The Accidental Nutritionist

3 Eaters, 1 Mission

Notes From Jamie – Week 12

“What are some of your tips for building filling and nutritional meals within strict portion control?”

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

I imagine, if I was providing this kind of food for anyone but Charlie, a lot of the work would be centered around making meals filling

But Charlie eats the smallest portion sizes I have ever seen a grown human consume. So actually, a lot of the time, I have to think about how to pack the most (nutrious) calories into the smallest portion possible. I know, unexpected for a weight loss journey, but when you can’t use starches or sugars and the fat content is minimal… Turns out it can be kinda hard to make a meal calorically dense.

The other trick with portions, is that—like I mentioned last week—psychologically, Charlie relies on things like meat to feel satisfied. So even if I know—I know—that a meal had plenty of calories, it is unlikely that Charlie will feel full and energized unless there is visible protein. (Beans are acceptable, but not preferable by themselves.)

We all have these mental games we play with ourselves. Drew’s recently reduced her alcohol intake as part of cleaning up her diet as well. She found that by adding fizzy water and a few bitters to a jigger of whiskey, she could trick her brain into thinking she was having a cocktail and happily sip on the one drink all night.

Hey, whatever works. You won’t find me complaining about placebo effects. 

Due to Charlie’s small portion sizes, I’m able to regularly stretch her meat allotment each week from 3 meals to 6. When salmon or tuna are on the menu, that expands to 8 or 9. Awesome! Huzzah! 

I also pay attention to additions that Charlie may not notice psychologically but I know will benefit her body. For example, spinach has a lot of protein in it. It’s a great addition to a meal where the menu is salad with beans. 

Will it help in Charlie’s mind? Maybe, but probably not. It’s unlikely to affect how she feels. That’s okay, it’s still providing crucial nutrients to keep her body strong even as she’s losing weight. 

For example: after trying the widely popular zucchini noodle trend, Charlie found that they just weren’t for her. Zucchini is great, but the noodle form wasn’t working for her. Since then, I’ve been searching for a veggie noodle alternative. I occasionally will noodle a sweet potato as they’re technically on her “sometimes” list, but the sugar content of them makes me nervous. 

So last week, we tried turnip noodles. I’m hopeful these will be options moving forward because in addition lots of fiber, some protein, and loads of vitamin C, turnips are great sources of vitamin B6, which can help with metabolism, immune system, and reduce symptoms of depression. 

Charlie’s rice substitute, cauliflower—which she’s been loving—also carries a lot of these benefits with lots of protein, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B6. Try beating that, basmati! 

Another addition I made recently that Charlie is unlikely to taste was adding turmeric to a batch of turkey chili. I have no doubt Charlie will feel full and satisfied after eating the chili. In addition to the ground turkey, there are both cannellini and pinto beans in there! But turmeric is widely understood to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as helping to stabilize blood sugar! 

These are things that can happen in the background while Charlie just focuses on a delicious meal.

~ Jamie

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