A Physician Describes Her Own Experiences with the Ketogenic Diet (Audio)

A complimentary follow-up to her previous podcasts about the ketogenic diet, Arlene Martell, founder of EpilepsyMoms.com, discusses the common concern that implementing the diet is “too much work” or is “too hard on parents and the child”. She welcomes guest, Dr. Deborah Snyder, author of “Keto Kid: Helping Your Child Succeed on the Ketogenic Diet”.  Although both women would admit that there is indeed dedication involved with properly following the diet, the myth that it is too hard to follow is one that they hope to dispel.

Dr. Snyder has the unique advantage of discussing the ketogenic diet and its use from two perspectives- that of a physician, and also of a mother of a child with epilepsy. A few months prior to his 4th birthday, Bryce-who was otherwise a healthy and typical developing child- suddenly began to experience various uncontrollable seizures. On the advice of seizure specialists, Bryce was subjected to five different medications, which did not result in seizure control.

Having heard of the ketogenic diet only briefly in medical school, Dr. Snyder didn’t initially give the diet much thought. In an ironically similar story to that of Arlene, it was her mother who called to tell her of Jim Abrahams’ Dateline NBC television special, specific to that of epilepsy and the Ketogenic diet. Watching that program spurred Dr. Snyder into investigating this alternative further for her son, and within 3 weeks of being on the Ketogenic diet, Bryce had obtained seizure control.

Dr. Deborah Snyder

Dr. Deborah Snyder

While most think that the biggest challenge to the Ketogenic diet is the precise measuring and restriction of foods, Arlene and Dr. Snyder discuss that it becomes easier with time- that the longer your child is on the diet, the easier it is to manage. Indeed, the true “challenge” to the Ketogenic diet is just knowing about the diet, and getting your child on it. This is largely due to the fact that despite growing popularity, there are still many medical professionals who don’t truly believe in the diet, and who lack the education and attitude required to successfully implement it. Some also feel that it is too difficult an option for parents, and refrain from telling families that the option exists, offering only the “quick fix” of medications.

While there were resources available on the diet itself, there was little information on how the diet would affect the entire family, including support and practical solutions. This led to Snyder writing her book, discussing such topics as:

  • Kid-friendly Ketogenic diet recipes
  • The emotional changes of eating for the Ketogenic diet, not just the physical changes of the food
  • How the Ketogenic diet affects the entire family, not only the epileptic child
  • Valuable strategies that Dr. Snyder calls the “10 Steps to Success”, some of which include: limiting temptation, making the diet fun, advocating & educating others
  • How to deal with outside forces, such as family, friends, and external situations
  • Practical solutions for how to cope with food limitations over the holidays, such as Easter and HalloweenCreative ideas for other food-related events such as birthday parties.

Arlene and Dr. Snyder push for continued education and changing of attitudes (of both parents and physicians), to break through the barrier of ignorance that is keeping children from experiencing the Ketogenic diet for seizure relief. More and more resources are becoming available, and as a result, the diet is becoming easier to implement than years ago. Arlene urges parents that the benefits of the diet far outweigh the work you have to put in:

“As parents, we need to take the blinders off, and look at the long-range benefits of the diet and don’t sweat the small stuff….To do this for 2 years or 3 years or 5 years, is absolutely nothing compared to long range benefits that we get”. She follows this by simply stating: “We get our kids back. There is no greater gift.”

For more information about Bryce’s journey and success with the Ketogenic diet, please listen to the podcast in its entirety. You can find more information and support by chatting with other epilepsy moms in our epilepsy chat forum.

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About James Martell