a. Consider the patient's food preferences as much as possible. Encourage the
patient to fill out the selective menu, so that preferred foods will be served.
b. Provide the patient with assistance in selecting the appropriate foods from the
menu. The use of selective menus has improved food acceptance in most hospitals.
c. Order and deliver the patient's tray promptly when it has been delayed while he
was undergoing tests or procedures.
d. Feed or assist the patient as necessary. Even patients, who can feed
themselves, may need assistance in opening milk cartons, cutting meat, and spreading
butter on bread.
e. Discuss the advantages of following the diet. Explain to the patient why he will
feel better and heal faster. For some diseases or disorders, the patient may be required to
follow a special diet during the period of illness or the remainder of his life.
(1) A high protein diet is essential to repair tissues in any condition, which
involves healing, such as recovery from surgery or burns.
(2) A person with diabetes must adhere to a diet controlled in calories,
carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
A person with hypertension may require a diet restricted in sodium.
f. Inform the dietitian or food service specialist of any special needs the patient
may have. A patient who has lost his teeth and has difficulty chewing will need
modifications in the consistency of the food he eats.
g. Visit with the patient briefly when serving the food tray.
h. Encourage family members to visit during mealtime. If present, a family
member may want to feed the patient who needs assistance. Be sure that this is relaxing
and safe for the patient.
i. When conditions allow for it, encourage the ambulatory patient to go to the
dining hall for meals or open curtains in a double room so that patients may eat together.
If the patient must eat alone, turn on the television or radio.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PRACTICAL NURSE IN RELATION TO DIET
a. The practical nurse should be familiar with the diet prescription and its
therapeutic purpose. Although individual trays are carefully checked before leaving the
Nutrition Care Division, mistakes can happen. Examine each tray with the patient's
specific diet in mind. You should be able to recognize each type of diet.