Diets do not replace medications, which continue as per your neurologist or paediatric neurologist’s instruction. In addition to dietary changes, ongoing monitoring and testing form part of these diets. As does regular contact with the overseeing dietician.
The ketogenic diet is a medically supervised diet that may be a suitable treatment option for some children and adolescents with epilepsy who do not respond to medication. It is discussed in more detail in our children and epilepsy section.
Modified Atkins Diet
The Modified Atkins diet (MAD) is a mix between the classic Ketogenic Diet and the Atkins diet. The MAD is a high-fat diet where fat and protein is allowed, and carbohydrate intake is limited.
There are no fluid or calorie restrictions with MAD. Fats are strongly encouraged and most patients consume lots of dairy and oils, such as heavy cream and butter. There are no restrictions on proteins so someone on the MAD can consume lots of protein-rich foods, such as meat, eggs and fish. Foods are not weighed or measured, but carbohydrate counts are monitored by the patient.
This diet is started outside of the hospital, but does still require medical supervision. Some patients lose weight on the diet, but some also experience increases in cholesterol. Adjusting to this diet does require some support and training from specialist dieticians. It is up to the person (and possibly their support network) to monitor daily ketosis levels, often through urine strip checking. Evaluating the impact on seizure activity is also up to the person who is required to keep a seizure diary to assess whether seizure activity has changed while on the MAD.
Not all people will be eligible candidates for the MAD, but if it interests you speak to your neurologist to discuss whether you may be suitable.