his own!)
My daughter was not allowed to bring in her own medicine (insulin), and the OB never consulted with her Endo! My daughter is supposed to take her blood sugar levels BEFORE she eats, counts any and all carbs and take 1 unit for every 12 carbs (my daughter eats mainly low-carb), but the OB would NOT allow her to take her insulin WHEN she ate, took it 2 hours AFTER she ate, and all of her sugar levels were way up in the 200’s!!! She has had her A1C under control since the the first 5 months of being diagnosed 3 years ago, and this just threw her numbers all around! I finally convinced her to have her husband sneak her insulin pen in and to take it as she was instructed to by her Endo doc!
They literally brought her a TV dinner the first night she had her baby! She was not given a choice. I made her a chicken salad (grilled chicken with herbs and spices) on baby lettuces, with homegrown cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and some carrots, along with boiled farm eggs (2) chopped up, grated raw Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade Ranch dressing.
We ended up taking her ALL of her meals as the meals in the hospital were horrible! And none of it was for a diabetic, whether Type I or II.
Lori, that is all just SO wrong, but how blessed she is that you’re her Mom and can help her with this and that you’ve taught her so well!!!
Season, you’re exactly right, it SHOULD be a crime!!! It must be so hard for you to see that as a nurse!!
I just pulled up this post because my hubby just had emergency appendectomy. He’s still on clear fluids, which in their definition is rainbow jello, sugared juices, broth from a mix and coffee. yesterday we brought in some homemade stock and were told he wasn’t allowed to eat it but could have some ginger ale or the above items. I am furious and hope he will disobey their orders but he is scared. The other thing i thought i’d bring today is some herbal teas, even if he takes a weak one it will be more nourishing than just plain water which is all else he’s interested in right now. I have also brought some gelatin to add to his drinks. Anyone have any recommendations? I. May just have to wait until he’s home to give him good stuff. Oh ps….for others who are having surgery or healing, look into Silverlon patches. I just ordered them for hubby affer hearing amazing stories and research about their healing effects. Wish they were offered as a standard of care, because of course you’re not having them on hand when it’s an emergency!
Wow, I’m in shock they won’t let him have homemade stock???????!!!!!!!
And yes, silver is very healing. Colloidal silver can be applied topically, too. 🙂
He is allowed to eat and take whatever food he wants. Nursing homes by law are not allowed restrict his food intact. I encourage families to bring in food. Sadly most food is regulated by the state and nursing home. Where I work, we make most of the stuff ourselves (thankfully.) I wish we could give real syrup and such. We sadly have to round the diet to meet everyone so not a lot of salt or sugar, means a lot of addictives. He can also request whatever food he wants, whenever he wants. Again, it is illegal to restrict the foods.
Felecia Berg says
You wanted to know if there were any nursing homes that fed their clients decent food? I think where my son works tries. Al is a great cook. He tries hard to create nutritious and tasty meals. They could use more tweaking, but old people are also hard to please and used to home cooked ways. Not all elderly have survived on the most nutritious diets. They are the pickiest eaters, often time going on self-inflicted hunger strikes. So… yes many of these homes have deplorable food habits, but in the end it is about money first, and pleasing the client second. Neither of these options is easy.
I think you’re right, that the elderly are usually super picky, probably worse than toddlers!
Oh! I wanted to tell you, too, about an onion pie that my mother absolutely raved about. She said that it was almost entirely onions and BUTTER. Apparently, the nutritionist at the nursing home that mom worked at was experimenting with recipes to try to convince them to use more real foods. Sadly, I think mom said that nutritionist got pushed out or left soon after. 🙁
I’ve never had anything like that pie before but would sure love to try it!
I’ll see if she still has the recipe (I think she had it at one point? ) and try to pass it along. 🙂
Kelly- I just got the recipe from mom! She says it’s actually more of a casserole than a pie.
Onion (Cheese) Casserole
1 1/2 C. Ritz and Saltine crackers in about equal amounts, crushed (obviously we wouldn’t use those brands)
1/2 C. butter, melted
2 1/2 C. onions, thinly sliced
2 TBSP butter
1 1/2 C. milk, scalded
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 lb of your favorite cheese, shredded
Mix crackers with 1st amount of butter. Place in bottom of casserole dish.
