About Our Ketogenic Diet Program

CHKD offers medical nutrition therapy with the ketogenic diet as a non-medication treatment of refractory epilepsy, genetic disorders, and more. Our ketogenic diet team includes a neurologist, registered dietitian, pharmacist, nurse, and social worker. Ask your pediatrician about arranging a consultation with us to discussed the options and benefits of ketogenic diet therapy and if it might be a fit for your child.

Our program requires frequent follow up with our ketogenic diet team as well as ongoing blood work to ensure patients are achieving appropriate levels of ketosis as well as maintaining proper levels of vitamins and minerals. Steady contact with our ketogenic dietitian and neurologist is provided throughout each patient’s ketogenic diet journey.

To ensure the program’s success, it is very important for families to treat ketogenic diet nutrition therapy as a serious medical treatment and to follow the program precisely each day, just as you would when taking a prescribed medication.

What is a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet is a high fat, very low carbohydrate diet which alters the body's metabolism to no longer use carbohydrates as its main fuel source, but instead uses fat to fuel the brain and energy needs of the body. This is a metabolic state called ketosis. Research has shown that the use of a ketogenic diet may reduce seizure activity. There are multiple forms of this diet, including the classic ketogenic diet, modified Atkins diet (MAD), MCT oil diet, and low glycemic index diet. Your doctor and dietitian will work with you to decide which form of the diet is best for your child. This diet can be used in infants, children, and young adults, and it is usually considered as a treatment option after failure to reduce seizure activity after trying two or more anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

What are the foods my child will eat on this diet?

A ketogenic diet strictly limits carbohydrates, therefore many foods such as pasta, breads, potatoes, rice, cereal, desserts, candy, juice, and soda will be allowed only in very limited quantities, or eliminated altogether. In order to obtain ketosis, large quantities of fat must be consumed. Some of the common fat sources used on a ketogenic diet are heavy cream, mayonnaise, butter, oils, and avocado. Foods such as fruits and vegetables are also limited due to their natural carbohydrate content.

Specialized ketogenic formulas or blended ketogenic diet are also available as options for children with G-tube or J-tube. A dietitian can provide more insight to this form of diet. 

What else  should I know about ketogenic diet therapy?

Because there are fewer vitamins and minerals in many high fat foods, these are supplemented for all patients. Multivitamin, calcium, and vitamin D supplements are almost always needed, and others may be required as well. This is a very important part of the diet as the goal is to meet the dietary reference intake (DRI) levels for all vitamins and minerals, ensuring the appropriate growth and overall nutrition of each patient.

Medications may, at times, contain carbohydrate that must be eliminated or minimized to assist in achieving ketosis. Medications in chewable, syrup or elixir form often contain large quantities of carbohydrate. Your ketogenic team, specifically the pharmacist, will provide you with new medication formations that will fit in with the ketogenic diet.

For More Information

Please call our dietitian line at (757) 668-8688 or our neurology team at (757) 668-9920 with any questions.