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”

Back to School: Tips for Packing Keto Lunches

We are excited to welcome back Dana Haddox-Wright, keto mom and guest blogger extraordinaire! Dana lives in Connecticut with her husband and two adorable daughters. Her 6-year-old daughter has Dravet Syndrome and has been on the ketogenic diet for over two years. As you prepare for your children to head back to school, we hope you will find Dana’s tips for packing a keto lunch box useful and timely. Be sure to check out Dana’s previous blog posts: “Tips for Making the Ketogenic Diet Funand “Ten Things That Only Keto Parents Would Understand“.

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Preparing food for children can be a daunting task, particularly when they are on the ketogenic diet. Kids on the diet are not always predictable. What they absolutely love one day, they may not want to touch the next. And the hours spent in the kitchen might drive any parent crazy (or to drinking, whichever comes first). The struggle is real for us. Just when we narrow down several “favorites” the kids love, we are then confronted with another challenge….SCHOOL.

Work Around School Policies

School policies on food vary by district, but most do not allow tree nut products. No macadamia nut, almond, or peanut-based foods are allowed much of the time. This significantly limits our fat options. If your child’s school cafeteria does allow nuts at designated tables, then you are ok. Other parents will need to get creative. Coconut is a useful substitute, but you may need to convince your school administrators that it is ok. When my daughter’s school told me that I would not be able to send in coconut based foods, I was confused. I contacted the keto dietician, and she told me that though coconuts grow on trees they are technically not “tree nuts,” and it is very rare for individuals with tree nut allergies to have a reaction to them. She wrote the school a letter that was shared with the school nurses, and problem solved. Once you know what you CANNOT send to school, you can experiment with alternate recipes. Try using coconut flour or flaxmeal in exchange for nut flours.

Keep It Simple

Another helpful hint is to keep things simple. You can make delicious meals that do not require a lot of components or ingredients. A few of my daughter’s favorites that are not messy or complex include the bake and freeze pizzas (using flaxmeal instead of macadamia nuts), cheesecake, hotdogs with “awesome sauce” (low sugar ketchup and mayonnaise with cut up cooked hot dog mixed in) and a side of cream (made into whipped cream). Last, but not least, a nice water bottle with a keto-safe flavoring and some liquid stevia is a great alternative to the juice boxes that kids often have.

Remember the Social Aspect

Lunch period is time that kids socialize. Something to remember is that kids pay attention to what their peers pack in their lunches. Knowing this, I try to make my daughter’s lunches tasty and fun while meeting all the keto requirements. You may also want use the school lunch calendar as a guide. Attempt to mimic what the school cafeteria will be serving.

Listen to Your Child

Take time to listen to your children. If they say they want carrots or apple, attempt to work them into new recipes (assuming you have time in your busy schedule). In the end, it is all about making things easier while keeping our little ones safe.

Put On Your Advertising Hat

As the head keto-chef in my house, I try to prepare things that even I would want to eat. Think like an advertiser. Market to your child, and everyone wins. Find keto-friendly food coloring for cookies or cakes, or even for their water to add to visual appeal. On a diet that is so restrictive, there are ways to turn limits into opportunities.

Know That It’s All Worth It

Know that the time you spend being a keto mad scientist, is time well spent. Your kids, whether they can verbalize it or not, will appreciate your effort. They will know that you put your love for them into everything including their school meals.

-Dana