As we have said before, we’ve really been learning-as-we-go with this diet business. Our daily meal routine has evolved, so I thought I would post our current methods.
During the first few months of the diet, we used a paper and pencil method. We had a small spreadsheet of commonly used foods and their break downs hanging on the fridge and would look up other foods as needed. Each meal was built on the fly with benchmarks for carbs, protein and fat at various times of the day. I knew the breakdowns for typical portions of common foods, so I could build a meal intuitively then add it up, adjust, and check the exact ratio. Each meal was juggled independently. It worked fine and provided us with flexibility, but after the last seizure (11 weeks ago!) and meeting with the dietician we started a more efficient long-term method for meal planning.
I first saw the KetoCalculator tool and started an account for Nora a few months ago when I met with Nora’s dietician to tighten up the way we administered her diet. I was reluctant to use it because only particular major brands of foods are available (for more on my reluctance, see About the MKD). But I also learned that the dietician must add all of the foods made from my recipes, and that just seemed like too much work for her and for me. So we only use the official KetoCalculator as a reference to check the official break-downs for particular foods when necessary, but not as a meal planning tool.
Instead of the official KetoCalculator, Ted devised our very own KetoSheet spreadsheet in Excel. It’s the same idea as the official online tool, but we can customize and adjust it ourselves. We share it with each other via GoogleDocs so that we can both use the most updated version on our own computer, anytime. This lets us enter the number of grams for each food, see the breakdowns, the running total, and make slight adjustments to hit the right ratio for each meal.
It’s interesting to play with it to build a meal–we can move the ratio with tiny adjustments, like an extra gram of butter or one less gram of raspberries. Making slight adjustments to the paper and pencil method meals meant erasing, re-writing and re-adding. When we adjusted her ratio to 3.5:1, up from 3:1, I realized that I had a great intuitive sense for meals built at the 3:1 ratio. Changing the ratio meant a lot more time fussing over the right measurements for each food. It has really streamlined the process and I think it has helped Ted build meals from scratch as well. We share the meal planning load more evenly now.
After determining what Nora will eat at her next meal with our personal Excel KetoSheet, we write these values down in our little book-o-days. We now have four little notebooks sitting on the shelf full of daily meal records. That’s our permanent running log of Nora’s meals. It’s also far more portable than a laptop. Then we take the little book with the foods and quantities to the kitchen for quick reference when building a meal. We can also look back to previous days and copy a meal for a quicker process.
Next to the kitchen! We finally got a one-tenth gram scale and are very happy with it. I was afraid that I would spend a lot of time shaving off bits of food to hit the tenth-gram value, but it’s not too fussy. It’s actually kind of fun, especially when you hit it on the first try. There’s a silver lining.
With the meal plan and scale at the ready, we make up the meal. We have several small bowls, some of them silicone for easy mixing and scraping out of things like butter and cream cheese. I also have a few tiny bowls for presenting small amounts of food.
It’s all pretty routine now, but it still takes at least an hour or two to feed Nora each day.
We have a few standard breakfast combinations. The best one at the moment is a pecan breakfast cookie adapted from the KetoCookbook. The original uses ground pecans and butter, but I substituted coconut oil so that we do not have to present coconut oil separately in the meal. Nora doesn’t particularly like eating coconut oil straight or mixed in cream cheese. My next version will be made with hazelnut flour because Bob’s Red Mill has a pre-ground hazelnut flour, so I won’t have to grind the nuts myself.
Nora’s mid-morning snack is B^3 with either 8 grams of apple slivers or 15 g of baby carrots (depending on whether Anders has decimated our apple supply without our knowledge). Nobody better mess with her morning snack. She has come to expect it every day.
Lunch varies. We have started using more macadamia nuts lately to help boost the ratio with healthy fats. We have also started to rely on butter much more than cream. Lunch always includes flacker and butter, which Nora eats up happily. We also have plentiful raspberries from our garden this time of year, so she eats several small portions of raspberries per day, usually around 10 g each, or 3-4 berries (only 0.57 carbs per serving!). I know, it sounds like so little to the rest of those, but those raspberries are precious sweet rubies to Nora.
On days when we both work, we put together the morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for her babysitter. We calculate, weigh and assemble it the night before so that it’s all ready to go.
Dinner and bedtime snack are calculated based on the running total for the day and the foods we have available. There are plenty of food options so we can always put together and easy meal. Or we can easily add something new to our KetoSheet if the rest of us are having something that we don’t often eat. Recently I’ve added pork shoulder, bratwurst, ling code and snap peas, edamame and watermelon to the KetoSheet. I look up values of generic foods on www.caloriecount.com and cross reference it with the official online KetoCalculator if I have any doubts. I create a new line in our spreadsheet and copy and past the formatting from an existing line. Then I add the new food and calculate the carbs, protein, fat and fiber per gram. Bingo-bango, I’ve got a new food to play with. Who says we shouldn’t play with our food?!?