Recipes Especially Prepared for the Sick

Statistics prove that two-thirds of all disease is brought about by error in diet. The correct proportions of food-principles have not been maintained, or the food has been improperly cooked. Physicians agree, with but few exceptions, that the proper preparation of food for the sick is of as great importance in the restoration to health as administration of drugs. Time and manner of serving are of equal importance.
Take especial care in setting an invalid’s tray. Cover with a spotless tray-cloth or dinner napkin, folding the same, if it is larger than tray, that it may just come over edge. Avoid a fringed cloth, as the fringe is apt to prove annoying.

Select the daintiest china, finest, glass, and choicest silver, making changes as often as possible. Cheer the patient with a bright blossom laid on tray, or a small vase of flowers placed in left hand corner. Place plate at front of tray, near the edge; knife at right of plate, with sharp edge toward plate; fork at left of plate, tines up; spoon at head of plate, or, if more convenient for the patient, at right of knife, bowl up; cup and saucer at right of plate, with handle arranged so that cup may be easily lifted; tumbler above knife, and filled two-thirds full of freshly drawn water just before taking into the sick-room. The individual butter, or bread and butter plate, should be placed at left hand corner over fork. The napkin may be placed at right of cup. Salt should appear, but pepper never. Avoid having too many things on the tray at one time. If soup, meat, and a light dessert are to be served to a convalescent, have one course removed before another appears. Foods which are intended to be served hot should be placed in heated dishes and kept covered during transit from kitchen, that patient may receive them hot. Equal care should be taken to have cold foods served cold; never lukewarm. A glass of milk, cup of gruel, or cup of beef-tea should be on a plate covered with a doily.

Never consult the patient as to his menu. If there is anything he especially desires, you will be informed. Anticipation often creates appetite. Serve in small quantities; the sight of too much food often destroys the appetite. If liquid diet must be adhered to, give as great variety as is allowable. If patient is restricted to milk diet, and milk is somewhat objectionable, it may be tolerated by serving in different ways, — such as Koumiss, Albumenized Milk, or by addition of Apollinaris, Seltzer water, or rennet.
After the completion of a meal, the tray should be removed at once from the sick-room. If any solid food remains, it should be burned, and liquids disposed of at once.

Liquid Foods may first be considered. Barley water and rice water are known as astringent or demulcent drinks, and are generally used to reduce a laxative condition. The starch of barley is perhaps more valuable than that of rice. Toast water is often beneficial in cases of extreme nausea. A small quantity of clam water may be given when the stomach refuses to retain other foods. Clam water is also used to increase a secretion of mother’s milk.

Oatmeal water is occasionally ordered for dyspeptic patients, but more frequently used for the workman on the road or the farmer in the field. In the hottest days of summer, oatmeal water may be drunk with safety where ice water would be extremely dangerous.

Fruit waters are principally used for fever patients. They are cooling, refreshing, and mildly stimulating, and are valuable for the salts and acids they contain. Lemons, being easily procured and of moderate price, are most extensively used.

Beef essence, which is the expressed juices of beef, being nutritious, is given when a condensed form of food is necessary. Many preparations of beef essence are on the market in the form of powder, paste, liquid, and tablets; some of which are valuable, but they are more expensive and not as nutritious as home-made essence, and patients are apt to quickly tire of them. One pound of beef cut from the top of the round will frequently yield four ounces of beef essence.
Beef tea contains the juices of beef diluted with water, and is given as a stimulant, rather than as a nutrient as is popularly supposed. It furnishes a pleasing variety to a liquid diet, and by its use a large quantity of water is ingested. If the color of beef is objectionable to a patient, serve in a colored glass.
Egg-nogs are recommended where it is necessary to take a large amount of nutriment daily, as is often the case when the system is much reduced by a severe illness.

Semi-solid Foods comprise the gruels. When made from corn or oatmeal they are heat-producing, and should never be given when inflammatory symptoms are present. Imperial Granum makes a delicious gruel, which has largely superseded the more common kinds. It is quickly made, and unless expense must be considered is generally to be preferred. Although containing much starch, in the process of manufacture the starch has largely been converted into dextrine; therefore it may be given even when there is inflammation. Flour and cracker gruels to many prove a pleasant variety, and often assist in reducing a laxative condition. Arrowroot makes a delicate gruel, is more easily digested than any other form of starch, and is often valuable in cases of gastric irritation. It should never be given to infants.

Solid Foods comprise the principal diet during convalescence. At this time the nurse shows her skill and judgment quite as much as during the critical part of the disease. Foods must be taken which are nutritious, easy of assimilation, and given frequently, in small quantities, and at regular intervals. The convalescent, if allowed to follow his own inclinations, often produces a relapse by improper diet.

It is often desirable to prepare water ices and ice creams quickly and in small quantities for the sick. This may be easily accomplished by putting the mixture to be frozen in a small tin box (one-pound baking-powder can), placing box in lard pail and surrounding with finely crushed ice and salt. Cover pail; as mixture begins to freeze, scrape from sides and bottom of box and beat until smooth. Continue until of the desired consistency.

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