A Keto Dietitian’s Tips for Families Celebrating the Winter Holidays, Keto-Style!

Thanksgiving is a week from today and the rest of winter holidays are right around the corner! In today’s guest blog post, ketogenic dietitian Robyn Blackford, RDN, LDN, provides her tips for families celebrating the holidays while on the ketogenic diet. Thanks for these awesome tips, Robyn!


For people following a ketogenic diet during the holidays, it doesn’t have to be a season of additional stressors. Parents of children who follow a special medical diet, including the ketogenic diet, may even find the upcoming holidays easier to survive than they first thought.

I often hear that extended family members are very supportive of their child’s special diet. Educating others on the diet will open your family up to a potentially strong support system. Most people like to hear about the nuances of the special diet and learn how they, too, can help. Talking about the diet and getting that ‘pat on the back’ can give you just enough motivation and energy to make the next special meal. Siblings may ask if they, too, can have the yummy, magical keto food that you are preparing. What a nice, fun, supportive time that this can be for your whole family!

Whether you are hosting holidays at your house or joining others elsewhere, you are sure to be successful to sticking to your ketogenic diet during these festive days if you practice these tips.

Holidays at your house:

* Consider serving a low carb dish on your menu. There are many low carb recipes readily available, such as a cauliflower mash in place of mashed potatoes. This may be helpful for others to understand some of the details and enjoy the foods that are part of the special diet

* Using festive holiday plates, bowls, and napkins to distract from ordinary or special diet food is a welcome change for people of any age! Try using cookie cutters to make foods more appealing and brightly colored toothpicks to add fun to your holiday meal.

* Keep food out of reach for tiny guests that are on a special diet. This way they cannot snatch foods quicker than you can say no or be able to take it away from them. They can be faster than you anticipate!

Holidays as a guest:

* Consider eating or serving your keto meal before leaving the house. This way you do not have to worry about finding foods you can eat later when you or your child is hungry. Talking to the holiday host can help you be successful if you plan on eating a little something at the get-together.

* Plan to serve and eat your favorite keto foods while away from home in easy-to-warm-up containers. It can be quite a treat if you haven’t had that favorite food in a while.

* For smaller children, be sure to pack a bag full of toys and fun things to help distract them from focusing on food. Do not underestimate the power of non-food rewards during playtime!

 

In any case, make sure that you plan ahead. Mentally prepare your child to resist food that is not part of their special diet and prepare yourself to teach others about the positive impact the diet has had on your lives.

Helping people follow their ketogenic diet can be one of the best gifts you can give them during the holiday season!

-Robyn

Halloween on the Ketogenic Diet: New Ideas & Traditions

In today’s guest blog post, ketogenic dietitian and keto ambassador Vanessa Aldaz, MPH, RD, CDE, shares her tips for parents managing Halloween with a child on a ketogenic diet. Thanks for these fabulous ideas, Vanessa!


It’s that time of year again when not only is it getting colder outside, school is on a roll and well, everything is going well. However, you walk into pretty much any store to find decorations colored in black and orange and entire sections of candies and sugar right at the entrance! What is a keto-parent to do?  You hear the chatter of children talking about what costume they’ll be dressing up as this year, and then there’s the whirlwind thought of “Can my keto kid go trick or treating? Can we make it through this holiday without a sentimental scratch?” The answer is: yes! Children on the ketogenic diet can have just as much fun as any other kid out there celebrating Halloween. There may need to be some rules that other kids may not need to stick to, but the fun won’t be a disappearing act. Here are more than a few ideas to make Halloween on the ketogenic diet fun, crafty, ghoulalicious, and sure to set new traditions.

Can my child go trick or treating? Yes, yes, and sure! Let them only collect a bag full of candy and not eat them, but at the end of the night you can have them participate in a few new fun ideas or traditions (read ideas below). The other great thing about this is that they went for a walk and got some exercise. A good rule of thumb is to have them eat dinner or a filling snack BEFORE going trick or treating so they don’t get the munchies once they are out there.

