Disaster food for diabetics at a Canadian hospital

A healthy meal for diabetics?

When a person with diabetes ends up in the hospital, they should be able to expect decent food. Something that does not make them sick. Food that does not spike their blood sugar, requiring extra medications.

Unfortunately, there is a high risk of severe disappointment. There’s a high risk that the hospital food will be dreadful, and even dangerous.

Here’s a disastrous example from a Canadian hospital. Bread, potatoes, skim milk and grapes – a perfect storm for sending the poor diabetic patient’s blood sugar sky high. This requires extra insulin. Worst case, the result can be a hypo event, and a need for more carbs, keeping the health-destroying roller coaster going.

It’s a disgrace when organizations responsible for people’s health end up instead damaging it, due to this level of complete ignorance.

A better way

A Low-Carb Diet for Beginners

How to Reverse Your Diabetes Type 2


The Worst Dietary Advice Ever?

British Doctors: “Ban the Selling of Junk Food at Hospitals!”


  • My low-carb story with Marc Gossange
  • My success story with Kenneth Russell
  • Part 8 of Dr. Jason Fung's diabetes course
  • A low-carb story with Dr. Sanjeev Balakrishnan


  1. Steven
    Primum non nocere. #SMH
  2. Kimberly Barus
    Ok so what can we do to prevent this? What's a plan for avoiding this? Helpful advice please!
  3. Leanne S.
    That looks like a pile of corn under the mashed potato dome. From my experience as a patient in a Canadian hospital, that looks exactly like the crap they typically serve. And the "meat" is always the lowest, crappiest quality, totally disgusting, leading many to refuse to eat it. Kind nurses may quietly suggest opting for the lacto-ovo diet, as you at least get semi-edible cheese and eggs. If you do not have someone to bring you food, you will starve. The meal tray racks are filled with uneaten food after the trays are collected, and the morale of the patients is very low, as meals are anticipated with dread.

    Some people like hospital food. Those who eat a lot of processed food don't mind it, but if you are used to real food, it's inedible.

  4. Niklas
    Some say that preventable medical errors persist as the No. 3 killer – third only to heart disease and cancer, when I look at the food I find that to be plausible.

    I've only been given hospital food once in my life and I believe that "50 shades of brown" would be fitting description.

  5. Pierre
    Do they have the choice to offer something else?

    These people ended up in the hospital mostly because of a bad diet.

    Do you really think that if you offer them wild Keta salmon with asparagus they will eat it?

    The meal will end up in the trash can and they will ask for the junk food on the picture.

  6. Maura
    Here's an older link (2010) with a great list of ideas for shifts in hospital food -- in other words, it can be done!

    From linking to more local food growers, to altering cafeteria menus, to thinking about the entire food cycle (including composting), there have been some dramatic shifts in a few short years.

