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Thursday, November 15, 2007

By popular demand we are reprinting here our Thanksgiving article with a new twist. There is a link at the end to sample menu plans from a group in England called Matthew’s Friends. While some food items may not be familiar to you, these menu plans might give you some ideas for meals that your children will enjoy. Also, please go to Our Dietary Therapies section where Eric Kossoff, MD, brings us up-to-date information on the Ketogenic Diet each month. | Rita Watson, Senior Editor

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we asked Beth Zupec-Kania, RD, CD, Ketogenic Diet Coordinator, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, to give us some tips on preparing Thanksgiving meals for people on the ketogenic diet and their families.

The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that helps to control seizures in some people with epilepsy. It is prescribed by a physician and carefully monitored by a dietitian. It is stricter than the modified Atkins diet. For additional information, see www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet.

Because birthdays and holidays can be a challenging time for children on the ketogenic diet, family meals should incorporate foods that are similar to what the child or young adult on the ketogenic diet is allowed to eat. As Beth points out, "A traditional Thanksgiving meal can be easily adapted to the ketogenic diet; however, all portions must be much smaller than the typical overflowing helpings that one expects for this hearty feast."

While the entire family can eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner prepared the ketogenic way, Beth notes that, “For the person with epilepsy, what is critical is that all foods must be carefully prepared and weighed on a gram scale. Each meal must be eaten in its entirety for the diet to be the most effective." She added, "Safe practice is the key, which is one reason why the diet must be managed and adjusted for each individual patient.”

Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, rice, crackers, candy and sweets must be eliminated from the diet because even a small amount of one of these foods can upset the metabolic balance that the diet creates, reducing the effectiveness of the diet against seizures.

Beth is also associated with The Charlie Foundation, which was established in 1994 to raise awareness about the ketogenic diet as a treatment for childhood epilepsy. The Foundation's role is to facilitate investigation, educate professionals, and inform families about the current status of the ketogenic diet (www.charliefoundation.org).

With ketogenic Thanksgiving menu suggestions, it appears that the entire family will be able to partake in this holiday of gratitude.

Here are two Thanksgiving meal suggestions for the ketogenic diet:

  • Roasted Turkey Breast
  • Mashed "Potatoes" (pureed cauliflower with butter and heavy cream)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Pumpkin Custard with Whipped Cream
  • Roasted Turkey Dark Meat
  • Acorn Squash with Butter
  • Green Beans Almondine
  • Cranberry Jell-O (sugar-free) with Whipped Cream

Sample menu plans from Matthew’s Friends

In the introduction, they note: We've put together a couple of weekly plans to demonstrate the variety and palatability of the diet. Whilst there's a lot of variation of meals and ingredients within these plans, don't let this put you off! You can be as creative, or as basic, as you want to be on the diet - many parents achieve success on the diet with only a few meal plans. http://site.matthewsfriends.org/index.php?page=sample-weekly-plans

Authored by: Rita Watson on 11/2007
Reviewed by: Steven C. Schachter, MD on 11/2007
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