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Why Jell-O is served in hospitals

07/10/2018

During your stay at any hospital, you can almost always anticipate being served Jell-O. But why? We asked Hospitality Services and Food Services for more information about Jell-O and why it is served at hospitals. 

Three cups of orange Jell-O

Jell-O is considered a “clear liquid” food meaning that it turns into a clear liquid when at room temperature. Patients are often recommended to consume “clear liquids” when they are beginning to eat after a surgery or procedure.

How long has Jell-O been served in hospitals?

The tradition of serving clear liquids including Jell-O is longstanding and not unique to Tufts MC/Floating. 

Does Jell-O have any health benefits?

Although generally well tolerated, clear liquids do not provide adequate nutrients to patients. Generally, a clear liquid diet, including Jell-O, should not be followed long term to prevent inadequate nutrition. Jell-O is mainly sugar and gelatin and does not contain any health benefits.

Is there an alternative to Jell-O for patients with allergies or dietary restrictions?

Since Jell-O is derived from gelatin, which is a product made from collagen in animal hides, bones, and connective tissues, it is not considered vegetarian or vegan. Individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can opt for other clear liquids such as vegetarian broth, apple juice, or tea. Due to the sugar content of Jell-O, individuals with diabetes may opt for the sugar free Jell-O.