Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the brain in which the electrical system misfires and triggers a convulsion, more commonly called a seizure. An epileptic can have several different kinds of seizures. Some are cause by areas of the brain that are damaged whereas others have no known cause. Seizures may be completely incapacitating, or they may be mild enough to provide limited interference with the activities of daily living.
Some seizures, such as Grand Mal seizures, include a loss of consciousness, while other types, such as Temporal Lobe seizures result in memory issues or small tics, like staring for a few minutes. In addition to anticonvulsant medications, surgery is occasionally performed in an effort to get them under control.
Unfortunately, the anticonvulsant medications can cause side effects that leave patients feeling groggy and "drugged." While diet can't fix this completely, how you eat can have a positive or negative effect on your overall health and well-being. Here are diet tips to help you manage your epilepsy.
Follow a Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is a diet that is very high in fats and very low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the fibers, sugars, and starches that are in grains, vegetables, and fruits. When the body has dramatically reduced carbohydrates to depend on for your energy, it turns to fats for its energy source.
Neurologists and dietitians know that this diet is difficult to follow, especially for adults with established eating patterns. Children may have an easier time adjusting. The goal is to do the best you can sticking to the approved foods and avoid the high carbohydrate foods, but if you occasionally have a misstep, just get back on it again.
What Foods Should Be Avoided on a Ketogenic Diet?
- Grains and starchy foods like cereals, bread, rice, and pasta.
- All fruits, except for the occasional small portion of berries.
- All legumes and beans.
- All root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
- Any low-fat or "diet" products.
- All sugary foods, such as soda, fruit drinks and juices, cakes, pies, and pastries.
Which Foods Are Allowed on a Ketogenic Diet?
- Meats such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and venison are all allowed.
- Fish, especially fatty fish rich in Omega-3, like salmon, trout, mackerel, and albacore tuna.
- Eggs, butter, and cream
- Unprocessed cheeses, like fresh mozzarella, cheddar, blue, and goat
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil
- Low carbohydrate vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, and peppers.
To learn more about epilepsy and how to properly treat it, neurologists at clinics like Billings Clinic can help.