On this diet, the amount of food is carefully weighed so that your child will eat all the calories she needs for good health, but not so many that she gains weight. The fat content of the food doesn’t affect weight if you strictly limit total calories.
Some parents report that mealtimes on the diet can wrap up in twenty minutes, while others say they have to sit with their children for two hours before all the food is finished.
A child must finish all the food because the meal is put together in amounts that will give him the right balance between fat, protein, and carbohydrates. If it’s not all eaten, the balance is lost, and the child may have a seizure.
Since this is important, parents often try tricks like playing a video during meals or playing games to distract the child while they’re encouraging the child to eat.
Parents who’ve been successful advise others to use the diet creatively, and try to offer something new and special for each meal to keep the child’s interest. Older children, who know that the diet is helping to keep their seizures away, may be more cooperative.
All medicines and pharmaceuticals, from toothpaste to cough syrup to vitamins to prescription medicine, must, whenever possible, be free of sugar and other carbohydrates. Remind your doctor to prescribe all needed medications in sugar-free and carbohydrate-free forms. Read labels carefully and check with your pharmacist.
When children are switched from a normal diet to a 90 percent fat diet, both cholesterol and triglyceride levels can go up. However, the ketogenic diet is not a lifetime diet. Children stay on it about two years. When weaned off the diet, most children return to their pre-diet levels.
Your dietitian will help you plan meals that can go to school with your child. Tuna, egg, or chicken salads are easy to carry in small plastic containers. Warm or chilled food can be carried in a small cooler or insulated bag, or wrapped in foil.
There are many celebrations at school that involve food. It’s very important for all the teachers and aides to know that your child cannot have the same treats that the other children get. You may want to ask school personnel to let you know in advance when treats are planned so that you can send a keto-correct treat for your child.
It’s a good idea to have a meeting with your child’s teachers and everyone your child comes in contact with at the beginning of every school year. Make them understand that even half a cookie or a bite of cupcake can lead to seizures, hospital, and the loss of seizure control.
Post a notice at school: This child must not be fed anything not brought from home.
Young children say, “I’m a special kid on a special diet.” Older children can impress their friends by telling them about all the shakes, cheesecakes, pancakes and omelets they get to eat on their special diet.
The dietitian will be able to give you special recipes to keep the mood festive while allowing children to stick to the diet. If your doctor or dietitian is treating other children on the ketogenic diet, those parents may have good ideas to share with you. However, always check with your child’s dietitian before trying something new.
One family offers the following suggestion for Halloween, which is all about candy and sugary treats. They let their keto kid go trick or treating like the other neighborhood children, but when the child gets home, the parents buy back the candy and the child then uses the money to buy a special toy.