New Fun Ideas & Traditions

  1. The first one, I truly have to say I stole the idea from one of my patients with diabetes a while back, but come to think about it, it works!! For a keto kid it’s genius! Once your child has come home with a bag full of candy and treats, have them count them with you and put them in a bag for the “Switch Witch” – yes she’s that sweet tooth , sugar eating witch with rotting teeth who’s willing to take your child’s candy and switch them over for a fun toy or surprise that your child will wake up to the next morning! – taadaa you have replaced a treat your child cannot eat with a fun surprise of your choosing that your child is sure to love and not miss that candy. Feel free to come up with your own Halloween “goblin” that will replace candy for a treat.
  2. If the above doesn’t work for you or if it just screams of spoiling your child then have your kids collect the candy and donate the candies to our troops overseas. Many dental offices will collect candies that your little ones collect. Not sure if this includes a discount on your next visit though, hehe.
  3. You can also try to have close friends and neighbors have a pre-set keto treat bag for your little one when they ring their door bell and say “trick or treat”. A bag full of little non-edible goodies like Halloween stickers, spider rings, bubbles, erasers, pencils, etc. Places like Walmart, the dollar store or 99 cent sections at other stores are filled with fun little trinkets. These can also be taken to school to hand out to your child’s classmates.
  4. Focus on costumes, not on the candy! – have a costume contest. Dress up your child in their favorite costume or disguise. Be creative, decorate their stroller or make their wheelchair part of their disguise. Pinterest had some amazing ideas like a brand new toy still in the box, the box is the stroller and the doll or toy is your child.
  5. Host a Halloween party, play games and focus on non-edible treats. You can have them paint mini pumpkins, tossing balls or any other fun game. Focus on the fun decorations! If you do get trick or treaters to your house, instead of having a large bowl of candy that might get into the wrong hands or mouth, try pre-packaging them into sealed “grab bags” for  non-keto kids to take home.
  6. Go on a Halloween-themed adventure! Visit a pumpkin patch, go on a hay ride or if your child is old enough and able, perhaps a not so haunted house might not be a bad idea. Or go to a theme park- Many theme parks will be all decked out all month long or host a series of fun events for the whole family to enjoy. Disney theme parks are amazing that time of year.
  7. Lastly, if you would like to make some fun Halloween Keto treats, here are some ideas. Just make sure you double check with your keto team and RD to ensure it fits your child’s keto diet prescription.

-Keto Chocolates: cocoa butter flavored with stevia flavoring drops, put in fun candy molds and enjoy.

-Sugar free jell-o molds. Try the Sugar free Jell-O mixed with vanilla KetoCal 4:1 LQ and put in fun Halloween molds, yummy!

-KetoCal crustless pumpkin pie

-KetoCal chocolate cupcakes

Happy Halloween and enjoy.

-Vanessa

 

Ketogenic Diet –A Dietitian’s Tips for Summer Break

As summer break approaches, you may have some anxiety about being out of your regular keto routine. In today’s guest blog post, ketogenic dietitian and keto ambassador Lindsey Thompson, MS, RD, CSP, LD, shares her tips for managing your child’s ketogenic diet over summer break. Thank you, Lindsey!


Summer break can be school-free splendor for kids (and parents!); however, the relaxed schedule can pose some challenges for kids with epilepsy who are on a ketogenic diet.

Many kids and teens with epilepsy rely on the structure and schedule that the school year provides. Furthermore, as a treatment for epilepsy, the ketogenic diet tends to work best when provided on a schedule. As we transition into summer, here are some tips for managing the ketogenic diet in a more spontaneous environment:

Create a schedule for summer

Start with a monthly calendar and identify the different types of days (such as typical, weekend and vacation days). Then create templates for times meals and snacks will be offered depending on the day. The schedule you create can be similar or different to typical school days depending on what is best for your child. Include all of your children in the schedule so that everyone is expected to follow it. Visually display the schedule and use sticker charts if needed for motivation.

Plan ahead

Pick a day or time to prepare ketogenic meals and snacks for the days or weeks ahead. Many of you already do this during the school year, and there is no need to discontinue this for summer. You’ll also want to plan for extra snacks given that your schedule may be more variable in the summer with sports games, visits to the zoo or other family outings. Planning ahead will help you avoid a “keto emergency” i.e., your child is starving and you don’t have a meal or snack weighed out and ready-to-go.

If you’re taking a vacation, you’ll also want to do plenty of planning related to the travel itself (you may need letters from your physician describing your child’s diet for airplane travel, etc), acquiring ketogenic-friendly food in your vacation destination (you may need to call the local grocery stores or the hotel itself) and having adequate accommodations (such as a refrigerator and microwave in your room).

Drink plenty of fluids!

Fluid is important for children on ketogenic diets in order to avoid many of the possible side effects of the diet. Your child will generally need more water in the summer to stay hydrated. Ask your dietitian how much fluid your child needs if you are not sure.

Have your child/teen involved with the preparation of his or her diet

Since your child will likely have more time on his or her hands, there will be a great opportunity for him and her to be involved in meal preparation. You can make an activity out of it by having your child make shopping lists, prep or weigh foods, cut fruits or vegetables (if age appropriate) and assemble meals. A benefit here is that children and teens who are involved in meal preparation are more likely to eat and enjoy what is prepared. Additionally with more active involvement, your child may take more ownership of his or her diet …and this may roll over into the school year as well!

