As some parents have learned, there are alternative therapies for treating Epilepsy. Many people have great success with the various drug therapies available, with little to no side-effects. There are some children however, for reasons often unknown, find that the various drugs available to them do little to nothing to help control their seizures.
This was the situation we found ourselves in. Over a period of 10 months, Emily was tried on four different medications, in varying doses and combinations. It seemed, for Emily, that the seizures were getting worse, not better. Finally in May of 2012 our family decided that it was time to fight for what we truly believed would be the key to helping Emily; food! But not just any food. What we had in mind was something called the Ketogenic Diet.
In simple terms, the Ketogenic Diet is a high fat (usually about 90%) diet that is prescribed, much like medication by a doctor. There is a specific medical process that needs to be undertaken in order to ensure that the patients health remains stable while on the diet. The diet SHOULD NOT be attempted without the assistance of a trained dietitian and a doctor. Here are some straightforward considerations that you should think about as you contemplate this therapy to help your child:
- The diet is restrictive in terms of the food that is eaten, the times of day the child must eat and the way in which the food is prepared.
- Your child will need to be “trusted” not to eat food that is not allowed, otherwise the diet will not be effective and they may become ill.
- You will need to be organized so that meals are prepared ahead of time and consistent with how you will be properly trained.
- All members of your family, extended family and those in close contact with your child on a regular basis will need to be “educated” about the diet and they will need to understand the need to “stick to the plan”
- There is no such thing as a “cheat” day or meal when the Ketogenic diet is being used to help control your child’s epilepsy; just as you wouldn’t play around with the doses and timing of medication, you must be willing to treat the food like medicine.
- It WILL BE HARD but it WILL BE WORTH IT!
As a family, we originally felt that maybe we could all eat the “Keto way” so that it was easier on Emily. We soon discovered, that despite what a grand gesture of support that was for her, it was just not feasible. The first few weeks we got acquainted with the diet, we spent upwards of 2 hours a day preparing her meals and cleaning up. During her second week on the diet, we decided to go to the movies to get her mind off things. We settled in to our seats only to discover that we had forgotten her snack. Oh yikes!!! Off I went, back home to get her snack so we could stick to the plan.
The Ketogenic Diet is not easy, but it is worth it if it helps your child remain seizure free or greatly reduces the number of seizures they have. Having a great support system in place and having a guide who can share ideas and know what your challenges will be might just be the difference between success and failure.
If you are thinking of incorporating the Ketogenic Diet into your child’s treatment program, but feel you need that little bit of extra support, please contact me today for a free 30-minute coaching consultation: