There seems to be little arrangement made, even in nursing homes and hospitals, for the invalid who may not, or cannot, eat fish, meat, or chicken, or take the inevitable beef-tea and chicken broth. What, then, is to be given in their place ?
Although progress has been made in other directions, the ideas about invalid food are still somewhat old-fashioned. The invalid who does not take meat is looked upon as a faddist, and is often treated with impatience by both doctor and nurse.
Formerly it was considered that invalids snould be kept in a dark room with the windows closed ; that they should not be allowed to read, or to have read to them, interesting books or papers; that they should be given nauseous drugs at stated intervals, and that they should have plenty of beef-tea
(and perhaps alcohol as well), and be fed chiefly on starchy and sloppy foods.
The most advanced doctors and nurses now realise that the mind and the sensations help to cure the body, and, as a rule, invalids have bright, cheerful, and well-ventilated rooms, and their spirits are kept up by whatever will make them happy and turn their attention from brooding over their ailments.
So, too, invalids who do not wish to take meat in any form can now be given pure vegetable and fruit juices instead of beef-tea. It is also possible for them to be given digestible, pure, nourishing, and not necessarily unpleasant foods, in cases in which food is given at all.
For to nourish the body without producing indigestion or congestion, and to cleanse the inside of the body by natural purifiers, such as fruit and vegetable juices, are most important general principles in present day nursing.
And if, in carrying out these principles, one can make the invalid thoroughly enjoy his or her meals, so much the better.
The recipes that are offered here will not be unpleasant. Of course, special dishes would be required for special cases ; and all these recipes will not be good for all invalids. It is only possible to suggest recipes that would be useful in many - if not in most - cases. It is clear, for example, that the same recipe is unlikely to be equally suitable for the invalid who needs to be soothed as for the one who needs to be gently stimulated. Again, a drink like barley-water, that is soothing in some cases, may in others be quite the reverse.
One of the most interesting points about invalid foods is that two absolutely opposite kinds have often been successful in cleansing the system. First, there is the liquid system ; then there is the dry, such as unsweetened rusks or some nourishing unsweetened biscuits, etc.
As instances of the liquid, the hot water, fruit, and the vegetable-juice cures may be cited. The Schroth treatment by stale bread is an example of the dry system. This, with the occasional drink, has sometimes effected wonderful results, though the immediate symptoms may be far from hopeful.
In practice it is often found best to combine the two treatments. In many cases the invalid can be given pure fruit juices in the early morning, pure vegetable juices the last thing at night, and at least one of the dry meals during the day, in order to compel mastication, and to arouse the action of that precious medicine the saliva.
In these recipes the liquids for the invalid who perhaps may not have solid foods will be combined with some more solid dishes for those who cannot take too much liquid, and who cannot take very dry or solid foods.
It is most important, when giving fruit juices to the invalid, not to make them too syrupy. Ripe fruit has its own pure sugar, which is very much more nourishing and healthy than the chemically prepared sugar that is generally considered necessary as an addition to stewed fruit. It is equally important, in giving vegetable juices to the invalid, not to add table-salt to them; for vegetables have their own precious "salts" and curative properties, and need nothing added to them when taken in this form, or when cooked conservatively in the hot-air cooker.