I’ll be honest. This challenge was not one I agreed to lightly. I’m under no illusions at how hard our patients work to follow a diet for PKU. It requires lots of planning, support and organisation. Many people had also warned me I could be pretty hungry, especially with exercising too. But ultimately I realised you never really understand something properly until you do it yourself and so was determined to give it a good go. So here we are: Day 1 of the 7 day 7 exchange challenge!

I had (again quite honestly) eaten well over the weekend. I was at a blogging conference with an abundance of food so I ensured my body was well “stocked up”. Waking up this morning with my usual sense of being so hungry I could eat my own arm; I remembered it was the start of the challenge. I had planned to food shop today and had my Nutricia stash ready.


My low protein shopping stash

I had been advised by a patient to have my protein substitute after my breakfast as it can fill you too much. So being a novice I did just that. Breakfast was a nectarine, 4 slices of low protein toast with olive spread and jam (they are small!) and a cup of  tea with a dash of Snopro. I’m aware I did not use any exchanges  but my rationale will appear clearer later. I drank my protein substitute, which was a blackcurrant Lophlex, afterwards. Not going to lie, I danced around the kitchen as I drank it, sipping tea in between. They taste much better than previous ones but for an adult, not used to the bitter taste of amino acids and vitamins, it was a challenge. Hats off to any adult going back on diet after a break!

It had been about 3 days since I last went to the gym and I was twitching a bit. My husband suggested I shouldn’t go; I would be so hungry and couldn’t eat any whole protein afterwards! How would I cope?  Exactly like a person with PKU I informed him and off I went. I had no difference in energy and performance but I had eaten well over the weekend, so it will be interesting to see how I am later on in the week. After a quick nip to the supermarket for a low protein stash I was home downing my second Lophlex; pink grapefruit flavour. This was better and my little dance was less dramatic. After weight training it is important to get a 20g protein hit to refuel the muscles, hence why I had the drink a little earlier than lunch.

It was creeping up to lunchtime so I prepared an amazing salad which consisted of rocket lettuce, pepper, tomatoes, pickled beetroot, coleslaw and olives. I dressed it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and had a small portion of low protein pasta on the side. Two exchanges were in this meal: 35g of sweetcorn and 22g of caramelised sweet onion houmous (this is the one with the lowest protein). Dessert was a bowl of strawberries and another cup of tea with Snopro.


Low protein salad

So far, so good. However, an hour later my tummy started rumbling. The post Body Pump hunger pangs were starting. I had another nectarine and an hour later a slice of Genius brown bread (1 exchange) with olive spread and jam. I then had a Promin cranberry breakfast bar.

Six o’clock is baby bathtime in our household and tea comes a little later. I decided to have my final Lophlex then as would not be too close to tea.  I chose an Orange Lophlex and this time the kitchen dancing was minimal; I was getting used to them. My lovely husband made low protein curry for tea, whilst I put our daughter to bed. He used a balti curry paste mixed with chopped tomatoes. I had onion, pepper and green beans and 37g of rice (uncooked) which used 3 exchanges. I have to admit teeny bits of chicken were found in it (husband’s) and I was very good and picked the few bits out.


My low protein curry

Dessert was a bowl of raspberries and blueberries and my final exchange: 15g of Cadburys Marvellous Creations chocolate. I’m definitely a dietitian who eats in moderation!


Berries for dessert yum!


So Day 1 is done and dusted. I’m not as hungry as I thought yet and am ready for what Day 2 will bring.