Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy: A Dietitian’s Passion; A Child’s Future

Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy: A Dietitian’s Passion; A Child’s Future


My name is Robin Blackford and I’m a ketogenic
dietitian at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The ketogenic diet is a high fat low carbohydrate
diet and it is used mainly for the management of intractable seizures, epilepsy. At this time, we have around 175 patients. It might be that they are tired of the medicines
not working or maybe it’s the side effects of the medicines that their children are on
and that’s why they are seeking out the ketogenic diet as an alternative. This is our son Nathan. He’s almost 6 years old. He is a lego master. In March of 2008, that’s was when his first
seizure started. It was nuts, like a huge change for our life
in every single way. He wasn’t able to talk, walk. We were a mess. We tried 3 different kinds of drugs and they
did not work at all. We started reading how this ketogenic diet
was really an effective way to treat it. We were thinking “well, it’s just food. Like, this should be a no brainer. Why not try it?” At first, I was really scared because it was
like you got to get all these utensils, you got have breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I remember when we went to our first meeting
with Robyn, she was like “no, it’s going to be fine”. We spoke with Robyn and she said you can use
Nutricia (KetoCal) and we were like “what is that?”. So, she introduced us to it for the first
time. He’s been, almost close to a year seizure-free
with it. I think it surprised everyone. I think that KetoCal is very convenient for
families who have children on the ketogenic diet because it is an all-in-one product. You know, the KetoCal product already comes
in a ketogenic ratio that you can use. Adding KetoCal to Nathan’s diet has been wonderful,
just because he loves the taste, the texture is amazing. The first time I made him the pancakes, the
house smelled amazing and he loved it. I have never seen this kid happier in his
life. He was so happy eating his pancakes. We make waffles, we made crepes out of it
and he was just, you know every single morning, he was like “I want waffles. I want crepes, I want this and that” and so
he was just loving it. I think that it’s a huge concern at the beginning
of the diet that children aren’t going to be able to have their pizza, so I think it’s
an exciting option when they find that they can still have their pizza on the ketogenic
diet. We just have to include a little bit of KetoCal
and they are able to make a pizza crust with no problem. Now, it’s so much easier than it was at the
beginning. I tell them that I want six cans and they
ship them here fast and easy. I can rely on them for anything. It feels really wonderful. It’s so funny because Nathan saw the truck,
the brown truck outside and he was like “My KetoCal is here!”. So, it was great. Nutricia is a great resource for me as a ketogenic
dietitian to be able to find the right products and to be helpful in a platform for sharing
experiences. Now that we have one of the biggest ketogenic
diet centers in the US, I’ve been asked to be a Keto Ambassador and I couldn’t be happier
to be able to share my knowledge and experience with other dietitians so that we can have
the best care for our patients. The good news is that everyone seems to be
doing quite well now. It’s brought us very close together as a family,
going through these difficult times. You know, in the process of going along in
their journey, you get to walk alongside of them and I find that this is very rewarding. This is why I do this every day. We just kind of thought that for a while there
we were losing him, and he was slipping away from the child that he was and then to see
him come back and be himself and growing and learning and doing great the way he has, it’s
been wonderful. I’ve seen a lot of families that will go to
the ends of the earth for their children and I think that that is what has changed me. It’s changed me as a health provider. It’s changed me as a mother. It makes me want to work harder for them. When you hear them talk about all the new
things that they are able to do as a family, it is very special and it’s an honor to be
able to be their dietitian.

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