Friday, July 02, 2010

Special diet requests

At work we accommodate resident's requests for special diets. As long as the request if for a medical or religious need, I try my best to honor that need and to provide an alternative diet to the client.

Menu accommodations are an important aspect of the resident's treatment at the facility. Years of drug and alcohol abuse has left several clients with some serious health issues in addition to their addiction.

Careful evaluation of the client's need is important since I serve a single entree, side dish, vegetable and salad at each meal. At facilities with greater menu variety, the alternate entree, side dish, etc., can be designed with to accommodate those clients who have special needs.

I generally require that the client document her request for a special diet. Since most health care providers give the patient some sort of aftercare instructions, this is generally a simple process.

These instructions help the patient make wise dietary choices. In the case of a lactose-free or low lactose diet, the instruction advises the patient what foods to limit or avoid all-together (such as cheese, milk, ice cream and sour cream).

The instructions also advise the patient which alternative products, such as soy milk and other soy-based products, to use in place dairy products. It may also suggest over-the-counter products that the patient can take to relieve symptoms, if warranted.

I prefer that the client consult with her health care provider for two reasons. First, it gives her the opportunity to discuss appropriate treatment for her symptoms, including any dietary recommendations.

The dietary instructions also help me define the diet. I will meet with the client and discuss the diet with her. This informal meeting (usually in the kitchen) gives me a chance to let her know what I can and cannot provide. This discussion also lets me remove the client's subjective interpretation of the diet.

In the coming weeks, I'll offer practical suggestions that the small operator can use to incorporate these requests into regular meal preparation.

I plan to expand the discussion to vegetarian requests. While I don't currently have any vegetarians at work, I up to ten percent of the staff and campers were vegetarian at Deer Crossing Camp last summer.

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