How to Survive Hospital Food and Have a Stress Free Hospital Stay

Today our dogs tried to murder each other. I, of course, tried to stop them from murdering each other. In my effort to remove Candy’s teeth from Carly’s throat I somehow got bit.

Do these dogs not realize that I am already in ridiculous pain?!

I think I’m safer in the hospital! Luckily a few hours after getting bit and getting extremely angry at the mutts I was in the shuttle on my way to the hospital for my spine surgery and two-day stay at Monrovia Memorial Hospital.

My boyfriend and I were working on week two of eating super healthy and I was not going to let my hospital stay mess that up. I went to the hospital with a bag packed full of healthy snacks and I was super prepared!

When I came to after the surgery about nine a.m. I was nowhere near hungry even though I barely had dinner the night before. I was nervous about the surgery, highly stressed about the bullshit the insurance company had been dragging me through for two days and pissed at the dogs for being jerks today of all days. I could barely eat my salad I had made for my dinner!

At noon a plate of waxy hospital food was placed in front of me. Even if I had been ravenous I don’t think I could have eaten the mush set in front of me.

” Ok

I might need a smoothie” I thought to myself.

A nurse brought me “soup” and told me it might be chicken.

It might be beef

She didn’t know. Fair enough, I have friends who work in hospitals and they said that sometimes when food is transported in a refrigerated shipping container, sometimes there is a lot to sort through and sometimes it may be difficult to know what it what. But I let it slide as I knew I was better in hospital than I was at home with the dogs.

Also on my tray was a Blue Bonnie ice cream bar… You know the one with Listeria?

The first ingredient was corn syrup the second ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. It didn’t even have a flavor listed! I’m assuming the flavor is corn syrup?

My first hint for surviving hospital food?

Be prepared.

I was expecting the hospital food to be bland, and indistinguishable.

I wasn’t to far off, as I glared at the dinner that showed up for me later in the evening; waxy pasta that had a pile of pale chicken piled on top. This right here, made me so happy that I had prepared with my second hint for a hospital stay.

Pack healthy snacks

I packed two Cliff Bars, some dehydrated bananas I dried myself, and some organic Pure brand fruit strips.

Beg your visitors to bring healthy premade snacks! I didn’t want flowers during my hospital stay; I wanted a freshly made smoothie!

If you have guests visiting you, ask them to bring you a fresh juice, smoothie or salad from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

When I was in the hospital my friends brought me a coconut, banana and orange smoothie in the morning.

In the afternoon another friend brought me a date, banana and walnut butter smoothie plus a kale and broccoli slaw salad. Believe me; I ate better than anyone in that hospital that night!

Be prepared for bad coffee

Usually if I go to a coffee shop or Peet’s coffee I’m completely happy with just a cappuccino or coffee with cream. I don’t need sweetener in my coffee or a frappacino or anything fancy.

When staying some where you expect the coffee to be bad; a hotel or a hospital stay I bring those travel size hazelnut creamers.

I know, I know, they are full of hydrogenated oils and soy but they make horrible coffee taste better. For me, it’s not something I have in my diet all the time, so I rationalize it that way.

Be prepared with dietary supplements

Bring a Baggie with your vitamins, vitamin C and Emergencee.
Hospitals are full of sick people. You don’t need to be in there any longer and you don’t want to get home from the hospital finally and get a little cold while recovering!

If you are expecting to have to be on narcotics in the hospital I recommend bringing some smooth move tea bags as well. Because it’s bad enough being in the hospital; it’s worse when you are backed up!

Bring the hospital travel necessities.

Eye mask, ear plugs, head phones ( for watching Netflix on your tablet or phone) at least one good book, Chapstick, tampons, etc.

These little items will make your hospital stay go so much smoother and as pleasant as possible.


  1. GiGi Eats

    I remember when I was in the hospital thanks to the removal of my large intestine… I didn’t eat for 6 days!!!!! Well the first 3 days I wasn’t allowed, but then they started bringing me things, but I REFUSED because all the added ingredients! UGH. Then my mom was allowed to take me out of the hospital early (she’s a doctor) so I was able to once again control the ingredients in my food!! I am sorry to hear about your stitches! UGH!

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  2. Bethany

    That’s just so nuts that the food is that bad! I’ve never stayed in a hospital, but ow that I think of it the only time I have seen someone eat there it was pudding. You’d think they’d be getting some healthy fare in there to help stabilize people. Such a horrible system!

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      Amber Woodyard

      I know, right? I mean I understand that healthy food costs money but how can people get well eating crap?

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    1. Amber

      My dad loves hospital food! ( when my mom was in the hospital last summer he enjoyed all her meals!) weird.

  3. gretchen

    from my two 24hour stays due to birth of my kiddos….and form a hospital hater…. good advice!
    I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink a thing my entire labor but I’m not a stickler for rules..sure they say no eating or drinking incase they need to anesthetize you, but people get anesthetized in emergencies, they don’t say sorry your leg broke off in that car wreck but since you are four hours ago, come back in ten ok? so….i brought honey and water. Then as soon as labor completed, my husband got me some tasty stir fry. the only gluten free food at the hospital was jello with cool whip, bleck, such fake food! my mother in law is diabetic and they brought her apple juice, mashed potatoes with gravy, bread, and meatloaf….for someone who can;t have much sugar/carbs!

  4. Nancy Andres @ Colors of Joy Blog

    Sorry that you were hurt and required surgery. I would be put-off too by the food they served you in the hospital. It’s hard to believe “health care providers?” planned that menu. You did take empowering steps to deal with lack of real food. Saw this at the HHGN Party Hop. Please stop by and visit me to learn about July Colors. Nancy Andres

  5. Marla

    Hi Amber,
    Sure hope you are feeling better and recovering from your surgery. I love your ideas about what to take with you to the hospital. Most hospital food is terrible and taking your own food and supplement is a most. About 2 years ago I had to have a surgery and I had to take my own sheets, food, supplements, to survive a over night stay due to my many allergies. Thanks for sharing you great ideas and info on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & twitted.

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      Amber Woodyard

      Wow, you had to take your own sheets too? That is pretty crazy! Thanks for hosting the link up again this week!

  6. Deborah Davis

    It is amazing how unhealthy most hospital food is. In view of that I always bring fresh fruit, salads, nuts, herbal teas, suppplements and other healthy items to the hospital when a family member is ill. Your tips are right on point! An Ipod, Ipad and Netflix are a must! Thanks for sharing How to Survive Hospital Food and Have a Stress Free Hospital Staywith us on the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I’m pinning and sharing.

  7. deepa sannidhi

    Great post! Definitely a good idea to take something to help move your bowels when you’re in the hospital. narcotics or not, something about hospital foods is definitely constipating! And theres other meds that make you constipated too. nice topic choice in general…

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      Amber Woodyard

      I hear you! I’m sure they were talking about me as well! I know the super unhealthy smoker in the bed next to me was surely thinking I was nuts!

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