Hadassah Medical Center in Yerushalayim is the first hospital in the country to offer meals to all patients that will be lower in fat, sugar, and other less-desirable diet components. The healthy meals will initially be offered to young patients, and eventually to all patients, the hospital said.
The menus were developed over the past few months by Hadassah’s chief chef, Amit Ziv, and the hospital’s head dietitian, Rivka Harari. “The meals were developed as a result of the greater consciousness of the need for healthy eating, especially among children, and the general lack of healthy eating among that group, which tends to consume empty calories and manufactured food.” With that, she added, the menu needed to be set keeping in mind that they were being offered in a hospital setting, and that individual patients had specific needs that had to be accommodated. Nevertheless, an effort will be made to use healthy ingredients, like whole grains, monosaturated oils and lower-fat ingredients.
According to Ziv, “it is very important to me that children hospitalized here feel at home, and that they eat things that they enjoy, like burgers – except that the burger we prepare is from meat we grind ourselves, so we know what it contains. We prepare potato wedges that look like french fries, but are not deep-fried, and the chocolate milk we serve is low-sugar. It looks like the food kids like, but its nutritional value is much higher.”
The hospital has presented the menus to Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, who was “very enthusiastic” about the change, Hadassah said. Minister Rabbi Litzman has been on an aggressive campaign to reduce the amount of junk food in the Israeli diet. According to statistics supplied by the Central Bureau of Statistics and analyzed by the Ministry, 44 percent of Israelis – nearly one out of two – are overweight or obese, and the same is true of 21 percent of first graders. By seventh grade, 30 percent of kids are overweight. In the past, Rabbi Litzman said that among the biggest “victims” of junk food was the chareidi public. Children are often “treated” to snacks at Talmud Torahs and shuls after they participate in learning sessions, and that practice needed to stop, or at least adjusted in order to prompt children to eat healthier.