Have fun! Use the extra time to get creative with new recipe ideas.

Here are some suggestions for fun summer treats:

Ketocal Blueberry Smoothie:

Ketocal Creamy Gelatin Treat

Ketocal Cheese and Tomato Pizza

Ketocal Ice Cream

I hope these tips will help ease you and your child on the ketogenic diet into a safe and fun summer!

-Lindsey


Check out Lindsey’s other guest blog post, “Tips for Families Getting Ready to Start the Ketogenic Diet”

A Dietitian’s Tips for Celebrating Easter on the Ketogenic Diet

Lindsey Thompson, MS, RD, CSP, LD

We are pleased to welcome back Lindsey Thompson, MS, RD, CSP, LD.  Lindsey is a ketogenic dietitian and Keto Ambassador from Kansas City. In today’s guest blog post, Lindsey shares her tips and recipe ideas for families celebrating Easter with a child on the ketogenic diet. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Lindsey!

In case you missed her previous guest blog post this month, be sure to check out Lindsey’s tips for families preparing to start the ketogenic diet.


One of the challenges for children on specialized diets is that food is often the focal point of holidays. Easter is a holiday that many families celebrate together and is no exception. If you have a family member on the ketogenic diet, including them in your family meal is imperative, but will require some extra planning.

Easter Meals

On Easter many families feature meals with ham or lamb, pies, breads and dishes with eggs. Consider incorporating the type of meat you are serving into a ketogenic meal for your child, such as ham or lamb with a side of fruit or vegetable and cream or other fats. In addition, here are a few keto-friendly dishes you might consider for your family member’s Easter meal:

KetoCal Cheese and Ham Tart

KetoCal Cheesy Tomato Tart

KetoCal Apple Crumble with Whipped Cream

Ketogenic Deviled Eggs:

Use the following ingredients to put into your child’s ketogenic diet planner to calculate his or her recipe:

  • Egg white- cooked
  • Egg yolk- cooked
  • Mayonnaise
  • Butter- softened
  • Small amounts of mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce (if your family member likes spicy foods)
  • Salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Instructions:

  1. Hard boil eggs. Slice eggs in half and remove yolks.
  2. Place the cooked egg yolks in a bowl & mash them up with a fork.
  3. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Scoop the filling into the halved egg whites.
  5. Sprinkle with paprika.

Easter Egg Hunts

In addition to family feasts, many families will attend or have Easter egg hunts for the Easter holiday. Children often hunt and discover plastic eggs filled with treats or goodies. Here are some tips to help include your family member on the ketogenic diet in your family’s Easter Egg Hunt:

Easter is a special holiday for families. With a little extra planning, your child on the ketogenic diet can enjoy and feel included as a part of your family’s Easter traditions.

Happy Easter to all!

-Lindsey

 

For more tips on celebrating Easter while on the ketogenic diet, read Tips and Recipe Ideas for Celebrating Easter or Passover on the Ketogenic Diet.

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Introducing MyKetoPlanner!

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Are you looking for new keto recipe ideas or a platform to contribute your keto recipes to help other families just like you?

We are excited to introduce MyKetoPlanner™: a brand new diet management tool, recipe sharing database, and social network, specifically designed for the Ketogenic Diet Community!

Please note that this program is currently available only in the U.S. For information on availability in your country, please contact your local Nutricia office.

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How Can You Start Using MyKetoPlanner?

Parents of children on the ketogenic diet and adults on the ketogenic diet can register on MyKetoPlanner.com. When registering, you will be prompted to select your health care provider(s) from a list of providers who are registered on the site. Note:

  • If you don’t see your health care provider in the list, you have the option to invite him/her to join.
  • If your keto center has more than one health care provider who will be managing the diet, you can link your account with multiple providers. Simply hold the Control (“Ctrl”) key to select more than one provider.
  • Your account must be linked with a health care provider in order to access the full features of the site.

What Can You Do with MyKetoPlanner?

Create recipes and share them with others in the keto community.

  • Keep your recipes private or share them with the keto community.
  • Include a photo so that others know how to expect the recipe to look.
  • Select the appropriate Category for your recipe (for example, Classical Diet, MAD, LGIT) and select identifying tags (such as 4:1 Ratio, breakfast, dessert, etc.) to make your recipe easy for other users to find.

Search for recipes created and shared by other families and dietitians.

