Thursday, March 29, 2007


Logic would have it that a hospital would be the leader in offering healthy food options in the cafeteria. It just makes sense. Yet, in almost every hospital that I've ever set foot in, the cafeteria offers a cornucopia of fat laden, high-caloric, and processed foods to its visitors. Finding something healthy to eat is like seeking the holy grail.

Perhaps this is just an ingenious business model and a way of ensuring a patient base for future business. "Here's your double bacon cheeseburger with fries! See you in the cath lab after your heart attack!"

I've even been in a few hospitals where some demonic fast food vendor has set up an entire shop in the lobby, similar to how a Wal-Mart will often have a McDonald's growing out of it like an ugly tumor. The hospital where I received my medical degree had a McDonald's in the lobby. A hospital in South Carolina where I interviewed for a job had a Chik-fil-A. Yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseum.

It's also difficult to convince your patients to follow a healthy diet and eat right when they see various physicians in the hospital cafeteria chowing down on the very same fatty foods they were just told to avoid. What a bunch of hypocrites! Hard to imagine a patient feeling the responsibility and the motivation to go out and exercise when his physician is overweight himself.

And I'm sure that's exactly how I looked as I stood in line with my plate of chili cheese fries. An octogenarian in front of me eyed my plate, raised an eyebrow, and gave me a funny look.

I thought about explaining how I've been up all night and that this is the first meal I've had in over 16 hours. And that after busting my butt all night on call and how the last case took 6 hours and turned into a nightmare, I thought I deserved a treat. But nobody wants to hear that. So instead, I just said with a wink, "Do as I say, not as I do."