  7. gbl
    The hospital here, which has just built a "state of the art" multi million dollar chock-a-block with specialists sourced from all over the world centre, has: a main floor food court with brand name pizza, burger, fried chicken, pasta, ice cream and other sweets, plus food machines businesses. Virtually eeryone ambulatory goes down to buy their own food. It's all "fast food" category. The website doesn't name them, but it's all the usual encompassed in their description: " Third-party operated food and drink outlets, and vending machines ..."
  8. gbl
    Meant to say "Cardiovasular centre."
  9. Apicius
    These guys running the hospital are geniuses. They maintain high customer demand rate by extending their patients' sick stay at the hospital and increase rate of sickness relapse. This ensures dominance of market share. And the profit margin on getting paid to serve food made from low quality, cheap ingredients keeps bottom line going strong and steady. Brilliant business strategy!!
  10. Gary McLeod
    This is from St Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg Manitoba Canada. My dad was in for a coronary stent. This meal was brought 10 min after he was scolded for having a blood sugar reading of 16mm/L. He fired back, "because you gave me juice." Thank goodness I brought him blended veggies, butter and ground beef. He did not eat this meal.
    Reply: #11
  11. Apicius
    Wasn't it in Manitoba a few years ago where a mother was charged with providing her child with "unacceptable" school lunch (containing home made beef stew with vegetables, if I remember correctly). The "expert" school nutritionists gave the "abused" child wheat crackers, in order to make sure grains was part of the child's diet, and sent the child home with a stern written warning from the school nutritionist Gestapo.
  12. Pete
    What an absurd story. I was in a US hospital cafeteria yesterday and their cafeteria had some acceptable LCHF foods, but many of them processed and Confined Animal Feed Operation) CAFO in nature. I found full fatted mild (no cream), I saw kielbasa sausage, sausage patties and scrambled eggs on their hot-table. And a short order cook could make eggs to order. It is my belief that patients can order food from the cafeteria instead of what is shuttled to their rooms. Maybe this can help. But overall, the food was disappointing, and I was quite happy I was fasting.
  13. Jennifer Bowerman
    When people such a dieticians in hospitals don't know any better, they are blinded by their own ignorance and paradoxically their own certainty that what they are doing is ok. As well, when the dietitians, the food preparers, the medical staff, and the patients never communicate with each other, and don't associate the rise in blood sugar with anything that they are doing, and just blame it on the patients' individual reaction to the disease, then nothing can change! Sad. It is about thinking systematically, seeing the whole picture and not just a small part of it!
  14. Kathy
    My husband had a stroke last year, and I credit his stay in a US hospital with getting him completely addicted to sugar. If he didn't ask for dessert when ordering his meals, the "nutritionist" would ask what he wanted for dessert! At first when he said nothing, they would offer a piece of fruit. By the end of his stay, he was asking what he could order for dinner so that he could have a piece of apple pie. Now that he is home, he eats something sugary after every meal and sucks on hard candy constantly. Nothing I say will get through to him.
  15. Nina
    This is terrible, disastrous!
  16. Mia mia
    Dietitians are in charge it seems and then hospitals hire "cooks" who cannot do what they want because they are limited by budget and forced to cook the meal plans presented to "cut costs". Unfortunately also, the time limits are in place to cut the number of people in the kitchens...so to be "thrifty" and save adding more staff, the cook has to open packages of soups and add water ( high fat and high salt and loaded with preservatives). Then the omelets are done the same way..
    Packaged cakes, cookies, potatoes, gravies, etc are on menu. They buy the cheapest breads with no fiber, and margarine takes the place of butter. This is what I see happening. Years ago, it was not like that. People had real cooked food.. it seems that the almighty dollar dictates how people eat in hospital with the actual livelihood of the patient is lost. This has become a disaster and our residents in long term care are the ones that really suffer as they are stuck there because that is their home and they have no say! Pretty big disaster.
    Reply: #31
  17. Lisa
    As a volunteer I assist patients with meals and am shocked at the junk they're fed. It's shameful.
  18. Yinka
    My husband was in the hospital with out of control blood sugar (readings in the 300s) and a diabetes-related infection on his leg. For breakfast, they brought him pancakes, syrup (not sugar-free), oatmeal, an egg, milk and orange juice. When I expressed outrage that they would serve that to a diabetic, the person who delivered the meal looked at her chart, then removed the orange juice. Apparently, that was the part of the meal that did not meet their dietary guidelines for a diabetic.
  19. Pip
    Actually my daughter was in an Australian hospital and I was very impressed with the food. You could have eggs for breakfast and meat with vegetables for lunch and dinner - and butter! Of course you could choose carb options like bread, cereal and dessert, but you didn't have to. It is a public hospital too.
  20. Jennie
    2 years ago my 33 year old pregnant daughter was hospitalised for over 10 weeks with Pericarditis. She was at one point in a very serious condition.
    The diet she was offered was very poor. Breakfast = cereals, white bread, margarine, jam. Lunch was more grey stodgy, and supper was the same.
    I complained and begged for a better choice for her as not only was she trying to repair her body, she was 'growing a baby'!!
    We ended up taking casseroles, eggs, cheese, full fat yogurt, seeds and nuts in for her, in a cool bag. We were told that because she was 'healthy' apart from the Pericarditis when she was admitted to hospital she didn't qualify for a special diet.
  21. Katherine
    I was in a hospital for smashed face and fractured jaw (bicycle accident) and was unable to get any real food at all. TG my mom brought me smoothies w greens and hi protein homemade shakes to drink bc I couldn't eat at all . I got out unscathed thanks to my independent food supply....lucky me.
  22. Elaine Worner
    Had a night in a major teaching hospital and the only item diabetic safe was the cup of tea. Fruit juice, white bread, margarine, cereal. Fruit juice had around 20gm of sugar.

    Less sugar in the non diabetic dinner.

