Medical 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, 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

I was paid by Nutricia for my time to write this blog post, however, my opinions are my own. 

KetoCal is a medical food and is intended for use under medical supervision. 

 

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

Zahava Turner, RD CSP LDN

Zahava Turner, RD, CSP, LDN

We are happy to share today’s guest blog post written by ketogenic dietitian and Keto Ambassador Zahava Turner, RD, CSP, LDN, who shares her tips for families celebrating Passover with a child on the medical ketogenic diet. Thanks, Zahava!


Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the springtime. Any holiday and occasion can be difficult to follow while on a special diet, especially one that revolves around food. However, of all the holidays, Passover might be the easiest to follow while on the medical ketogenic diet because we don’t eat any leavened bread. Many foods or drinks that contain even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which weren’t guarded from leavening, are excluded during Passover. This includes carb-heavy foods like bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages.

For children on the medical ketogenic diet, a small piece of matzah can be calculated into the meal consisting of chicken or meat and vegetables, which will be very similar to what the rest of the family eats. Of course, the quantities will need to be calculated to work with your child’s diet plan and additional fat will likely be required to meet your ketogenic ratio. If needed, ask your child’s dietitian for help ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about calculating the recipe on the day of the feast. Almond flour or any nut flour can be used to create dessert recipes, similar to recipes already calculated for the ketogenic diet. Again, ask your dietitian for help if there is a specific dessert recipe that you want to make “keto-friendly”.

With a little extra planning and help from your dietitian, any person following the medical ketogenic diet should have no trouble joining the rest of the family in enjoying all of the Passover festivities.

-Zahava

I have been paid by Nutricia for my time to write this blog post but my opinions are my own. 

The medical ketogenic diet for epilepsy should be used under medical supervision. 

KetoCal is a medical food for the dietary management of intractable epilepsy and is intended for use under medical supervision. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if KetoCal is right for you.

Summer Camp, Epilepsy, and the Medical Ketogenic Diet

summer campIt’s hard to believe that summer vacation is almost here! Right about now, many of you are looking for summer activities, such as camps, to keep your little one busy over the break. Summer camp is an invaluable childhood experience full of fun, friendships and personal growth. But when your child has epilepsy, finding a suitable summer camp can be a bit more challenging.  If your child is on a medical ketogenic diet for seizure management, it can be even more complicated. Fortunately, there are camps that can accommodate special circumstances and there are even camps specifically for children with epilepsy. With some extra research and planning, you can likely find a camp that will work for your little one. If you are eager for your child to experience summer camp but are unsure how to make it happen, today’s post will provide you with some resources to guide you.

Choosing a Camp:

The first thing to consider is the type of camp that will work best for your child. In some cases, a standard camp (that is, not specifically for children with epilepsy) may work fine as long as the staff is made aware and prepared in case of a seizure.

In other cases, a camp specifically for children with epilepsy, with medical personnel on site, is the best option. Some parents prefer this option because it allows their child to make friends with other children with epilepsy and just be “one of the gang”.  You and your child’s health care provider are the best judge of which option is most appropriate for your family.

If you are searching for an epilepsy camp near you, the Epilepsy Foundation provides a great list of camps in each state.  You can also contact your Epilepsy Foundation affiliate to learn about scholarship options. One epilepsy camp that is located near us and that we love is Camp Great Rocks. This camp is run under the medical management of the Children’s National Medical Center Neurology Team. If you live close to the DC Metro area, be sure to check it out–It’s a very special place!

Once you choose the type of camp, you should also consider whether you are interested in a day camp, where your child attends during the day but comes home in the evenings, or overnight camp, where your child sleeps over at camp. There are also overnight camps for both children and their caregivers. Again, you are the best judge as to which option is most appropriate for your child.

Taking the Medical Ketogenic Diet to Camp:

These days, many camps are able to accommodate children with special diets, such as children with food allergies, so they may be able to accommodate a medical ketogenic diet, so long as you discuss it ahead of time and provide specific instructions. If your child is attending an epilepsy camp, they may already be familiar with the medical ketogenic diet. Note- KetoCal® 4:1 LQ works great as a snack or at mealtimes while at summer camp since it is easily transportable, requires no weighing or mixing, and does not require refrigeration.

Preparing for Camp:

Once you’ve selected a camp for your child, you can take steps to prepare the staff and help keep your child safe while having a great time. The Epilepsy Foundation provides some awesome tips and resources, listed below:

Hopefully this post has provided you with some tips and resources to help guide your camp selection process but, as you know, the best advice comes from other parents. Have any of your children attended summer camp on the medical ketogenic diet? What advice or guidance would you offer other parents who are considering it?

-Mallory

KetoCal® is a medical food for the dietary management of intractable epilepsy and is intended for use under medical supervision. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether KetoCal is right for you.