Fry onions until lightly browned in 2nd amount of butter. Layer on top of crackers.
Add eggs to scalded milk. Add seasonings, mix well.
Add cheese to milk and eggs. Pour over ingredients in dish.
Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes
Oh. My. Gosh. I’m going to make some sprouted crackers just so I can try this recipe, thank you Lori!
This has been bothering me for a long time. My mother, brother, and sister in law worked in nursing homes for several years, and during one conversation with my brother, he pointed out that the only reason that nursing (and assisted living facilities) homes cost SO much is because they’re so poorly run. He pointed out that all inclusive resorts often have much higher expenses, but actually manage to make a good profit while providing the customers with a wonderful experience. His idea was to build an assisted living/nursing home and run it on a hospitality industry plan with medical care provided. His idea became my dream. I want to see this happen SO bad. And while it would be nice to provide only wholly Real Foods, I suspect that the residents might put up as much of a fight as their misguided doctors. So my plan would be to offer choice (based on the Disney World hotel food courts). Grilled selections here, good home style food here, treats over here, and then try to keep the quality of the ingredients as high as possible. Honestly, I think having a large garden (herbs and veggies) and a small-ish animal farm would help to keep quality high and costs low.
I’ll stop babbling- I have a LOT of plans involved for something like this to work out well, but for the scale that I’m looking at, it would take about $30 million in today’s economy to start, and I just don’t see investors going for a business model that actually puts its customers first. :-/ If only I could find a wealthy philanthropist…
What a noble dream, I’ll say a prayer that just the right wealthy philanthropist finds you! 🙂
🙂 Thank you! Seriously- my sister in law’s new boss is a hearing doctor and he wants to train her to become one as well. Maybe I’m just really narcissistic, but it almost seems to me like God’s pushing all the key people into the key positions to actually do this. Everything but the $, anyway. 🙂
So is the food they give to low income seniors and families. When I saw it I thought, “maybe they want to kill them off and get out of paying Social Security”. Peanut butter with hydrogenated oil, soups with HFCS, UHT Milk, frequently past date. The only good thing they do is the seniors and families with WIC get vouchers for the Farmers’ Market in the summer, but families not on WIC don’t get them. very sad.
I was an activity assistant at an assisted care facility in 2006 – 2007. I too was appalled at the enormous amount of canned and convenience foods the residents were fed. High sodium content, full of carbs and other sugars and more sodium, no fresh fruits, and the only fresh vegetable being the occasional iceberg lettuce salad. Sadly, many of the residents had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease – they just ate what was put in front of them.
My own mother had Alzheimer’s – developed after a lifetime of absorption issues, surgeries, and eventually a colostomy. I’m convinced that her awful eating habits greatly contributed to her conditions. Why are there no reasonably-priced alternative care facilities that offer real food nutrition for their residents? It is a crime what we are doing to these precious elder members of our society.
Shirley Rosenberry says
I agree with you 100% I know what you are saying is true. as I am a resident in a Nurseing home. There food is like a fast food menu.A lot of fat and fake food I call it. I always was a person that liked my vegetables and fresh fruit.I will say that this summer we did have some watermelon which was pretty decent but canaloupe and honeydew served was not ripe and to hard for elderly people to eat.What can we do about it the Doctors who come to the home don’t seem to care about the resident’s diet.Here where I am at the diabetic gets the same diet as we all do. Just give them more insulin if their sugar is high.It’s a terrible health system we have no wonder we have the Medicare system going broke. But the federal government don’t seem to care about the elderly and the diets they are being servered just recently they are changing the menus at the schools but what about the elderly.Maybe if we complain to our Senators & Repesentives by letters that we wanted something done about the fake food being served in Nurseing homes maybe they would do something.I don’t believe that’s the way to treat our elders.We are to have respect for them.It is no wonder our debt and Medicare is soaring out of control.Just a few little simple things would help
Barbara Harrington says
I have a dear friend who has been in a nursing home for 11 years now. She is 85 and had a serious stroke 14 years ago. She lived in my home for 3 years.
I agree that nursing home food is terrible! Once in a while, they manage to present something that sort of tastes good, but not often enough.
