Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet: Blog Roundup

back to school busWe don’t have to tell you that managing your child’s ketogenic diet can be tricky. As the kids head back to school, you may find that it gets a little more complicated. We’ve compiled a list of blog posts to help support you. From tips for informing the school about the diet to ideas for packing a keto-friendly lunchbox, we hope that this blog collection will help make your keto kid’s transition back to school as smooth as possible.

 

 

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 9-year-old daughter has Dravet Syndrome and has been on the ketogenic diet for over 5 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. 

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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. 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 dietitian, 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

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

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

Tips for Managing Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet Over the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us! This time of year tends to be very food-focused, which can make it challenging for parents of children on restrictive diets. Robyn Blackford, a ketogenic dietitian from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, helped us to come up with some tips for managing the holidays with a child on the ketogenic diet.

Plan Ahead for Meals & Treats

  • Talk to your child’s dietitian for any recipes that you may need well before the time you need them.
  • Make the recipes in advance to ensure that they taste good and travel well.
  • For holiday meals, if possible, find out what will be served ahead of time so that you can find keto-variations to match what everyone else will be eating.
  • Make a few batches of keto treats to have handy over the holidays so that you can provide them for your child at school parties, family get-togethers, etc. when other kids are enjoying treats.

Prepare for Holiday Meals & Get-Togethers

Preparing your child:

  • It’s important to prepare your child for holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties. Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and practice saying “No, thank you” if offered any foods other than the foods that you bring.
  • For holiday meals, some kids may enjoy a smaller, kid-friendly, holiday-themed dinner plate. Smaller, sectioned plates can be helpful for making keto meals more appealing to children and also make it less obvious that their meal is smaller in size than a typical meal. On the other hand, some kids may prefer to have the same dinner plate as everyone else so that they don’t feel different. Talk with your child ahead of time to find out which option he or she prefers. If you go with the small, child-friendly plate, you might also bring some for all of the children attending to enjoy!

Preparing friends & family:

  • Let family members and friends know ahead of time about your child’s special diet so that they know not to offer foods other than the food that you bring for your child. By letting everyone know ahead of time, you can avoid having the conversation in front of your child, which might make your child feel self-conscious.

Preparing your child’s school:

  • If there will be a holiday party at your child’s school and food will be provided, remind your child’s teacher(s) that your child cannot have any food except for the food that you send. If there will be treats provided, send a special keto treat for your child so that he or she doesn’t feel left out. You might also send along non-food, holiday-themed treats like stickers, pencils, etc. for all of the children to enjoy.

Embrace Non-food Variations of Favorite Holiday Traditions

A lot of holiday traditions involve foods that are not allowed on the ketogenic diet, but you can still enjoy them by taking a new, non-food spin on favorite traditions.gingerbread house

  • If your family enjoys making gingerbread houses, you can make a non-food gingerbread house this year using a cardboard box, paper, cotton balls, jewels, glitter, puff balls, stickers, etc. Here’s one that we made as an example. They are just as much fun to make and they last longer!
  • Rather than filling your child’s Christmas stocking with candy, fill it with non-food treats like small toys, stickers, markers, fun socks, etc.

We hope that you find these tips helpful for managing your child’s ketogenic diet over the holidays.  With a little creativity, improvising and planning ahead, you can make your child’s holiday as normal as possible. Try to remember that although food seems like such an important part of holiday celebrations, most of our best childhood memories of the holidays have nothing to do with the food.

Happy holidays, everyone!

-Robyn

 

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

KetoCal is a trademark of SHS International LTD.

KetoCal is a medical food for use under medical supervision.

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