  23. Winsome
    Well I think the food here is bought into the Hospital already prepared like Airline food, only worse I'm sure, my Husband was in last year and it was bad, a Diabetic nightmare
  24. Orchid
    If you are in hospital in Ottawa Ontario the first day you are subjected to whatever food can be found. If you are in hospital longer and you are around to fill out a menu card you can choose your meal. If what you want isn't on the menu card there is space for special requests. My last stay in hospital I requested salads with oil and vinegar, eggs, cheeses, etc. for the most part I got what I asked for (no full fat cream though I asked for it). However, you do have to work at getting a good diet in hospital as their default is low cost crap. I don't think most people know they can ask for special diet items. Plus, we only look at menu choices in hospitals under stressful circumstances. Maybe we should be pressuring hospitals and care facilities to improve choices before we actually get there.
  25. Julie Adams
    this is not just happening in Canada - I just spent 24 hours in my local hospital - Caboolture, Australia - and was given for breakfast the following

    One slice of white bread
    Orange Juice
    Hot water to have with either tea bag or coffee sachet

    The only thing that I could have was the black coffee !

  26. 1 comment removed
  27. robert lipp
    the really sad part is that if you are in a hospital for trauma then your BG can rise from the trauma. high BG adversely affects the trauma healing process. then you are given carbs!

    stupid is as stupid does and that is mandated by doctors in charge - sad very sad.

  28. Kris
    I was in a US hospital with septic shock a couple of years ago. The food I got was exactly like the the photo from Canada. I was able to get a chicken breast (no skin) some canned green beans, and hot tea one evening because the carb laden chicken cordon bleu has Swiss cheese in it, I am violently allergic. I requested low carb since the food they were giving me wasn't good for a diabetic but it did not change. My family brought in burgers without the bun and salad for me to eat for the 4 days I was there.
  29. Pat P.
    The cafeterias can be just as bad. My husband was in ICU, so I was at the hospital a lot. Went to the cafeteria a couple of times and all the sandwiches had mayonnaise on them instead of butter. I could have picked off the sandwich contents but for the mayonnaise. Hot food had to be ordered in the day before, excuse me why would I be doing that and how could I for an unexpected trip to the cafeteria.
    Everything else had egg in it, and of course I am allergic to that.
    Ended up taking a packed lunch bag with me and I feed myself and his other visitors. We ate in the visitors lounge whenever we were asked to leave his bedside.
    Goodness knows what my husband was being feed as it was an awful grey liquid in a tube.
    When he came out and went to the ward the food was not that good. It was better 3 years earlier when he was in the same hospital. Lovely salmon and salad and other lovely food, but not now.
    Reply: #32
  30. Barbro Esbjörnsdotter
  31. Apicius
    Mia Mia,
    I have a hard time accepting that the food in the picture is the result of cost cutting alone. I have had heated arguments with the so-called "nutritionists" in hospitals, and it's like talking to a brick wall that only responds with condescending remarks. You can indeed make a proper meal with the same cost of the rubbish we see in the picture. For example, roasting a whole chicken and pulling it apart with your hands takes an experienced chef literally seconds to do. The cost and timing is on par with the meat shown in the picture. Minimal or no cost difference between skim and whole milk. And many other examples. These meals are primarily set by nutritionists with misguided expertise and lack of creativity.
  32. RJR
    Mayonnaise is a mainstay of my LCHF/Keto diet: For lunch, I have a salad of lettuce/sweet pepper/ celery/cucumber/etc. with 50+ml of olive/avocado oil, 25 of apple cider vinegar, 30g each of various cheeses (3 or 4 varieties) and Hellmann's mayonnaise-being made of oil and eggs, it has zero carbs and lots of fat. Salad dressing like Miracle Whip is to be avoided.
    Reply: #33
  33. Apicius
    Sounds like you have a good eating plan. However, perhaps consider the ingredients in the hellmans mayonnaise. What type of oil is it? Canola? Vegetable? Soya? Usually not very healthy and high in omega 6. A healthier version would be making the mayo yourself (with better oil) or if that's not possible, add boiled eggs with extra olive/avocado oil to your salad. If you finely dice or mash the eggs with the oil, you get a lovely sauce, too.
  34. Tim
    I found this mayonnaise recipe, looks and tastes as good or better than store bought, without the bad stuff in it. The secret seems to be to use a tall narrow container and an immersion mixer. I used cold pressed avocado oil.
    It's quite amazing the transformation of the egg and oil into white mayonnaise as you mix a few seconds with the immersion mixer.


    One WHOLE large or extra-large fresh egg (apparently size does matter here. Make sure you use a large or extra large egg, else you might need to add an extra one)
    One cup Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil

    The juice of half a lemon or lime (about 2-3 teaspoons) or an equivalent quantity of vinegar. Any vinegar will do, but my favorite one to use is Apple Cider Vinegar.
    A generous pinch of salt

Leave a reply

Reply to comment #0 by

Older posts