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Hospitalization and keto

You would expect to be in good hands when it comes to your health in the hospital. For medical treatments, that’s certainly true, but unfortunately, when it comes to healthy nutrition, the mark is often missed. If there’s one place where it’s challenging to stick to this healthy way of eating, it’s there… Hopefully, that will change soon in the future, but until then, you can make good use of the tips in this article.

What does your body need?

Many people still have the stubborn idea that you need a lot of carbohydrates when your body needs to recover from something. Even people who have been eating keto for a long time continue to have this idea. But that doesn’t make any sense. You know from experience that you feel much better when you’re not sick by eating keto, right? So why wouldn’t you choose that when your body is under stress, and you don’t feel well? I assume you want to be fit, healthy, and recovered as soon as possible, right? Don’t let anyone tell you that you need more carbohydrates when you need to recover. Say no to sugary snacks, fruit juices, and high-carb meals because they won’t help you get stronger; they will only make it harder for your body. When you eat healthy keto, you are nourishing your body perfectly with enough vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins.

The food available in the hospital

Unfortunately, most hospital food is very high in carbohydrates. There are low-carb options such as boiled/fried eggs, a bowl of plain yogurt, butter, some slices of cheese, deli meats, and vegetables (mainly available only for the main meal), but that’s about it… So, assume in advance that you will need to bring your own things or perhaps have your visitors bring them.

Proper preparation

Unfortunately, sometimes there is an unplanned hospitalization, and in that case, proper preparation is not an option. However, in most cases, it’s a planned admission, such as for surgery. In that case, you can prepare very well.

In case of surgery

The pre-operative consultation with the nurse: Also, during the intake with the nurse, indicate that you follow a healthy ketogenic diet and that you do not want to deviate from it. Ask about the possibilities of bringing your own food and storing it in the ward. Is there, for example, a refrigerator available for patients? Can and will the nursing staff heat something up for you? What are the rules for storing food in the refrigerator (think about labels, packaging type, how long it can stay there, etc…).

For during your stay

– Select meals in advance that can be stored well and are still tasty when reheated. For breakfast/lunch, you could go for a delicious chia pudding or a piece of keto bread, and for dinner, opt for a well-filled soup or casserole, for example. Need inspiration? Take a look at these delicious recipes, many of them are perfect for bringing along or reheating.
– Make sure you have snacks readily available. You can keep a bag of mixed nuts, some MCT chocolate bars, an avocado, or some Bifi sausages in your nightstand, for example.
– If you can use a patient refrigerator, you can also store a jar of olives, some cheese cubes, slices of sausage, pieces of fresh coconut, a tube of mayonnaise, etc. in there.

Breakfast and Lunch

Usually, you can choose from bread, crackers, currant buns, rusk, and rice cakes as a base with various types of toppings. Of course, this is not suitable for you… Indicate that you do not want those products and ask for extra options for toppings such as cheese and sausage. The most ideal situation is if you can bring your own keto bread or crackers, then you can enjoy them with the topping options provided by the hospital. You can find delicious recipes for that in this cookbook. Often, boiled or fried eggs are also offered, which are, of course, excellent options. Avoid scrambled eggs, as they are often made from a starch-rich powder.

The Warm Meal

If you don’t have the opportunity to provide a warm meal yourself (through visitors who can bring this, or by storing and reheating it in the patient refrigerator), then it’s best to ask for modifications to the meals offered by the hospital. Sometimes you can request these modifications in advance, but often they don’t do this and you will have to make the adjustments on your plate yourself. It’s standard for someone to come by in the morning to ask what you’d like to eat that day (or you’ll receive a list that you can fill out yourself). Opt for vegetables without sauce (sauces often contain a lot of sugar and starch), meat/fish/poultry without gravy and without a breadcrumb layer, and of course, skip the potatoes, rice, and pasta. Ask if you can get extra vegetables instead of the potato, rice, and pasta. Salads are often a good option, but ask for them without dressing! Dressings often contain a lot of sugar. If there are croutons, pasta, or potatoes included, fish them out, of course. 😉 If there’s a breadcrumb layer around your piece of meat or a sauce over your food, try to scrape it off as well.
It can be helpful to have a bottle of olive oil in your nightstand so that you can drizzle it over the vegetables, salad, and meat of the main meal to get some extra fats. After all, fats are your fuel, while hospitals often offer low-fat meals. A salt shaker can also be very welcome, as food is often prepared with lower salt content. And since you specifically need extra salts because you follow a ketogenic diet, it’s important to make sure you get them. You can read more about the importance of salt in a low-carb lifestyle here .

Good to Know

Because knowledge about ketogenic nutrition is unfortunately not included in medical training (at the time of writing), there’s a very high chance that you’ll encounter resistance from the hospital regarding your dietary preferences. This is not due to unwillingness but rather due to a lack of knowledge. Never forget that you have the final say in what happens with your body. You always have the right to refuse treatment or specific foods. Of course, your health should always be your top priority. Engage in conversation and remain patient. It’s good to communicate your viewpoints and boundaries, but a friendly conversation will get you further than getting angry. So calmly explain why this way of eating is important to you and what results you’ve achieved with this dietary approach.


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