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High Calorie Meals: Big Impact, Small Footprint

When you are nutritionally rehabilitating someone with an eating disorder, calorie needs can be very high. Hypermetabolism is in play, and organ repair is an energy-intensive process, even if one’s goal is not weight gain. Developing a repertoire of small-volume/high impact foods is a vital skill for re-feeding families. 

FEAST Parent Recommended Recipe Resources:

High Calorie Suggestions: A thread from the Around the Dinner Table Forum

High Calorie Snacks: A thread from the Around the Dinner Table Forum

Mamaroo’s recipes on YouTube

F.E.A.S.T. Family Recipe Book from 2011 (out of print but available free here)

Useful Vocabulary and Tips:

Magic Plate

Many F.E.A.S.T. families talk about using a “Magic Plate Approach” early in re-feeding. In this strategy, parents and carers plan, shop, prepare and then serve up the plate of food at the table “as if by magic” without involving or discussion with the person with the eating disorder. The parents do not discuss or apologize or make a big deal about the contents of the food, they just bring everyone to the table and commence with the eating. This approach can require some practice, as it may have become normal to argue and debate about food, and because it is common to talk about food while eating it. Magic Plate often involves redirecting conversation to other topics now that discussing the menu is no longer accepted. Magic Plate also means plating everyone’s food for them, and this can be strange at first for families who have usually told everyone to serve themselves or to have the food on the table for everyone to fill their own plates.

Compassionate Deception

It is controversial to “hide” calories in food. Some providers discourage it. Some families prefer to have complete transparency or to follow a clear meal plan. With Magic Plate there is no need to discuss the ingredients.

Some parents refer to it as “compassionate deception” when they fortify meals to reach healthy calorie levels or higher fat content to meals.

Incorporating fats

High calorie eating often means adding butter, cream, coconut cream, oil, cream cheese, and melted cheese to foods.

One tip: boil thick cream (in the UK, ‘Double cream’) until the volume reduces to just a spoonful. When you add this to a pasta sauce, or curry, a stew, it is invisible. 

Another tip: to incorporate extra butter or oil into a dish that has a sauce or liquid component (ie spaghetti, stir fry, soup), keep the fat from separating or floating on top by first whisking the oil or melted butter with a thickener such as flour or cornstarch (usually 1:1 ratio fat to starch), then blend into your dish and simmer for a minute to thicken.