Controlling my child's epilepsy with a ketogenic diet

Things have changed dramatically for 12-year-old Adam Lees, who began a modified ketogenic diet plan at the suggestion of his consultant.

Before Adam Lees began a ketogenic diet to control his epilepsy, he was having to go to hospital about every two weeks because he was suffering long, cluster seizures.

His illness made life difficult for his older brother and sister, as well as his parents. It meant they were unable to go on holiday or enjoy days out.

But things changed dramatically for Adam, who is 12 years old and lives in Nuneaton, when he began the modified ketogenic diet plan at the suggestion of his consultant.

They had tried many different kinds of medication to control his epilepsy, all of which worked for a short period of time.

His mum, Kim, says not only has Adam lost a stone in weight, he now has more energy and enjoys PE at school and long walks.

They have also enjoyed holidays and day trips as a family because the number and severity of seizures that Adam suffers have reduced considerably.

"He probably has about two or three a week and they last for about 15 seconds, which we can cope with ourselves," explains Kim, adding that Adam has had to go to hospital just twice since he began his diet because of seizures brought on by other illnesses.

The modified ketogenic diet is different from other plans because only carbohydrates are weighed and counted.

Adam is allowed 34 grams of carbohydrates a day, which means he can still enjoy a spoonful of mashed potato with his Sunday roast.

He eats as much fat as he wants – lots of oil, butter, cream and cheese – and has plenty of protein (meat, milk and eggs) and vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus.

Because some fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, peas, sweetcorn, bananas, apples and parsnips contain more carbohydrates, Adam tends not to eat them.

Kim admits the diet was difficult to get used to at first.

"It was a nightmare because I had to put huge amounts of fat into everything – oil and butter – it went against everything you believe in as a parent," she laughs.

"The amount of oil did make him sick, but he got used to it and now puts about one-fifth of a pack of butter on his vegetables every day."

She also struggled to find recipes that Adam liked and only used KetoCal formula to make milkshakes.

"The number of meals Adam ate was also very restricted at first because I didn't know what I should cook or how I should cook it, so he was eating the same thing every day, which was very boring for him."

But after going on a cookery course for the Modified Ketogenic Diet, Kim increased her repertoire to include pizza, quiche, shepherd's pie, puddings, ice cream and ice lollies.

"Adam likes to have the same meals as us, so when we are having pizza, he can have one as well, which is great," says Kim. “Since I went on the cookery course I haven't looked back; it’s much better.”

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