Our 14-year-old son has juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and despite trying different medications, we were not having great seizure control, especially during growth spurts. At the beginning of the year, his neurologist suggested putting him on a ketogenic diet. As a functional nutritionist, I freaked out about how restrictive 4:1 keto is and how I was going to keep a growing 14-year-old boy on plan. If you have ever raised teenage boys, you understand where I am coming from! (Mind you he was 5’11” and 220 lbs at that time.)
After hours of research, and looking at our son’s individual needs, it seemed that having better glycemic control was imperative but that we did not necessarily have to be full keto. Instead, we opted for a low carb plan. As a family, we decided to be “all in”. We were all going to make it our lifestyle rather than trying to juggle two meals and have things in the house that weren’t on plan for him.
The first thing we did was go through our pantry and get rid of all the food that was not on plan. The unopened stuff all got donated to Coast Guard families that weren’t getting paid at the time because of the government shutdown. The opened stuff got used up over the next few weeks. During our transition phase, we tried several different zero glycemic sweeteners. We quickly discovered that we could not handle large amounts of sugar alcohols and that the brand we like best for baking was not the same one we like in our drinks.
I am also thankful to have found Trim Healthy Mama even though they do not claim to be low carb and are not keto. I DO NOT GET PAID TO ENDORSE THEM-I just think they rock! While having protein as the backbone of every meal is a must, they are all about having healthy, slow carbs and healthy fats, but not in the same meal. Their amazing cookbook and Trim Healthy Table book are loaded with easy, yummy, family friendly recipes. Plus, their Facebook group have been pivotal to our success. It is such an informative, safe space to ask questions and get yummy recipes. Their “s” recipes are our main go-to’s (and are keto friendly) but even their “e” and “fp” are not detrimental to our low carb life. They allow us to have treats without falling off the wagon.
As I write this, we are now 3 months in and have had time to learn things. We are also 99% keto. Not that we started out to be, but we just gradually shifted that way. It is shocking to us how much better we all feel now. Seizure control is better than it has ever been. We have all dropped weight, but that was not and is still not our main focus. The biggest change has been our 14-year-old. Remember when I said he started out at 220 lbs? He is now down to 207 lbs. and has not had a tonic clonic or noticed absence seizure since January 19th (however, without an EEG, we have no clue what his brain activity is like)! Even the myoclonics rarely happen now. He is motivated to stay on plan because he feels so much better and has been virtually seizure free since so it is way easier than any of us thought it would be.
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Keto does require meal planning and thinking ahead for when we travel but after doing it for a while, you get more comfortable with making food choices, especially at restaurants. We do clean keto since we have always eaten a predominately made from scratch, organic diet with grass fed, grass finished meat, unhomogenized heavy whipping cream, pastured eggs, fresh veggies, and some berries. Basically, we just had to cut out sugar and WAY back on carbs.
We use the Carb Manager app to keep track of our macros MOST of the time. Although we are good on those, I always worried about our micronutrients (even before keto) and while we eat pretty healthy and a variety of food, I am fully aware that our food supply is not what it used to be and that we need to supplement. For us, the dōTERRA® Lifelong Vitality pack was a must. In fact, dōTERRA® has been a large part of our lives since 2012 but plays an even bigger role now. There are so many products that support our new keto lifestyle, that I have decided to make a whole blog post about it! Check it out: Our Keto Life, dōTERRA® style!
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