How I calculate fat and protein for pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) dosing in homecooked meals

As I’ve been re-adding food items to my diet now that I know I have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), I’ve been eating a lot of packaged foods with nutrition labels that are quick and easy to read. I’ve done a few meals that are takeout from a restaurant, and certainly the ones from chain restaurants with nutrition labels online are the easiest to enable me to optimally dose my PERT. (But not all restaurants, including my new favorite local taco place, have them and so I also do quite a bit of guesswork and experimenting.)

I’m now at the point where I can eat some onion and garlic and other FODMAPs again (yay!), so a lot of the homecooked meals I used to love to make – especially crockpot meals – are back on my list to try. This week I decided to try taco soup, a longtime favorite that involves cans of black beans, corn, dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, cooked ground beef, tomato paste, and ranch and taco seasonings.

One of the reasons I waited to cook large meals until this point in my EPI discovery experience was to save my energy for figuring out the fat and protein per portion size.

I’ve been creating a tab in my PERT enzyme tracking spreadsheet that’s labeled “ingredients”, and I’ve been listing commonly used ingredients (e.g. an egg, 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan, 1 cup of milk) that I often add to my food and repeatedly need to add to my nutrient totals. I listed out all the ingredients for my taco soup recipe (see above), looked up the fat and protein and logged those, then added them all up for what one giant crockpot full of taco soup would be. That’s 44 grams of fat and 177 grams of protein.

(Side note – I found that Impossible ground beef tastes the same as ground beef and ends up being lower fat and protein. I was going to use it anyway, but that makes it easier to dose PERT by slightly reducing the fat and protein quantities.)

Then, after I cooked it (truly, set it and forget it), I scooped out a cup at a time to estimate the number of cups. For my current crockpot, it was about 12 cups.

So to figure out the taco soup individual serving size, I take 44 and 177 and divide each by 12, so it’s about 4 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein per cup of soup. I usually eat 2 cups at a time, so multiply by two to get the total of what I’m needing to dose PERT for, which is 8 grams of fat and 30 grams of protein. That’s *just* at my 1-PERT limit (at my current dosing)  for protein and well under my 1-PERT limit for fat (also about 30 grams), so I was able to cover 2 cups of soup with 1 PERT pill.

However, were I to add 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, as I sometimes do, I’d need to add on additional enzymes to cover the protein. (It’s frustrating that I’m this sensitive to protein, enzyme-wise!)

This is also what I’ll do with potato soup (another crockpot favorite) and any other recipes that I make. Like diabetes tasks, I’ve found that splitting up the work whenever possible makes a difference, so I’ll list out the ingredients and look up the data and determine the total recipe counts separately from when I cook it, and from when I measure out how many servings there are and arrive at the final serving math.
An overview of the process of adding up fat and protein for all ingredients in a recipe; cooking and counting out the number of portions, then dividing the fat and protein totals by the number of portions (I use cups) to determine how many grams of each per serving and determine how much PERT to dose.

(PS, if you didn’t see them, I have other posts about EPI at DIYPS.org/EPI)

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