As to my friend, the percentage of people who actually live that long in a nursing home is minuscule.
I attribute her longevity to the fact that I provide her with fresh fruit daily and once in a while something home cooked.. Plus nearly daily visits.
It is the government & the corporations. All about the bottom line. The folks I deal directly with in the nursing home are sympathetic, but feel quite powerless.
Ugh, I know what you mean. My husband’s grandpa has horrible heart problems — such that we’ve been told he was on his death bed several times, and the paramedics know him by name. Then I go into the kitchen at their house, and there’s Grandma, pouring “100% vegetable oil” (what vegetable, I wonder? kale?) into his salad. His other favorite food is instant oatmeal (“reduces risk of heart disease!”) with Smart Balance on it. Yikes. And they wonder where he got so many heart problems.
This is a sore spot for me. My Gran, the most loving and wonderful and adventurous woman I’ve ever known, ended up in a nursing home with Alzheimers. She was 4’8″, and gained 4 dress sizes in her time there because they weren’t allowed, by law, to not offer her food -endless meals and snacks, pretzels, fat-free puddings, Boost and Ensure shakes. The worst. And at that point, she ate by instinct, never refused food. To me, it felt like it was compounding the tragedy of her situation. All of that nutritional nonsense that may have contributed to her disease to begin with (all of those years with the doctors hounding her about her cholesterol, and the drugs, the endless drugs…).
Georgia Brinkley says
I have just been thinking exactly the same thing! These elderly folks NEED real food. The junk they are fed is only making their conditions worse, it’s a crime! I’ve been wondering what should be done to change this. Real nutrition classes for those managing the nursing homes? Or, are they mandated by the gov. to provide gov. approved food?
Commenter via Facebook says
Seen it many times….your statement is true, for the most part.
Commenter via Facebook says
Joy, you’re right, but that word made it a better post title. 🙂
Commenter via Facebook says
I’m with you on the junk part of the story but NOTHING that we chose to eat should be made illegal. The government should not be allowed to tell us what we can and can’t eat!
Lori @ Laurel of Leaves says
You’re definitely not off-point to freak out over this. It breaks my heart to see my husband’s grandfather eating that way with so, so many health problems. A long life doesn’t honestly mean much if you’re suffering through the last half of it with ailments! 🙁
Hubby’s grandma moved into one of those “retirement villages” nearly two years ago. She is now 91. Prior to moving in, she was healthy, active, etc. Now, she she gained about 40 lbs, and is always sick. The food they serve in that place is horrid. The only veg is canned and then boiled beyond recognition. I can’t even describe the meat. The tables look like the pic above. It’s seriously disturbing, and I wish that I could do something. I give her gift baskets of real food every holiday.
Melanie, One Wellness says
I have worked as a manager for a small group home for the developmentally disabled, and one of my main campaigns as manager was to improve the food quality for the residents. My supervisors all rolled their eyes as I revamped the pantry to include real foods and they cringed when I threw out the margarine and loaded the ladies up with real fats. Sadly I had to leave very detailed instructions for the care givers so that they would know how to prepare fresh vegetables and whole grains. But there was no mistaking the truth in Real Food when each of the residents lost weight and some were able to stop taking their stool softeners.
Small changes like these may someday add up to a complete revamp of the “system.” I can only hope anyway…
So encouraging! Good for you
I’m not as far along on my journey to eating whole real foods, yet. But this post reminded me of the fact that our congress just passed something today stating that spaghetti sauce (mostly chemically engineered, I suspect) counts as a vegetable in our kids school lunches. So sad!
Aside from the nasty additives in most commercial versions of such things, I am having trouble understanding why people are upset about this, & would love it if someone would explain. Tomato sauce is cooked-down (i.e. concentrated) tomatoes. Tomatoes are used as a veggie, even if they are botanically a fruit, & they are very nutritious. Also, the average serving of spaghetti sauce is likely to include at least as much tomato as would be considered a serving, if they were being eaten whole. And tomatoes retain nutrition through the canning process better than most veggies. When I make spaghetti at home, with my own homemade sauce, each person is getting at least a couple of servings of tomato, plus onions and bell peppers and mushrooms. So what is the big deal?
