Guest post by Natalia Elsebai, MSN, RN, CNL, Community Liaison for National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Garden State Chapter
The holiday season is quickly approaching. During this time of year most of us are enjoying many dinners, luncheons and gatherings with family and friends. These reunions can be decadent, often filled with more than a generous amount of food laden with calories, salt, fat and sugar. Because of this, it is important to remind our patients, especially those suffering from high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, about the dangers of consuming foods high in salt and fat. Did you know that admissions for heart failure increase immediately following the holiday season (Reedman, Allegra, Cochrane, 2008)? Diet, therefore, is one of the most preventative factors for this population during this time of the year.
As some of us know, hospital readmissions for those with heart failure within a certain time period are penalized. With a growing number of hospitals focusing on cost reduction measures, it is imperative to focus on these populations in order to bring these costs down.
So what can we do to promote healthy eating and decrease the rate of admissions right after the holidays? We can provide education and suggest options. Give your patients the education necessary to understand the consequences of their diet choices. In particular, when you are providing care to minority populations, give examples of some of the cultural foods than may be high in salt and fat. If patients are insistent on eating these types of foods, start focusing on portion control. Although completely abstaining from these foods would be the healthiest choice, most (including ourselves) find it difficult to do so. One of the most effective things to do is to talk to the cook of the household. There are plenty of resources available with alternative food options that are low in fat and salt, and even holiday cookbooks with a healthy twist. Giving patients resources that offer other options along with the education will help increase their willingness to try an alternative.
May your holidays be happy and healthy, and your patients enjoy the holiday at home. Cheers!
Reedman, L.A., Allegra, J. R., Cochrane, D.G. (2008). Increases in heart failure visits after Christmas and new years. PubMed, Nov- Dec (14:6), 307-309. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7133.2008.00021.x.
Article submitted on behalf of National Association of Hispanic Nurses-Garden State Chapter. Visit us at www.GardenState-NAHN.org.