Diet For The Convalescent Patient
( Originally Published 1936 )
Convalescent or invalid diets need not differ fundamentally from the requirements of a balanced diet for a normal person. These requirements are, as we have repeated so often this week, as follows: The diet MUST (1) furnish enough energy to keep the body going; (2) furnish enough material for growth and replacement of tissue waste; (3) furnish enough water, inorganic mineral salts and vitamins; (4) maintain the neutrality of the body; (5) SHOULD furnish enough bulk; (6) SHOULD be digested without discomfort.
Under the heading of bulk and digestibility it is sometimes thought that the invalid or fever patient cannot handle as much as the normal person. There is, however, not as great a difference between them as is generally supposed. In the case of fever, although the patient usually does not have much appetite, it has been found that their assimilation and digestion is about nine-tenths as good as that of a normal person, and it is important that during the period of fever they be fed enough so that convalescence will not be too greatly prolonged.
The important thing is to spare the body tissue, and it has been found that large amounts of sweets and starches (carbohydrates) will do this. The ideal fever diet, therefore, is one that will supply such things as sweetened lemonade, ice cream, cream soups, mashed potatoes and milk.
In convalescence, as from surgical operations or other illness, we need only consider that the patient is confined to bed and, therefore, does not require as much energy as if he were active. Hospitals usually differentiate between regular diet, convalescent diet, soft diet and fluid diet.
The convalescent diet should be of a high nutritive value, more easily digestible and, differing from the fever diet, should contain more protein for rebuilding purposes. A typical convalescent meal is as follows:
Broth or soup with barley or vegetables Bread and butter Milk Potatoes, baked, boiled or mashed Rice, macaroni or hominy Beef, chicken or fish Pudding, ice cream or fruit.
A soft diet is the same as the convalescent diet omitting meat, fish and vegetables.