Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet: A Keto Dietitian’s Guide

In today’s guest blog post, ketogenic dietitian and keto ambassador Vanessa Aldaz, MPH, RD, CDE, shares her tips for parents with a child going back to school on the ketogenic diet. Thanks, Vanessa!

Back to SchoolSo perhaps one of the major things you did with your child this summer was going on the ketogenic diet. School will soon be back in session and managing the diet may now require the assistance of others involved in your child’s care. This can be very anxiety-producing to many parents. You can try to set up a meeting with school officials and your child’s teacher and school nurse and see what or how they are willing to help. Educating them on the importance of the ketogenic diet in a positive way can lead to a lot more assistance than an overwhelming feeling and having them too scared to help. Remember you want them to be on your side and help but not scare them to the point that they become too nervous to help.

Here are a few tips that may help to make this transition a lot easier.

1. Kindly ask your keto team or RD to write you a school letter addressing key points of the ketogenic diet. Include in the letter all that pertains such as: important do’s and don’ts, foods allowed or not allowed, a feeding schedule and how meals will be given (orally or tube-fed), any meds or supplements that may need to be given during school hours and a clear indication of whether snacks and or lunch will be provided from home only, or if the school will be expected to prepare any part of a meal. If on tube feeds make sure all is specified including any water flushes, formula name, amount and how feeds will be given.

2. Ask your Social worker or keto team to also assist with a 504 plan or IEP for support ensuring supervision during meal times and support making sure that no unplanned snacks are given or unexpectedly taken. Unfortunately, I have had some families quit the diet too early on because of lack of support from the school.

3. Look up Nutricia’s “Epilepsy and the School Lunch Program”- a helpful way to ensure your child receives her keto formula at school as part of her school lunch.

4. It is also helpful to provide the school or day care with extra cans of keto formula and additives, if any, along with the most current recipe for your child’s formula preparation in case of an emergency.

5. It would be wise to also have a ketogenic diet emergency kit: include important phone numbers, keto formula (KetoCal 4:1 LQ is ideal as it comes in a tetrapak and can be used anywhere), bottled water, flash light, batteries, an extra scale with batteries, diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, blanket, urine ketone testing strips, and keto friendly dried foods such as KetoCal powders, sugar free jell-O, canned veggies or low carb foods (baby foods are small and compact), and instructions just in case.

6. Providing “all in one meals” versus foods separated in different compartments can ensure that even if your child does not finish his lunch he will still be eating his few bites in the correct ratio!

7. In case of a food cheat or unplanned extra carb, omit the carb from the next meal or discuss a “fat bomb” recipe option with your dietitian.
8. Make lunch fun- don’t forget the cool lunchbox in your child’s favorite cartoon or comic character and if you want send sticky notes daily reminding them of how wonderful he/ she is and how much they are loved! You are also their cheerleader!

To continue making school lunches fun: here are a few ideas for fun keto lunches. Ask your keto RD for more ideas. For MAD or Classical Diets:

-Pizza: Try KetoCal pizza (3:1,4:1,MAD), pizza muffins, or pizza rolls made with low carb, high fiber tortillas or an egg base.
-Veggie Rolls: On a Nori seaweed paper sheet add cucumbers, spinach, grated carrots and combine with a keto dip like avocado and mayo or a cream cheese dip.
-Skewers: Make pepperoni and cheese bites on skewers. Other ideas include fruit, veggie, meat or cheeses.

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For more information & tips on going back to school on the ketogenic diet, check out these previous blogs:

Informing the School About Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet

Packing the Ketogenic Lunchbox

KetoCal and the National School Lunch Program

A Keto Mom’s Guide to Preparing Keto Lunches

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