Nutrition advice for patients

A hospital meal being servedHow eating well can help with your condition

Preparing for your hospital admission 

If you have a food allergy or intolerance, please let someone on your ward know so they can refer you to our dedicated dietetic department who will make suitable arrangements. The dietitian will assess you and liaise with the catering department to ensure you receive suitable meals.

If you have coeliac disease or an intolerance to wheat, it is advisable to bring a few staple products such as bread and crackers into hospital with you as this will allow enough time for the catering staff to order in these products.

Eating while in hospital

At each bed space, there is a menu booklet which gives you detailed information about the food on offer. There is a range of options including healthier, higher energy, soft and vegetarian choices. There are also culture and religion-specific meals.

If you think you might require a special therapeutic diet, please ask to be referred to the dietitian.

After surgery or during illness you may need to increase the amount of energy and protein you eat to help your body to recover and repair itself. In this instance it is important not to restrict your energy and protein intake; this is the reason that higher energy choices have been included on the menu. If you are eating less it may be advisable for you to pick these options rather than low energy choices such as soup and salads. You will be referred to the dietitian if your nutritional status is impacting on your recovery or you may be offered additional food items to supplement your dietary intake.

If you have any relatives or friends bringing in food items for you, please seek permission from the nurse in charge or ward manager first. Foods that have been reheated or previously cooked should not be provided, as there is the potential for bacteria to multiply quickly while the food is in transit.

Healthy eating - what is it? 

No single food can provide the body with all its essential nutrients. To meet these needs, it is important to follow a balanced diet. The 'Balance of Good Health' includes a wide variety of foods (including fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as bread, cereals and potatoes, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and alternatives) and smaller amounts of foods containing fats and sugars.

It is important to choose low-fat dairy and protein foods, whole grains, and to aim for the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.

In addition to following the 'Balance of Good Health' it is important to limit your salt intake to no more than 6g per day and to keep your sugar intake relatively low.  This can help you to manage your weight and may reduce your risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

Promoting better health

Our dietetic department regularly participates in health promotion events in the Trust. Previous campaigns include National Salt Awareness week and National Obesity week.

Further information and help


  • British Nutrition Foundation - Healthy eating information, resources for schools, news items and recipes.

  • Eatwell - The Eatwell website from the Food Standards Agency offers advice for consumers on food safety.

  • Weight Wise – Advice on losing weight in a healthy manner from The British Dietetic Association.


  • Diabetes UK - The UK's largest organisation for people with diabetes.

  • British Heart Foundation - General information on heart conditions, including dietary advice.

  • Cystic Fibrosis Trust - National charity dedicated to all aspects of cystic fibrosis, the site includes some nutrition information for sufferers.

  • Little Hearts Matter - Charity for children with a diagnosis of a single ventricle heart condition.  The 'lifestyle' section includes some nutrition advice.