We are excited to share this guest blog post from keto mom Dana Haddox-Wright. As always, Dana is full of helpful tips and insights for other parents.
I have a daughter with a debilitating form of epilepsy, and before starting on the ketogenic diet she had status seizures at least twice a week requiring emergency intervention. When my daughter’s neurologist suggested to my husband and me that we put her on the keto diet, I was instantly stressed by the idea. I knew that it may help, but I was concerned that I would not be able to fit it into our daily routine.
I was also apprehensive because keto is so restrictive. Living in a world where food is such a large part of our culture, I was afraid that I would be depriving her in some way. However, I came to the realization that having her in an ambulance on a weekly basis was no way for her to live. I consulted with friends about how they manage the diet. Most of the parents with kids on the ketogenic diet had only good things to say about it in terms of seizure control, so we decided to try it. Within 3 days of being on the ketogenic diet my nearly 3 year old daughter was fully potty-trained, and she was more verbal than ever before.
Fast forward to 3 years later and my daughter is still on the ketogenic diet. It has become part of our daily schedule. It is not always easy, but we have a system in place that seems to work.
Below is my daily schedule, and I am sure other parents may relate:
|6:45am – Wake up and get to cooking|
|7:00am – Prepare keto lunch and keto snack for the oldest|
|7:15am – Place keto meal in oven and start packing non keto meal for the youngest|
|7:45am – Finish packing lunches and start preparing keto breakfast and typical breakfast|
|8:00am – Breakfast finished and ready to eat|
|8:15am – Get the little ones dressed and ready for school|
|8:30am – Drop off the kids|
|9:00am – Work|
|3:15pm – Pick up the oldest|
|3:30pm – Prepare second keto snack|
|4:45pm – Pick up the youngest|
|5:15pm – Both kids home, time to prepare all the meals (keto and typical)|
|6:00-6:30pm – Dinner is served|
|7:30pm – Time to get ready for Bed|
|8:00pm – Kids are asleep. Need to finish the work I could not finish during the day|
Based on this routine, how does one find free time? How can we incorporate keto into our day without becoming overwhelmed? There are certainly ways to manage the keto diet and follow the daily regimen without losing all sanity.
1 – Cook ahead of time. I laugh when I read this. The concept of dragging my tired-self off of the couch when the kids are in bed is almost painful, but sometimes I do have a little extra energy to make a few bake and freeze pizzas or some school snacks before I relax. What you accomplish at night will save you some stress in the morning.
2 – Time is ticking. Think fast. On any given day, I have a short amount of time to think through what to prepare for my daughter’s breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I typically ask my daughter what she would like for lunch and/or snack. On some mornings, she will request a vanilla KetoCal shake (“happy dance” time). Otherwise, she has her “go to” meals or favorites that I can make quickly: hot dogs in sauce (mayo and low sugar ketchup) with cream on the side, pizza, or cake with whipped cream frosting. I have become very efficient at putting these things together and having them baking/cooking while I pack lunch for my younger daughter. Again, the better (least realistic) option is to cook ahead.
3 – Dinners are made easier when keto meal looks like everyone else’s dinner. One can use items for keto meals that the rest of the family will have in their food. For example, if it is taco night create a keto-taco recipe that contains the same ingredients. I have a simple keto-taco recipe that includes: iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, sour cream, ground beef, and oil. I usually measure out and/or cook the keto meal first and then focus on the meal for the rest of the family. That way, we can all eat at the same time.
4 – Keep It Simple. It may seem silly, but the longer I cook keto the easier it is for me to build-in time savings. Recipes do not have to be elaborate or complicated. If you don’t feel like whipping egg whites to make a crust, don’t whip them. Taste is what really matters. If mixing all ingredients in one bowl will not affect taste, then do that. You can even create more all-in-one recipes that keto kids will enjoy. Also, rely on your keto kids to let you know what they like. My daughter will often cycle between 3 or 4 different recipes for a while. Giving choices empowers keto kids in an otherwise restrictive situation. I want my daughter to enjoy her food, so I feel that she deserves to have a voice in meal planning.
In a perfect world no child would ever need to be put on the ketogenic diet, but we all know that we do not live in a perfect world. Our lives are not perfect and we are not perfect, so we have to make the best of our circumstances. Provided we stay within the parameters of the diet set by our keto dietitians, we can be creative and make the diet fun. This regimen is literally a labor of love, because if we did not love our children we would not be spending so much time on their meals. It takes a lot of thought and practice finding ways to make the ketogenic diet less tedious, but once we get a knack for it, we may be surprised how fast things come together.
I have been paid by Nutricia for my time to write this blog post but my opinions are my own.