  • Type what you are looking for into the search bar and click “Begin Search” (for example, pizza, pancakes, cookies) or
  • Click on the colored tags to search for recipes that fall under that description. For example, click “breakfast” to see all breakfast recipes, “KetoCal 4:1 Powder” to see all recipes that use KetoCal 4:1 Powder, or “4:1 Ratio” to see all recipes in a 4:1 ketogenic ratio.search

Save shared recipes to your account where your health care provider can review, modify, and verify them for you.

  • When viewing a shared recipe, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Add to My Saved Recipes”. Then send your health care provider a message to ask them to review the recipe and make any necessary modifications for you. Once your health care provider has reviewed it, he/she will “Verify” the recipe so that you know it is okay to use. When viewing your list of saved recipes, you can see whether or not a recipe has been verified by your provider.

Provide your feedback on shared recipes by rating them on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.

Connect with your keto health care provider.

  • Send your provider private messages to ask questions, request new recipes, or to ask him/her to verify recipes that you have created or saved from shared recipes.

Where Can You Access MyKetoPlanner?

The website version of MyKetoPlanner is now accessible at www.myketoplanner.com. Soon MyKetoPlanner will be available through a mobile application which will allow you to access your MyKetoPlanner account on-the-go from your tablet or smart phone! Look out for an announcement in the coming weeks.

We hope that you love MyKetoPlanner and that it makes the ketogenic diet a little easier for you. If you have any questions or comments, contact us using the “Contact Us” page on the site or contact Nutrition Services at 1-800-365-7354, Option 2 or at nutrition.services@nutricia.com.

As always, consult with your health care provider before making any diet changes or introducing any new recipes.

Top Five Books for Parents Learning About the Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy

If you are considering the ketogenic diet for your child, or perhaps your child is already scheduled to begin the ketogenic diet, you are likely seeking all the information that you can find to educate and prepare yourself. Even after your child starts the ketogenic diet, you will likely continue searching for information and resources to support you in managing your child’s diet. Many parents find books to be helpful, so for today’s KetoConnect blog post, we rounded up a list of five of our favorite books for parents learning about the ketogenic diet for epilepsy.

For more resources for parents learning about the ketogenic dietfor epilepsy, check out our list of helpful YouTube videos and infographics.

ketodietsbookKetogenic Diets

This book, by the ketogenic diet team at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is a must-have for both parents and health care professionals.

The Keto Cookbookketocookbook

This ketogenic diet cookbook is co-authored by a mother of a child on the ketogenic diet and a ketogenic  dietitian. It provides a variety of tasty ketogenic recipe ideas.

Keto Kid: Helping Your Child Succeed on the Ketogenic Dietketokid

This book is written by a physician who is also the mother of a child on the ketogenic diet. It provides helpful tips for everyday management of the diet.

Fighting Back with Fatfightingback

This book is written by two mothers of children on the ketogenic diet for seizures. It provides practical tips for parents managing the Classical Ketogenic Diet or the Modified Atkins Diet.

Diet for Seizures: One Child’s Journeydietforseizures

In this book, a father tells about his daughter’s experience with the Modified Atkins Diet for epilepsy. This is a great read for parents, especially those interested in the Modified Atkins Diet.

Do you have feedback about these books or know of another useful book to add to this list? Please share in the comment section below!

The Modified Atkins Diet for Epilepsy

The Modified Atkins Diet: What is it, How does it compare to the classical ketogenic diet and when is it used

Since the Classical Ketogenic Diet was developed in the 1920’s, several variations have emerged, including the Modified Atkins Diet. If you are considering the ketogenic diet for epilepsy management for your child or yourself, you may have come across the “Modified Atkins Diet” and wondered what it is and how it’s different from the Classical Ketogenic Diet. In today’s blog post, KetoCal Medical Advisor and registered dietitian Ellen Sviland-Avery will explain.
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Comparison of the Classical Ketogenic Diet, Modified Atkins Diet, and other variations

The Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) is a less-restrictive variation of the Classical Ketogenic Diet. Although it may not have quite the same success rates seen with the Classical Ketogenic Diet, MAD can be very helpful in managing seizures for some individuals. MAD is still a high fat/low carbohydrate diet but has some key differences from the classical diet.

