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Low Glycemic Index Diet for Epilepsy
The low glycemic index diet is a variation of a low-carbohydrate diet used to treat children who have epilepsy. The treatment was developed in 2002 as a less restrictive alternative to the ketogenic diet.
At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, specialists in pediatric neurology and nutrition work closely with families to evaluate the diet’s success in treating seizures and to ensure that children are meeting their nutritional requirements for health and growth.
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Low Glycemic Diet Definition
The low glycemic index diet measures food by its glycemic index (how much the food raises a child’s blood glucose level). It emphasizes foods with a minimal effect on blood glucose levels, such as meats, cheeses and vegetables.
Children following the diet also may consume certain carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Carbohydrates should be eaten with fats and proteins—for example, a piece of 100-percent wheat toast with peanut butter—to further lower the glycemic index.
Candidates for the Low Glycemic Index Diet
We might consider the low glycemic index diet for children who have only limited success with antiepileptic drugs. We also might move children who have reduced their seizures by following the ketogenic diet for two to three years to the less-restrictive low glycemic index diet.
Starting the Low Glycemic Index Diet
Before recommending the low glycemic index diet, we conduct a comprehensive evaluation. (Learn more on our epilepsy and seizures page.) If a patient is a good fit for the diet, we’ll provide a consultation with a pediatric neurologist and pediatric dietitian to ensure families fully understand the diet and its requirements.
Follow-up visits typically occur every six to 12 months to ensure that children are maintaining nutritional balance and seizure control.
Benefits of the Low Glycemic Index Diet
Patients who achieve good seizure control on the low glycemic index diet will experience greater flexibility and convenience than those following the ketogenic diet. Benefits include:
- Flexibility: The low glycemic index diet includes a wider variety of foods than the ketogenic diet does, and food consumption is based on portion sizes without the need for strict measurement.
- Convenience: Families can easily incorporate the low glycemic index diet into their mealtime routines.
- Lifelong value: The low glycemic diet is appropriate for lifelong nutrition.
Gillette’s low glycemic index diet team is highly trained to initiate the diet and monitor its effects. A patient’s team most often includes specialists in the following disciplines:
For more information about Gillette’s comprehensive services, search Conditions and Care.
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