How The Ketogenic Diet Works
The Ketogenic Diet forces the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, which has shown to result in a reduction of seizure activity or complete remission of seizure activity in some cases.
This diet is not, however, effective for every person living with epilepsy. So how do you know if the ketogenic diet is right for you? Let’s dive into the pros, cons and science behind this diet.
The effects of the ketogenic diet are not well understood. It is known that the high-fat, low-sugar combination reduces excitability in the brain, making it less likely for someone living with epilepsy to have seizures.
However, due to the wide variety of seizure types that people living with epilepsy experience, this is not always the case.
Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
In my opinion- and the opinion of other voices of authority on the Keto Diet-there are very few pros to the Ketogenic Diet. It should always be a last resort for people living with epilepsy.
It is most commonly used as a treatment method if your epilepsy is resistant to anti-epileptic drugs. The major “pro” here is that you may see a major decrease in seizure activity or even remission.
The cons are simple. If this does work for you, you have to stay on what is a highly restrictive diet in order to maintain your new state of having fewer to no seizures.
You will also likely continue to be on anti-epileptic drugs while on the diet. Your life will look like being closely monitored, weighing your food, and never having dessert.
A lot of people will say that this is worth it, and for them, it may be. All I will offer is that it was not for me.
I was having fewer seizures, and I was miserable. I was sneaking extra dark chocolate and trying to avoid measuring my ketones every day. No one will tell you this, but after years and years of having seizures, having fewer doesn’t always cut it. Especially at the cost the Ketogenic Diet asks you to pay.
Factors to Take Into Consideration
If you or a loved one is considering the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy, it is important to speak with a medical professional to get more information. They will be able to help you understand how the diet works and if it is likely to be effective for your particular case.
Here are some factors to consider after obtaining more information from your doctor:
- How willing and able you are to commit to a restrictive diet
- The potential side effects of the diet
- How much support you have from family and friends
- Your overall quality of life
Making the decision to try the ketogenic diet should not be taken lightly. It is important that you have all the information you need before making a decision.
If you’re a parent of someone who may be considering the Ketogenic Diet, try and make this a team decision. It will be a team effort.
Ketogenic Diet Recap
- The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy.
- The combination of high fat and low carbohydrates/sugar seem to be what make the Ketogenic Diet so effective
- The Ketogenic Diet is not effective for every person living with epilepsy.
- This should be a last resort treatment
- Speak with your doctor, support system and a dietician(at minimum) before going on the Ketogenic Diet
Lastly, although my own experience with the Ketogenic Diet was not positive and I would never ever recommend it as solely a diet- I’m not a big believer in diets- I do understand and support the need to try anything in an effort to stop seizures.
I know what it’s like to be desperate for an answer. There are lots of support networks and online resources for people interested in trying the Ketogenic Diet for epilepsy.
Good luck out there, epilepsy warriors! Subscribe for more updates and hit the “Contact Us” button to get in touch.