Catherine H. says
I believe few institutions prepare tomato sauce as healthfully as it sounds like you do. Typical prepared canned sauces contain preservatives, corn syrup, and soybean oil, not to mention the pesticides on the original plant. Plus, what is tomato sauce usually served with? Pizza, spaghetti, sloppy joes (all made with the worst quality ingredients); for institutions to be able to check the daily “vegetable” box by serving the above is rather disgusting.
Commenter via Facebook says
Horrifying. Of all of the people out there, those in nursing homes (and hospitals) are some of the ones most desperately needing nutritious, real foods.
Commenter via Facebook says
The food I used to feed my patients…you don’t even want to know. The “heart healthy” diets were insane along with the diabetes diets. And the salt free seasoning packets? Also, I wondered why soda was even an option. All the purees (for patients with swallowing issues) were thickened with weird powder and loaded with table salt and sugar. So glad I don’t work in a hospital anymore! I have seen things that no young woman should ever have to see.
I have seen an improvement in hospital food, and at some hospitals, they have a menu you can order from, so you can choose healthy foods, and there are gluten-free and dairy-free options for those with allergies (my husband and I don’t tolerate wheat and dairy, except goat dairy). Nursing home food, on the other hand, is probably still crap everywhere. When my father was in a nursing home for 2 weeks to rehab after surgery, I noticed the food was much worse than when he was in the hospital, even though he was in a top-notch nursing home (and at this “top-notch” home, there was an intestinal bug going around that he got and I even got, just from visiting). Yes, nursing home food is appalling and it’s a shame that we can’t have the elderly living with extended families, but since there are few extended families anymore, it’s not always practical to have the elderly living with one of their children (if there is just one child or the children are scattered around the country). We need to create communities of people again that have all ages of people, instead of segregating people by age.
I wonder what would be a good homemade substitute for Ensure or Pediasure. Would you consider posting a recipe (s) that is based on WAPF principles sometime, Kelly? Or, maybe some of the readers would be interested in submitting ideas and we can have a bunch of recipes to choose from. My neighbor’s toddler is underweight and her Dr. put him on Pediasure. All that stuff makes me cringe, and I know that if forward thinking individuals can come up with excellent baby formula alternatives, we can come up with some great alternatives for older children and the elderly.
I think soup made with homemade broth would be better.
I think broth is a GREAT idea, or also something like this:
My younger sister is in a nursing home and I can totally make her week by taking fresh fruit or baby carrots and salad to her. She has numerous health problems that aren’t made any better by the food in the nursing home. She can’t eat pork because of a health issue and so they often substitute yet another chicken patty or chicken with goo as she calls it. The only “fruit” served is applesauce. I know part of the diet issue in nursing homes is choke hazard issues but surely they can do better.
I agree that the ‘food’ here is deplorable.
But I can’t go with you on the “should be illegal” aspect. After all, it was the GOVERNMENT who promoted it’s (various) food pyramids, the vegetable-oil nonsense, the vilification of butter. It was the GOVERNMENT who decided cattle would thrive as cannibals, that grain should be subsidized so we can pen everyone in CAFOs, that corn syrup is just like sugar… I could go on… Putting the GOVERNMENT in charge of our food hasn’t worked anywhere else, why should it work in a nursing home? Good change will come about when WE make the changes, when WE take care of our elders, when WE take responsibility for our family’s nutrition… 🙂
[I realize the illegal thing may have been rhetorical, but to many it’s not. Just thought I’d put my perspective in there! ]
This is why I blame our govt for allowing this to happen.
Katie @ Mexican WIldflower says
I feel the same. I remeber visting my grandma in a nursing home and watching my dad help feed her her “smoothie” which was really a blended up bolony sandwhich and macaroni salad that everyone else was could was eating.
Angie D says
I feel so much less “weird” now! Thank you, Kelly, thank you, fellow commenters. I work with seniors & I see this every single day. It’s simply criminal. The food, the massive amounts of pills to counteract the effects of the food, the side effects of the pills, which require more pills…sometimes I can barely sleep at night. You’re absolutely right that our government approves all this junk. I would just add that the producers of this junk (corporate “farms”) should bear responsibility as well for creating massive environmental (poisoned soil/water/air) as well as human damage. Can’t imagine how they sleep at night.
