Eau Claire (WQOW) - A tradition commonly practiced in the Hmong community is boiling on the front burner for some local hospitals. News 18 explains the chicken diet and explains why Hmong mothers practice this post pregnancy tradition and how local health officials are serving their patients' cultural needs.
The chicken diet is a long-standing tradition in the Hmong community where many believe a mother's body needs to heal with this diet after she delivers her baby.
Zong Vang is feasting on her first meal after being in labor for 18 hours. She said after a woman gives birth, the chicken diet begins. "I waited until this morning because we had baby in the middle of the night."
The birth of baby Wesley at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire signals the start of a 30 day ritual for Vang,
a tradition, commonly practiced among mothers in the Hmong community, called the chicken diet. "All you can eat is boiled chicken with rice,” Vang said. “Chicken has a lot of protein. It really helps your body with the healing process."
A growing number of pregnant patients in the last five years at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital prompted nutrition services staff to add boiled chicken as a meal option. Dan Abramczak, the nutritional services director at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, said it was one of the needs that the community was looking for. "We look at all our patient demographics and see a lot of Hmong pregnancies come through in deliveries,” Abramczak said. “I think in the last two and a half to three years, we've really seen an uptick in that and starting to see probably two a week that we typically do.”
For mothers recovering overnight at the hospital like Vang, having the meal option accessible is essential. "I think it's very comforting knowing that that is the only thing that I can eat that they can provide it for me,” Vang said.
Sacred Heart staff said they do their best to prepare the meal, like boiling the chicken with herbs and lemongrass. "Some of the nutritional values and the protein that the chicken provides does help women get their strength back together a little bit quicker,” Abramczak said. “So, I do think there are people that are looking at that and saying, 'Maybe I should try something like that'."
While eating the same meal might turn some mothers off of the diet, she said the chicken diet could benefit her health in the long run. “Your body just feels cleaner,” Vang said. “I'm just excited to be on this chicken diet so the weight will come off and hopefully in a month, I can be back to per-pregnancy weight."
In addition to eating only boiled chicken for 30 days, Vang said she can only drink warm liquids and not cold fluids. She said this is to keep the body temperature warm during the healing process. Vang also told me it's common for a woman to wear a winter hat while outdoors even during the summer months to keep any wind from entering the body. Vang said practicing the chicken diet is a choice and not a requirement of the Hmong culture.
While staff at both Mayo Clinic Health System and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital said the boiled chicken meal is not listed on their menus, people can request for them to be made. Sacred Heart staff said they receive about two requests a week for that meal option.
Eau Claire (WQOW) - The birth of a newborn is a sign of new life. But, it can also signal the start of a new tradition for new mothers.
The chicken diet is a long-standing tradition in the Hmong community that's boiling on the front burner for some hospitals in Eau Claire. On Wednesday night, News 18 will introduce you to Eau Claire resident, Zong Vang, who recently gave birth to a baby boy at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and is currently practicing the diet. Vang said the chicken diet includes eating only boiled chicken with Hmong herbs and rice for 30 days.
She said for mothers recovering overnight at the hospital having the meal option accessible is essential. "They (The hospital staff) really try to make it the same to where culturally its similar to the way we do it,” Vang said. “I think it's very comforting knowing that that is the only thing that I can eat that they can provide it for me.
Tonight, join News 18 as Jesse Yang digs deeper for you about why this tradition is practiced in the Hmong community and how local hospitals are accommodating mothers and their newborns with their version of the chicken diet meal.