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Cooking for yourself can be hard enough at times. Adding friends and family to the mix can pose even bigger challenges because everyone has different dietary needs. One person may be on a low-fat diet while another is watching his or her salt intake. It's important to prepare 1 meal that can work for everyone. Here are some tips:

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Portion Control

Portion control is key. Not everyone can or should eat the same amount of food. Adjusting the serving size is easy and can help ensure everyone is getting the right amount of food. A person with CF needs more calories than a person without CF, therefore, they should get a bigger portion of what's being served.

Here is an example of spaghetti and meatballs served in 2 sizes:

Average serving size CF serving size
  • ½ cup pasta
  • ¾ cup sauce
  • 2 large meatballs
  • 1 ½ cups pasta
  • 1 ½ cups sauce
  • 3 large meatballs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. grated cheese
≈712 calories ≈925 calories

Doubling up sandwich ingredients, like in this ham and cheese sandwich, can also help add calories:

Average serving size CF serving size
  • 2 slices of ham
  • 2 slices of cheese
  • Low-fat mayonnaise
  • 4 slices of ham
  • 4 slices of cheese
  • Full-fat mayonnaise
≈323 calories ≈509 calories

Substitute ingredients

Substituting ingredients where appropriate is a great way to add calories to meals and will help keep everyone happy. It's a good idea to have both low-fat and full-fat items on hand, such as milk, cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, and salad dressings. This makes for easy swaps when cooking. For example, if a recipe calls for milk, swap the milk for heavy cream. See a couple of examples below, and learn more about recipe substitutions in the recipe section.


Low-calorie smoothie High-calorie smoothie
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • ½ cup non-fat milk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
≈242 calories ≈454 calories

Scrambled egg wrap

Low-calorie scrambled egg wrap High-calorie scrambled egg wrap
  • Coat pan with oil spray
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • Scramble egg in oil spray, add cheese, wrap in soft tortilla
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 oz. full-fat cheese
  • Scramble eggs in olive oil, add cheese, wrap in soft tortilla
≈276 calories ≈548 calories

In making these small changes to meals, you'll help meet the needs of everyone while keeping your high-calorie, high-fat diet on track. If you have any questions, be sure to talk to your CF dietitian.

Calorie booster cheat sheets1-3

Eating in and dining out

Whether you're cooking for yourself, family and friends, or dining out, there are many ways to sneak in extra calories. For example:
  • Add cheese, avocado, mayo, egg, or bacon to your burger
  • Use heavy cream instead of milk
  • Add high-calorie toppings to meals
  • Use extra sauce and dressing on pasta and salads
  • Add creamy dressings to salads

The chart below lists foods that add calories. Download and print this chart. Keep it with you to use at any time.

Ingredient Serving size ≈Calories
Heavy cream 1 Tbsp. 51
Sour cream 1 Tbsp. 28
Butter 1 Tbsp. 102
American cheese 1 slice 71
Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp. 22
Ricotta cheese 1 oz. 49
Peanut butter 1 Tbsp. 95
Olive oil 1 Tbsp. 119
Nuts (cashews) 1 oz. 165
Seeds (sunflower) 1 oz. 87
Honey 1 Tbsp. 64
Jam 1 Tbsp. 55
Dried fruit (mix) 1 cup 332
Creamy dressing 1 Tbsp. 71
Whipped cream 1 Tbsp. 26
Avocado 1 cup, sliced 234
Mayonnaise 1 Tbsp. 99
Dried milk powder 1 Tbsp. 40
Cream cheese 1 Tbsp. 50
Maple syrup 1 Tbsp. 52
Gravy 1 cup 123
Onion dip 1 Tbsp. 31
Hot fudge 1 Tbsp. 74
Caramel piece 1 medium size 27

Snack and mini-meal prep

If you have some time to spare during the week, preparing snacks and mini-meals ahead of time is a great way to ensure you have healthy options on hand that can be thrown in your purse, bag, or lunch box (with ice packs when necessary) at any time. This is especially helpful when you have unexpected errands, sleepovers, and anything you have to do that wasn't planned. Here are some healthy options you can prep ahead of time:
Snacks Serving size ≈Calories
High-fat deli meat and cheese roll-ups
(beef and cheese)
1 slice meat,
1 slice cheese
Cheese sticks/string cheese (part skim) 1 stick 85
Whole milk cottage cheese with fruit 1 cup 219
Whole milk yogurt with fruit 1 cup 292
Hummus in small container; 1 large pita
cut into triangles for dipping
1 Tbsp. hummus,
1 large pita
Canned fruit (in juice, not syrup) 1 cup 109
Fruit salad with yogurt 1 cup 127
Almonds 1 cup 953
Mini-meals Serving size ≈Calories
Pizza bagels—top halves with sauce and cheese
(heat up just before running out the door)
1 bagel, 2 Tbsp. sauce,
2 Tbsp. cheese
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (freeze and take out as needed; thaw in bag) 1 sandwich 327
Microwavable burritos (heat and run!) 1 burrito 839
Instant soup (potato) 1 cup 67
Instant noodle 1 cup 154
Macaroni and cheese 1 cup 386
Tuna kit (tuna fish, crackers, mayo) 1 kit 210

Source: Nutritional and dietary information provided by licensed dietitian and professional chef, Zachari Breeding, MS, RDN, LDN.

References: 1. Food-a-pedia. SuperTracker website. https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/foodapedia.aspx. Accessed May 1, 2016. 2. Grab 'n go! Meal and snack ideas for people with CF on the run. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. https://www.cff.org/Living-with-CF/Treatments-and-Therapies/Nutrition/Grab--N-Go-Meal-Ideas/. Accessed May 1, 2016. 3. Calories in 1 cup of whole milk fruit variety yogurt and nutrition facts. FatSecret website. https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/generic/yogurt-fruit-variety-whole-milk. Accessed December 14, 2016.

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