Hacks: a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
Over the years I’ve discovered some of these PKU Adult ‘lifehacks’ that have been useful in managing my diet and getting my levels down.
- Leverage diet simplicity: While it might not work for everyone, I keep my daily variety of foods minimal and to my absolute favourites. This helps to maintain my levels, keeping to a certain number of protein grams before dinner. It might seem boring but it helps me manage my levels over a busy day or week. For example, I had a low protein vanilla porridge with blueberries for breakfast for the whole of winter. I then reserve my dinner meal grams for a creative selection of dinner options for my tastebuds.
- List your favourite PKU meals and needed ingredients in your phone’s ‘notes’ section and play PKU roulette for dinner: When I remember to do this, it helps me when I’m feeling stuck and uninspired for my dinner meal. I’ll scroll through my list of PKU meal titles, choose from the list before I drive home and pick up the ingredients on the way.
- Order PKU food staples in bulk and store them: It sounds like a no-brainer but there’s been times when I’ve run out of PKU pasta or low-protein baking mix and it just adds to my stress levels. There’s a few low-phe alternatives available at common supermarkets, for example; Sweet Potato Noodles, and Tapioca starch/flour but I find life feels simpler when you have your favourite staples on-hand ready for your next baking impulse!
- Pre-cut veggies: These are handy to have in the fridge to whip-up a quick stir-fry or salad in the evening. If I’m feeling super organised, I put my veggies in my food processor on a certain ‘planned’ day and blitz them, I then package them up for the fridge ready for the week to use in a salad or smoothie.
- Avoid buying high-phe foods: opt for the low-phe alternative in your shopping basket. Replace potato chips with veggie chips. High-phe foods are just not in my pantry. This is useful but may only work if you live alone or with other pkuers.
- Make your lunch the night before: If you’re like me and your mornings can be rushed, it’s great to have your lunch pre-made and in the fridge before you jump out the front door.
- Have healthy snacks pre-prepared: This isn’t something I do a lot, as I don’t favour too much variety or snack too often, but having organised snacks in a snack box is something I’m thinking about doing. That or snack on fruit more often!
- Develop a tasty green smoothie recipe: Make it in the morning! I am slightly suspicious that the raw enzymes in a nutritious green smoothie help to breakdown other foods you’re eating. My levels are suspiciously great when I’m drinking them consistently.
- Freeze greens in ice cubes and then use them in your smoothies: This was a green smoothie hack I saw on Instagram. I’m going to try it when it comes time for summer green smoothies!
- The freezer is your best friend: On nights when I get home from work and I haven’t got the mental energy to cook, I have PKU pies frozen in my freezer and also lots of low-phe soups to choose from. It has been a PKU lifesaver for me, when I don’t have much else in my pantry and haven’t done a food shop.
- Food diaries, food apps, weekly food planning: Out of these, the only one that helps me consistently is weekly food planning. I have found filling out a food diary can help when I’m being very strict and need to monitor what I’m eating unconsciously, but if I’m planning my food for the week I find it’s less necessary. I’ve yet to find a food diary app that works for me though.
- Put your midday PKU formula in eyesight: I put my lunchtime formula on my desk at work as a visual reminder. This hack has saved me a few times when I still feel hungry after lunch at work and forgotten all about the fact that I have PKU and need to manage my protein intake!
- Roast vegetables on a Sunday and then create ‘roast vegetable’ salad for the rest of the week: I did this consistently for a long time and it helped manage my levels. I’ll be rotating this hack back into my food planning soon!
- Make your own dips and sauces: I am a massive dip fan. It’s my go to snack with low-phe crackers. I used to scour the supermarket for low-phe dips, but I have discovered a few favourites I can make on my own and store them in the fridge or freeze them. E.g. Miso & Ginger dressing or Roasted eggplant dip.
- Have my formula after a meal for satiation: this usually settles my appetite before going in for second helpings and potentially more phe.
- Find ways to be consistently inspired: I am obsessed with health and people living healthy lives. It makes me more likely to stick to my health goals and develop a routine.
- Follow lots of PKU inspo on your social medias: you just might come across your next new favourite recipe or find others who are struggling with the same food/tastebud challenge.
These are my PKU hacks I’ve tried over the years. I hope some of these are useful to you!