Nutrition and Seizure Control
Does what I eat affect my epilepsy?
Studies dating back to the 1920s have shown that diet can improve seizure control in people who have epilepsy. Although these studies are based on a strict diet called the ketogenic diet, recent evidence has shown that less restrictive diets may also be helpful. The modified Atkins diet and the Low Glycemic Index treatment are two such diets that have been studied.
The common feature of these diets is that they eliminate sugar and all sweets. Nutritionists who counsel people with epilepsy have noted that even simple but consistent diet changes have resulted in improvement in seizure control. These diet changes include steps towards a natural, whole foods diet. They do not require medical supervision and may be adopted by anyone who wishes to improve his or her diet. It may take several days or even a few weeks of consistently eating a healthier diet to affect your epilepsy.
How do I begin?
Dietary habits can be hard to change if too many changes are made at the same time. It is also very common for people to get excited about a ‘new diet’ but lose that enthusiasm after two weeks. Making one change at a time is best. We recommend that you take the time to talk to a family member or friend about your intentions to improve your diet. This will help you to commit to making positive changes. He or she may even join you in this endeavor.
Step One: Eliminate Simple Sugars
The first step is a very important one; eliminate foods with a high concentration of simple sugars. This type of carbohydrate has a high glycemic index which means that they are rapidly absorbed into the body. Once you have eliminated these foods completely for several weeks, you may find that you no longer have the desire to eat them. Your body will be more satisfied with whole, natural foods.
Step Two: Eat a Whole, Natural Foods Diet
This is a major step that can be broken down into smaller steps. Eating a diet that consists of whole, natural foods is a very healthy diet. Whole foods are foods that have little or no processing. Minimally processed foods have at most 3 ingredients. If you see a food label listing more than 3 ingredients, you can be sure that it is processed. Whole, natural foods have the highest concentration of nutrients and the least artificial ingredients.
Learn more about different types of foods that fit into a proper diet and their benefits.
Epilepsy centers provide you with a team of specialists to help you diagnose your epilepsy and explore treatment options.
Find in-depth information on anti-seizure medications so you know what to ask your doctor.
Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline
Call our Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline and talk with an epilepsy information specialist or submit a question online.
Tools & Forms
Download our seizure tracking app, print out seizure action plans, or explore other educational materials.