We are delighted to welcome our very first guest blogger to KetoConnect. Dana is a mother of two adorable little girls, one of whom is on the ketogenic diet. We want to thank Dana for sharing her family’s keto story and for these wonderful tips for making the ketogenic diet fun for kids.
5 Tips for Making the Ketogenic Diet Fun
Two years ago, my daughter’s doctor recommended that we put her on the ketogenic diet as a way to help curb her uncontrolled seizures. As a busy mother of two, I felt overwhelmed at the possibility that I might have to add yet another thing to the laundry list of items that had consumed my life up to that point. I was scared that I would not be able to follow the diet as strictly as it required. I was worried that I would not have time to devote to it. Most of all, I was questioning whether it would work for my daughter.
Then we took the leap and put her on it. Within days, we noticed improvements in her behavior and her seizure control. She was having status seizures every 6 weeks, and was not yet potty trained (at nearly 4). After starting the diet, she was fully potty trained within a week and went 6 months without seizing. She also seemed happier. Now, she tends to seize only when overheated or very sick.
It took about 6 months before I started creating my own recipes. I eventually made it my mission to make her food that other kids would want. My goal is to cook meals that my daughter will not only like, but that she will be proud to eat. Here are my top 5 ways of making the ketogenic diet fun:
- Listen to your child– if they are able to verbalize what they want, then try to make it work. – One day my daughter said she wanted carrots and cucumbers. Up to that point, I had not yet created a recipe that included these items. I knew she liked hot dogs, so I made her a meal that included hot dogs, cream, oil, and a side of carrots and cucumbers.
- Keep their favorites handy – sometimes they want to eat the same meal all the time. –Back to the carrots and cucumbers. One day, I asked my daughter what she wanted for breakfast. Her response, “sausage, carrots and cucumbers.” I asked her again for lunch. Again, “sausage, carrots and cucumbers.” I think you know where I am going with this. Needless to say, I always keep hot dogs, sausage (each nitrate-free and filler-free), carrots, and cucumbers in the fridge.
- Be creative – you do not always have to follow recipes word-for-word. – I like to make my daughter the pizza from the keto cookbook, but I do not always like having to whip egg whites, so I bought several shapes of silicone molds. I simply add unwhipped egg whites to the mix and make her “pizza bread” or “pizza bagels”. It actually takes less time. – Another time, she asked for a donut. I did not have a recipe for donuts, but I had a recipe for pancakes. So I poured pancake batter into a donut mold, and voilà, she had a keto donut that she loved!
- Make them feel awesome – “Geez, I wish I could eat princess food.” – The fact of the matter is that, as parents we feel guilty about many things that are out of our control. We do not realize how food-based our culture is until we are presented with huge limitations. I was afraid that I would be depriving my daughter. No more Happy Meals. No more cookies and ice cream. She would be forced to eat food that looked unappetizing and tasted bad. That does not have to be the case. It does not take that much more time to make their food look delicious. Keto-friendly food coloring and flavoring can make something simple look and smell divine. – For my daughter’s 5th Birthday, she wanted to have a Barbie cake. Well, I did some research and reached out to my keto-related support groups. I made it happen. Not only did I make her a Barbie “cupcake” but I also made her friends cakes that looked identical to hers.
- Not all accidents are bad – the frozen Ketocal story. – Sometimes my daughter loves a Ketocal shake and sometimes she does not. We use the Ketocal shakes a lot when we travel or when we do not have time to cook. We were visiting my mother and had to leave to attend an event. My mother thought she would just stick a Ketocal drink into the freezer to chill it. Well, she forgot about it until my daughter mentioned she was hungry. My mother pulled a very frozen Ketocal out and panicked. Then she thought, “Why don’t I serve it as ice cream?” And it was a huge hit. My daughter asks for it to this day. “I want my ice cream.”
So in the end, my suggestion to parents who are new to the diet is to take a deep breath. It can be overwhelming and daunting, but if the diet works, there are more benefits than drawbacks. It does not have to be expensive or overly time-consuming. You just have to focus on what your child is interested in at the time. Eventually you will find your groove.