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Controlling epilepsy with food

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A balanced diet from different food groups helps the body and brain to function, helping us to stay healthy. This may help reduce the risk of seizures for some people with epilepsy. One of such diets is the ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, low protein and low carbohydrate diet used as a treatment for epilepsy. Children who have severe forms of epilepsy that have not responded well to various drug treatments can try this diet, which is very high in fat, in the form of fatty foods such as butter, margarine, oil and cream. It contains enough protein for thes child to grow and develop normally and very small amounts of carbohydrate foods.

Foods to eat

  • Carbohydrates provide energy and are found in foods such as potatoes, wholegrain bread, pasta, noodles, rice, oats and oat-based cereals, peas, nuts, sweet potatoes and yams. Wholegrain versions of these foods provide extra vitamins, minerals and fibre (which helps to remove waste from the body).
  • Fats include oils, oily fish, bacon, eggs, mayonnaise, butter, nuts and seeds. Fats help us to absorb nutrients, including some important vitamins, and keep us warm. They help keep our cells healthy and give us energy.
  • Proteins build and support our muscles, hormones, enzymes, red blood cells and immune system. Protein is in dairy foods such as milk and cheese, and also in meat, fish, tofu, beans, and eggs.
  • Vegetables and fruit of various colours provide vitamins and minerals. They also protect us from infection, damage to our cells and diseases.
  • Eat more of cooked, steamed, baked, grilled, poached or boiled foods. Avoid fried foods.
  • Drink water because it helps us to function and concentrate, and reduces the risk of seizures triggered by dehydration.
  • Non-starchy vegetables such as greens, broccoli, onions and tomatoes; apples, pears and most berries.

Foods to avoid: The following foods contain large amounts of sugar and thus should be completely avoided: biscuits, iced, chocolate coated and creams; cakes, sweet breads and buns, glace (candied) fruit; chewing gum, including sugarless; chocolate, diet chocolate, lollies.

Source: epilepsyqueensland.com.au; epilepsysociety.org.uk

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