A Mother's Plan for the Ketogenic Diet

Epilepsy News From: Monday, July 02, 2007

Last month we looked at how I started Matthew on the Ketogenic diet. It took a bit of time to clear the decks at home and clear my diary. I advised getting any lingering paperwork out of the way or any unfinished jobs. Anything that plays on your mind with the ‘I must do ……’ – do it and get it out of the way. It is usually the case that if there is to be any improvement using the diet, you will see it within the first three months.

You will find that it is important to ask questions about this diet and how it will affect your child. Never stop asking questions. Even if you think they sound daft, ask it anyway. If it is worrying you, then whatever “it” is needs to be addressed. This should be a three-month commitment and if, at the end of that time, things have not gone well, then at least you will know that you did your very best and did everything correctly.

Preparing Your Child and Yourself

Before you actually start the diet, try your child with a few things first without all the weighing and measuring. Start off with easy things like their drinks. If they are used to having full sugar varieties, then go to the ones that are allowed. Try flavored waters, but look for the ones that have a ‘trace’ of carbs.

Drinks -- Ask your dietitian for a list of recommended drinks that they will be including on the diet.

Desserts -- Try whipping up cream as a mousse instead of puddings, or freezing it into ice pops and serving that as a pudding.

Vegetables -- Try out different vegetables, but first make a list of the ones your child likes. If plain cauliflower isn’t a favorite, then put a cheese sauce over it. However, make the sauce from cream and cheese with no flour in it. You might also try to add some bacon for flavor.

Refined carbs -- Start cutting back on the refined carbs. Reduce the amount of pasta, rice and potatoes. Make fries from Celeriac, celery root, instead. Our UK kids love them. Some of the children that are now off the diet insist that their mum still makes these! Don’t worry about weighing at this stage – just try and get a feel for what your child likes and see if you can incorporate it into meals for the entire family.

The Pre-test

If you can do a ‘testing’ period then this will make life easier for you and your dietitian, but most of all it will help your child realize that there will still be things that he/she likes on the diet, and then it will be easier to implement the diet.

Recipes -- Try some of the Ketogenic Recipes beforehand. Perhaps even join a forum/support group where you can ask questions whenever you want and there will always be someone there to answer them for you.

Menu plans -- Even if you only start off with 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners and 2 snacks – this may see you through the first week of the diet until your confidence has grown a little. I even know of one child who only had these number of meals the entire time he was on the diet and he loved them and was quite happy with them.

I have lost count of the number of families that contact me at the start of their child’s diet wanting lots and lots of recipes and thinking that they will have to be some kind of Super Chef to do this diet. Talk about putting themselves under pressure and setting themselves up for failure!

Do not try to have loads of different recipes for the diet and think that every meal must be different with lots of different ingredients. Think about this logically – do we in our normal everyday lives cook different things all the time? Do we really have extensive menus we use for our families or do we just normally cook the same things week after week?

Try and keep your child’s menu similar to what you are cooking for all the family. However you may just need to do some adapting. For example, if you are serving the family Spaghetti Bolognese then adapt the recipe for your child using spaghetti squash or shredded cabbage/celery instead of pasta.

Weighing and measuring -- You will have to weigh things out at every mealtime once the diet starts and this will get easier with practice. You do have to be organized and keep your basic stock cupboard up to date. As far as actual preparation is concerned, once your confidence has grown, the diet is no more troublesome than making up bottles for a baby.

Most importantly, be prepared for the biggest shock of all: seeing the size of a ketogenic meal for the first time – it will be tiny and you will think that your child will be permanently hungry and miserable with those tiny meals.

Remember that the diet can act as an appetite suppressant and your child should not be hungry on the diet. Chances are that the calories won’t be too much lower than those before the diet, but it is just the ratio of types of food that has changed. The calories are now coming from fat and not from carbohydrates and proteins. Fat has more than double the amount of calories than that of carbs and protein.

It will take time to get your head around this, but if this diet works for your child it will be worth all of it.

I hope some of what I have written here has been useful and if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact me at emma@matthewsfriends.org. It is always a pleasure to hear from our friends overseas.

And from all your friends here in the UK, we wish you the very best with your own Ketogenic Journeys.

Emma Williams
Founder/Chief Executive
Parent Representative – KetoPAG

Authored by

Emma Williams

Reviewed by

Steven C. Schachter, MD

Reviewed Date

Monday, July 02, 2007

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