Thank you again, everyone! I’ll feel a little better going into work today!
In some ways, we can’t blame the previous generation. They were sold the “saturated fat is bad” story for 30 years straight. It was in every magazine, newspaper and tv show or ad. If anyone was the tiniest bit heath conscious, it would have been a no brainer. My grandmother grew up on a farm in Iowa. She was an educated woman in the 1930’s. She married a surgeon. Of course she didn’t breastfeed because she was doing what the modern experts said.
I have a 94 year old friend living in a home and I agree. I hate to see what she’s eating. Every time I come visit her and see the other residents I keep thinking that the crap food they were eating to begin with deteriorated their bodies and minds to the point that they have to now live in these places. My friend is very frail now, but not bedridden. She’s gotten very forgetful since she moved in there. I talked her daughter into bringing some coconut oil in for her. I’m just not sure she remembers to take it everyday.
Stanley Fishman says
Nursing homes are a national disgrace. They are all about money.
Crap factory food is much cheaper than real food. To make a bad situation even worse, the government will pay when nursing homes use artificial food like ensure, but will not pay a penny for real food.
Stanley- You are so right. It’s scary how our government plays. And I fear it will only become worse now that campaign donation caps have been lifted. Now huge corporations will be able to donate unheard of amounts of money to the politicians. In turn, they will expect that politician to repay them by protecting their company. Soon our country will be run by Big Pharma and processed food companies while utilizing the highly compensated politician as their puppet.
Is that a frightening concept, or what?
Stanley Fishman says
Susan, I think it is already here. Big Pharma and the corporations do run our country. and control both parties. Their executives move between top government positions and top corporate positions. Here are a few examples:
Monsanto lawyer Micheal Taylor is appointed to the FDA by President Clinton. He plays a leading part in getting FDA clearance for GMOs, and preventing the labeling of GMOs. He then leaves the FDA and becomes a Monsanto Vice President.
President Obama then appoints the same Micheal Taylor as his food safety adviser, despite great protest by the organic and natural food movement. Taylor is once again in a high position at the FDA, and was quoted in the newspapers when he defended the farm raids.
Dr Julie Geberding, appointed head of the CDC by President Bush, pushes through the approval of the vaccine Gardasil, and puts it on the recommended vaccine list. After President Obama is elected, she goes to work for Merck, the maker of Gardasil, and is now the head of their vaccines division.
There are many other examples, but this is not the time or place to write a book.
This crap makes my blood boil. I notice that it’s bipartisan. Are ALL our leaders idiots, for REAL?????? Not just about food, either, as if you didn’t know. Kent and my brother and I were also just talking about what they’re doing to the financial markets around the country. I can’t think about all of this or I go crazy.
Stanley Fishman says
Kelly, I think they are ALL idiots, for real. Yes, it is bi partisan.
What they are doing to the financial markets is an outrage. Of Course, Obamas treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, comes from the huge Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs, which got a huge bailout from taxpayers. The previous treasury secretary, appointed by Bush, also came from Wall Street.
You are right, you cannot think about this too much or it can drive you wild.
Angie D says
Thank you, thank you, thank you (again) for noting these are huge, interconnected bipartisan issues! Really, this post & all the commenters’ great points have made me feel so much less alone today. You all rock!
This stuff makes me irritated beyond belief. I think Ron Paul is the only candidate that supports our real food issues. He’s for Raw milk! Not sure about vaccines though…
In pertaining to your above post, I was utterly appalled with the hospital food they served me after having my baby (non medicated of course) there was absolutely nothing I could stomach. I promptly had someone bring me food. How could they even call it nourishing? ? Lesson learned …
My grandmother in-law is in a local assisted care facility. We’ve visited during supper a few times, and it is truly horrifying… it breaks my heart every time I read about how food can be SO healing… and I think of the reverse. That “food” or whatever chemical concoction they’re serving can be life-taking. How I wish people in authority could just give real food a try! See the changes! Nope, you’re not the only one. And I’m so thankful you’re out there, so I know I’m not the only one! Keep up the encouraging work, friend. 🙂
Cathy Raymond says
Thank you for writing a post on this Kelly. When I worked at ManorCare corp offices, they were so proud that they could feed a nursing home resident for $2.50/day. It made my stomach churn. That’s no way to honor our elderly. But the problem exists that many of these folks now have taste-buds for this kind of food, and have you ever tried to change your grandmother, or even mother’s mind? Stubborn! Only a doctor’s white coat will make them listen. My mom just told me that WAPF was brainwashing me about butter, all in the context of having an anxiety attack. What to do?
