What to Expect with a Ketogenic Diet
Starting a Ketogenic Diet
Your child will begin the ketogenic diet at the hospital, where blood sugar levels, vital signs and ketones can be closely monitored. We also perform routine baseline tests, such as:
- Renal ultrasound.
- Other exams as needed.
We use a ratio to describe the ketogenic diet’s macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate and protein) requirements. For most children, the ratio falls between 3:1 and 4:1. The ratio shows that on a ketogenic diet meal plan, your child should take in three to four times as many calories from fat as from protein and carbohydrates.
Life on a Ketogenic Diet
After your child starts the diet, follow-up visits typically happen every three months.
In addition to following the diet’s nutrition requirements and eating approved ketogenic diet foods, you or your child must monitor the ingredients in medicines and nonprescription products (such as vitamins and dietary supplements). Other factors that can affect the diet include:
- Intravenous fluids that contain dextroses.
- Tooth swabs, syrups or suspensions.
- Toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen and other topical lotions.
At Gillette, we take all these items into consideration along with carbohydrates when planning your child’s diet.
Ketogenic Diet Side Effects
Side effects of the ketogenic diet can include:
- Low blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia).
- Poor or delayed growth.
- Renal stones.
To avoid some side effects, children on the ketogenic diet must take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by their care team.
Going off a Ketogenic Diet
Children usually go off the ketogenic diet after two or three years of successful seizure control. The process happens gradually over six months. In rare cases, children must continue the diet or follow a modified version to maintain seizure control for more than two or three years.