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The Ketogenic Diet: Q&A with Our Experts

November 15, 2021

Lurie Children’s Pediatric Epilepsy Center has been prescribing and implementing the ketogenic for more than 20 years, growing from just a handful of patients, to over 350 patients currently on ketogenic therapies. This makes Lurie Children’s Ketogenic Diet Program one of the largest in the world.

All of the physicians, nurses, dietitians and staff within the Pediatric Epilepsy Center are

Lurie Children's Ketogenic Diet specialists Wesley Lowman, RDN, LDN; and Robyn Blackford, RDN, LDN

well-versed in Ketogenic Diet therapies, providing a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, targeted approach to its use.

Learn more about this diet and how it is helps some patients with epilepsy by reading the Q&A below with Lurie Children’s own registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionists Robyn Blackford, RDN, LDN and Wesley Lowman, RDN, LDN. They, along with Breanne Fisher, MSN, APN, CPNP-PC; and Josephine DeLira, LCSW, lead Lurie Children’s renowned Ketogenic Diet Program.

What does this diet entail and who uses it?

The medical Ketogenic Diet is a diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrate and sugar. Following this diet will put the body into a state of ketosis where it’s burning fat for energy instead of carbs. It is used for those that have intractable epilepsy, which means that seizure medications have not been helpful for them in their course of treatment.

How does the diet help children with some types of seizures?

The Ketogenic Diet mimics a state of fasting which seems to have an anti-seizure effect on the brain. There are several health benefits of inducing ketosis, but unfortunately, the exact mechanism of action for seizure control is still unknown.

How do Lurie Children’s dietitians help families maintain it?

The dietitians at Lurie Children’s offer ongoing guidance and support to families whose children are on a Ketogenic Diet. They work with families during the initial discussion, initiation and maintenance of the diet. They prepare custom meal plans and adapt them as the child grows, to meet their ever-changing needs, from infancy to adulthood.

Is the ketogenic diet healthy and safe for people without seizures or epilepsy syndromes?

The version of the Ketogenic Diet that is used as a treatment for epilepsy may look very different from other versions of the diet for other uses. Any medical diet should be implemented under the supervision and care of an experienced medical team, with the expertise of a Registered Dietitian.

Why do you think the diet has made its way in to the mainstream as a weight loss approach?

It can be extremely beneficial to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet for general health reasons. Following a diet low in sugar will reduce inflammation and stress in the body. When someone stops eating large amounts of sugar and replacing it with whole foods full of healthy proteins and fats, it is natural to lose weight. For the people on the medical Ketogenic Diet for treatment of seizures, especially children, the medical team ensures that they consume enough fat and calories to promote growth and avoid weight loss than can be associated with ketosis.

Learn more about the Ketogenic Diet Program

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