Differences Between the Modified Atkins Diet and the Classical Ketogenic Diet:

  • Protein is not restricted
    The Classical Ketogenic Diet is designed to provide “adequate protein”, meaning that patients eat enough to sustain their body mass, but no extra. The Modified Atkins Diet does not restrict the amount of protein in the diet.
  • No gram scale required
    While the Classical Ketogenic Diet requires that foods be weighed on a gram scale, foods are measured using household measurements (like cups, tablespoons, etc.) on the Modified Atkins Diet.
  • Not designed according to the ketogenic ratio-
    As you may recall from our previous post on the ketogenic ratio, the Classical Ketogenic Diet is designed according to a ratio, usually 4:1 or 3:1 (grams of fat: carbohydrate + protein). The Modified Atkins Diet is not designed according to a ratio, but is simply based on limiting carbohydrates, usually to 10-20 grams/day. However, if you were to calculate the ketogenic ratio of a typical MAD, it would come out to about a 1:1 ratio.
  • Outpatient initiation
    While hospital admission is usually required when starting the Classical Ketogenic Diet, the Modified Atkins Diet is usually initiated in an outpatient setting.

Similarities Between the Modified Atkins Diet and the Classical Ketogenic Diet:

  • Carbohydrates are restricted-
    Like the Classical Ketogenic Diet, carbohydrates are restricted on the Modified Atkins Diet, usually to 10-20 grams/day. Hidden sources of carbohydrate must still be monitored to ensure that patients are not consuming more than the recommended amount. Label reading is a must for all OTC products as well. See the previous post on sources of hidden carbohydrates.
  • Fat consumption is encouraged-
    Fat consumption is encouraged on the Modified Atkins Diet. It can be difficult for patients on the MAD to get enough fat to remain in ketosis, so sometimes dietitians will recommend supplementing with KetoCal to boost daily fat intake.  A 2010 study found that consuming KetoCal daily helps to improve the efficacy of the Modified Atkins Diet.
  • Supplements are usually required-
    Although the Modified Atkins Diet is less restrictive than the Classical Ketogenic Diet, nutritional supplements are usually still required to ensure your child is meeting 100% of nutrition needs. Work with your dietitian to determine what, if any, supplements are necessary. All versions of the ketogenic diet can be deficient in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin D, B vitamins and calcium, to name a few. This is one of many reasons why it is so important to only use the ketogenic diet and MAD under close medical supervision.

When is the Modified Atkins Diet Used?

The Modified Atkins Diet may be used to extend the use of dietary management of seizures to patients who are not candidates for the Classical Ketogenic Diet. Below are some examples of situations where the MAD might be used:

  • As a stepping stone to the Classical Ketogenic Diet-
    Families might use the Modified Atkins Diet in preparation for starting the traditional diet or as a trial to see if dietary management is likely to be helpful.
  • As a transition from the Classical Ketogenic Diet-
    Some patients may follow the Modified Atkins Diet when transitioning off of the Classical Ketogenic Diet. Some health care providers and families prefer to wean gradually from the Classical Ketogenic Diet, so they may switch to a MAD before coming off the ketogenic diet completely.
  • Families with limited time and resources-
    Some families may not be able to commit to the requirements of initiating and managing the Classical Ketogenic Diet, so the outpatient initiation and less restrictive nature of the Modified Atkins Diet may be more appropriate.
  • Older children, teenagers, and adults-
    Older children, teenagers, and adults may have trouble complying with the Classical Ketogenic Diet, so the Modified Atkins Diet may be easier for them to maintain. Also, because these patients have larger body masses, they may have trouble meeting their protein needs on the Classical Ketogenic Diet.

These are just some examples of when the Modified Atkins Diet might be used. If you are considering dietary management of epilepsy, you will work with your doctor and dietitian to determine whether the Classical Ketogenic Diet, Modified Atkins Diet, or another variation works best for you and your family.

-Ellen

Big News: We Have a Blog!

BlogWe are so excited to announce our blog, KetoConnect, an online resource for parents of children on the ketogenic diet for epilepsy. The purpose of KetoConnect is to keep keto moms and dads informed of the latest news and events, while sharing useful tips, recipe ideas and resources to support you in managing your child’s ketogenic diet. We hope KetoConnect will provide support for parents at various stages of their child’s ketogenic diet journey, from the time they start considering  and researching it, to the time their child is weaned off of the diet.

KetoConnect is written by a team from Nutricia North America, the makers of KetoCal®, so we will provide parents with useful information, tips and recipe ideas related to KetoCal. However, the goal of the blog is to provide support for the ketogenic diet in general so our posts will cover a broad range of topics. We’ll even have parents and health care providers as guest bloggers to provide a variety of perspectives. Please let us know if you are interested in contributing!

Starting next Tuesday, look out for our weekly blog posts. We hope you’ll join the conversation and welcome your questions, comments, topic suggestions, and feedback!

-The KetoConnect Team

Photo: Flickr user xioubin low