When illness is serious enough for a physician to be consulted, he will give directions concerning the diet, and these should be scrupulously followed. If the case is so severe as to demand a trained nurse, she will have charge of the feeding, under the physician's guidance.
Many times, however, a member of the family is temporarily indisposed and needs food different from the ordinary family bill of fare. It is well to remember that in the first day or two of illness, fasting or taking of very little food does no harm, and may be an excellent help toward recovery, as it gives the digestive tract a chance to rest, if it has been disturbed.
Nevertheless, the internal work of the body goes on, 0.4 Calorie per pound per hour being expended during sleep, and about 0.6 Calorie per pound per hour during waking hours in bed. A person in bed for twenty-four hours will require about 0.5 Calorie per pound per hour to prevent use of body material for fuel. A man of average weight, lying in bed, will thus need about 1850 calories per day. Hence we must see to it, that after a person has been sick for more than a few days (during which he can afford to burn body fat) enough fuel is given to satisfy his energy requirements if he can possibly digest it.
Food for an invalid must always be given in its most digestible forms. Milk is one of the most valuable foods in sickness, not only because it supplies so many body needs, but because it can be used in so many ways, - hot, or cold, flavored or plain, made into junkets or sherbets, combined with eggs in eggnogs and custards, fermented as in kumyss or soured as in buttermilk or zoolak. In some form or other milk can almost always be made digestible. Eggs are also of great value, not only poached or dropped and served on toast, but as dainty omelets, or in beverages, as eggnog, egg lemonade, and orangeade. Mild fruit juices, as orange, grape, or pineapple, are not only refreshing but of considerable fuel value. If there is no fever, chicken, lamb chops, tender broiled steak or roast beef may serve to add variety to the menu. Broths stimulate the appetite and help digestion, though they are of little or no food value themselves. Cereals, eggs, and milk may be added to increase their food value. Cereals in the form of gruels or delicate puddings, as cornstarch blancmange and tapioca cream, are easily digested. Vegetables are best given rather sparingly, and only delicate, mild-flavored ones, such as spinach or asparagus, if digestion is much disturbed. In getting an invalid to take sufficient food, much depends upon the attractiveness of the service. Remember that very little things, like a fingermark on a glass, or coffee spilled into the saucer, may take away appetite and prevent enough food being eaten. Food in small quantities and taken at more frequent intervals than in health helps towards the best results. Knowledge of what particular diet is best in different diseases comes only through careful study of the science of nutrition after much study of chemistry and physiology.
1. Calculate your own energy requirement.
2. Calculate the energy requirement of your family group.
4. Make a dietary yielding 10,000 Calories, from ten to fifteen per cent of which shall be protein calories, from Menu No. II, and calculate its cost.
5. Find out the lowest sum for which a balanced dietary could be obtained in your locality.
6. Revise the dietary from Menu No. I, so that it shall not cost over one cent per hundred Calories.
7. Plan an ideal day's dietary for yourself.
8. Plan a day's dietary for an invalid which shall yield 2000 Calories, 300 of which shall be protein Calories.