Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Keeping track and measuring correctly
If you or your child is following a low-phenylalanine diet, you'll need to keep records of the amount of phenylalanine eaten every day to be sure you're sticking to the specific, individualized dietary guidelines recommended by your dietitian.
To do so, use a food diary or computer program that lists the amount of phenylalanine in baby foods, solid foods, PKU formulas, and common baking and cooking ingredients. To be as accurate as possible, measure portions, using standard measuring cups and spoons and a kitchen scale that reads in grams.
Buying some of the many low-protein products, such as low-protein pasta, rice, flour and bread, which are available through specialty food retailers, may add variety to your diet.
These products provide some variety, and they allow people with PKU to eat lunches and dinners that more closely resemble what everyone else is eating. Like the PKU formulas, these products can be expensive, but you might consider splurging on a few favorites with the money you save on dairy and meat products.
Food preparation ideas
Whether you buy special low-protein products or not, you can be creative with foods you can find at your local grocery store. Here are some ideas for serving up three daily meals and a snack with low amounts of phenylalanine:
- Breakfast. In the morning, along with PKU formula, you might dish up lower phenylalanine cereals, such as cornflakes or puffed rice, in nondairy creamer diluted with water. Or whip up a smoothie by blending fresh or frozen fruit with ice cubes, fruit juice, and almond or vanilla flavoring.
- Lunch. Pack a lunch bag with small portions of rice cakes, grapes, applesauce, lemonade and jelly beans. Or enjoy a low-protein pumpkin or vegetable soup.
- Snack. PKU formula and a piece of fruit.
- Dinner. Veggie stir-fry and a salad make a great evening meal. So do vegetable shish kebabs soaked in a tangy vinaigrette or Asian marinade. You can also try eggplant curry, baked potatoes topped with broccoli or mushrooms, and peppers stuffed with sweet potatoes or carrots. Another serving of PKU formula will generally accompany dinner.
You can transform the same basic lower phenylalanine vegetables into a whole menu of different dishes, using a little creativity — and a lot of seasonings. Herbs and flavorings low in phenylalanine can pack a flavorful punch. Just remember to measure and count every ingredient and adjust ideas to your individualized diet. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you have any questions. If you have any other health conditions, you may need to consider those too when you plan your diet.
- Phenylketonuria. Genetics Home Reference. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=phenylketonuria. Accessed Oct. 6, 2011.
- Blau N, et al. Phenylketonuria. The Lancet. 2010;376:1417.
- Bodamer OA. Overview of phenylketonuria. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 6, 2011.
- PKU (Phenylketonuria). March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/birthdefects_pku.html. Accessed Oct. 6, 2011.
- Ten Hoedt AE, et al. Parenting a child with phenylketonuria or galactosemia: Implications for health-related quality of life. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Diseases. 2011;34:391.
- Van Spronsen FJ, et al. Large neutral amino acids in the treatment of PKU: From theory to practice. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Diseases. 2010;33:671.