Earlier this week, I ventured out for my first restaurant meal since returning to the PKU low-protein diet. I was meeting my mother for lunch and we selected Olive Garden because we knew the unlimited salad (minus croutons and cheese) would be very PKU friendly. I also had the idea to bring some of my Aproten low-protein noodles with me. I had a batch already cooked and sitting in a Tupperware container in my refrigerator so all I had to do was re-heat them and find a way to transport the noodles while still keeping them warm. I immediately thought about a casserole dish/thermal carrying tote combo that I have, but I didn’t like the idea of walking through the restaurant carrying a large dish.
What did I do next? Well, this may sound a little silly, but I transferred my noodles into a Tervis tumbler. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, Tervis tumblers have a double-walled design that allows the air in between to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Knowing about the tumbler’s insulated properties, I thought it might also be feasible that the tumbler would keep my noodles warm. Even better was that after sealing the tumbler with its tight-fitting travel lid, I was able to discretely carry the noodles in my purse (For the record, I do carry a very large purse!).
When I ordered my meal, my mother and I explained to the waitress that I had special, dietary needs and asked if it would be possible to order just sauce and an extra plate. Specifically, I wanted to order the sauce that came with the Penne Rigate Pomodoro, a mixture of roma tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil and marinara sauce. Rather than charging me full-price for the dish, the Olive Garden staff was kind enough to provide me the Pomodoro sauce at the cost of two dipping sauce orders. When our entrees arrived, the waitress brought an extra plate and two dipping saucers full of Pomodoro sauce. I grabbed the Tervis tumbler from my purse, dumped the noodles on the empty plate and covered the noodles with the sauce. Over all, I had a completely awesome experience and I give the staff at the Knoxville/Turkey Creek Olive Garden mad props for helping to make my dining experience as pleasant as it was!
Finally, in closing here’s an update on how my return to diet is going: Yesterday marked three weeks since returning to the low-protein diet. My first on-diet blood level, taken on Jan. 27, came back at 4.3 mg/dl. That’s right in the ‘sweet spot’ of my clinic’s desired treatment range between 2 and 6 mg/dl. I was definitely impressed at how quickly my phe levels dropped, especially considering the last level I had prior to returning to diet was 20 mg/dl. I’ll be taking another level later today since my goal is to send a level to my clinic every two weeks.