I have to agree with Beth. While it upsets me that there is no choice to eat real food if one wants it, most of the people in the nursing homes I’ve been too have eaten processed foods since the 50s and 60s. My great aunt, a self-proclaimed farm girl who grew up drinking raw milk, eating organic produce and grassfed meat (what else was there?), she had a kitchen full of white processed sugar, low-fat dairy, vegetable oils and shortening, and butter substitutes. Switching to nursing home fare would have been no shock to her (although she lived on her own until she passed away in her late 90s). My grandmother was the same way, with skim milk, vegetable oils (I don’t think she’d used olive oil ever) and processed cereals and crackers.
SAD is so ingrained in our culture, and has been for so long, that most folks don’t notice the fakeness of food in nursing homes, hospitals or universities. While institutional chefs really should be made aware of better options for those they are serving, if people don’t demand real food – I doubt it will ever be served. It is more time consuming and expensive to make – so no institution will switch until they start feeling the repercussions of NOT switching.
The sad thing is that my mom eats that type of food by choice now, so it wouldn’t mean any difference to her if she were in an assisted living environment eating the same. She does eat fruit and vegetables but entrees are mostly microwaved freezer boxes that are “low fat” with fake ingredients.
The sad thing is that my mom eats that type of food by choice now, so it wouldn’t mean any difference to her if she were in an assisted living environment eating the same. She does eat fruit and vegetables but entrees are mostly microwaved freezer boxes that are “low fat” with fake ingredients. I’m convince that what has helped her beat 2 types of cancer is how she ate as a child and growing up, not as an adult.
You’ve hit on one of my pet peeves! I don’t even know where to start! I remember when my father in law was hospitalized with Guillian Barre Syndrome and at the same time diagnosed with diabetes (he was unaware that he had it before). While we were visiting him his dinner was brought to him and the entree was MACARONI AND CHEESE! For a newly diagnosed diabetic! Of course he was on insulin, right? Like you said, hospital and nursing home food is incredible devoid of nutrition and loaded with toxins for patient’s already stressed bodies to try to deal with, but I’ve also always marveled at how CONSTIPATING the food is–for people who are stuck in bed and many who are on pain killers or other constipating medications. But of course, that’s why most of them end up on laxatives or stool softeners. It’s all about the drugs while the most obviously essential element to healing, food, is completely overlooked. And this is usually under the guidance of dieticians… Complicating the situation is budgeting issues that squeeze down so tightly on every department (my husband works at a hospital and deals with this daily), so to overhaul the cafeteria to use real food instead of cheap crap would require financial resources that are not usually available. But if our healthcare paradigm were to turn around so that healthy lifestyle/real food was foundational, far fewer people would even need medical services.
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
You are not the only one freaking out, Kelly. My father-in-law is in a retirement village and has lots of health issues. I so wish he would move in with us. I am so pained every time we visit to see what he and the other residents are eating. Tons of refined carbs and sugar and anemic eggs. I have often joked with my friends that if I ever end up in a place like that, I’ll be dead within a week due to how sensitive I am now and how I thrive on a whole foods diet (w special needs thrown in there too).
We can only hope that our children are learning well and that we won’t be too much of a burden on them in our old age. It really bothers me how many elderly are in these places when in Japan, for example, the majority of older people live with their families. It’s hard, but helps build a proper society where elders are respected instead of hidden away.
Thanks for sharing!
heather b says
I am happy you are “weird”! Great article. My son’s university has been posting pictures of its meals on fb, and I cringe to see their “healthy” offerings. One comment from a student claimed the 2% milk was just water with white color added.
Thank you for all of your informative posts. Happy Thanksgiving!
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