HOW TO START THE MODIFIED ATKINS DIET
After 100’s of seizures every day, while heavily medicated, our daughter is now seizure and medication free thanks to the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD). If we had to do it all over again, here is how we would approach the diet. Please understand, this is one family’s opinion, not necessarily the only or best way to treat epilepsy. Every person is different. This information is presented to give you a starting place.
Seek Medical Assistance: It is critical to have support from your doctor. Tests may be required before starting the diet to establish a baseline in order to measure changes in cholesterol, uric acid, medication levels or other items of concern. A doctor can also assist with complications that may arise and will have a network of professionals and resources to draw upon quickly should a medical emergency occur.
Get Educated: Whether you have seizures, or are the primary caregiver for someone with seizures, it is important to understand you are your best advocate for healing. No one knows your situation better than you. Knowledge in your hands will be more powerful than anything else. This website is a great place to start. Read the article section, look for the recommended books and learn all you can about the specific diagnosis you have, along with the medications you are currently using.
Enlist Support: Changing your diet is more difficult than taking medication on schedule. Hundreds of people are doing this successfully, but it is much easier if you have the support and cooperation of your family members. Schools and friends need to be alerted. One well-meaning friend with a piece of candy or a soda could undo weeks of hard work. Joining some of the online forums for both MAD and the Ketogenic Diet can also be a big help, you can also join our Facebook Group, Atkins for Seizures.
Start a Seizure Journal: A significant part of our journey was learning what triggered seizures in our daughter and taking steps to remove those triggers. Journaling can help tremendously. Does a seizure come after a certain type of food? Are there more seizures on laundry and/or cleaning day (chemicals)? Are they more common in the morning before breakfast (possibly related to blood sugar levels)? Browse the list of seizure triggers on this website to get an idea of what you might be looking to journal and what factors you may be able to eliminate. This journal would be a good place to track or graph the frequency of seizures, number of daily carbs consumed and the ketosis level (we checked twice a week and also when there was a change in seizures).
Lifestyle & Environment Changes: Stress makes everything worse. We took a hard look at everything our daughter was exposed to and made changes to eliminate possible allergens, toxins and stressors in her life. This seemed to raise her “threshold” and gave her body more time to heal. Here are some of the areas we addressed:
- Blackout shades for her bedroom window – sleep is critical!
- Switched all cleaning and laundry products to non-toxic
- Changed personal care products (lotions, shampoo, sunscreen, etc.)
- Introduced some regular massage & chiropractic care
- Enforced a new house rule of no shouting – “inside voices” only
- Eliminated much of the junk food in the house for the rest of the family.
Get Together Recipes & A Shopping List: There are lots of recipe sources. Check this website, subscribe to our free newsletter and search the Facebook Group. Having a dozen printed out and ready to try at the beginning gives you a starting place to learn about counting carbs, cooking low carb, and figuring out what foods are tolerated. Why not try a few experimental meals before switching completely to the diet?
Set a Start Date & Stay Positive: While the list above may at first seem long, it really is not that much work. Make an appointment with the doctor, and while you are waiting for that day to roll around, you can get all the other things in place. This initial “preparation” phase, along with the first couple weeks of learning to shop and cook, are the most time consuming. Very soon you will settle into a shopping and cooking routine, and will discover new favorite meals – with the added benefit of (hopefully) getting better!
Our daughter was on the diet for two years. The following two years we were careful to avoid a couple of the biggest food triggers we had identified during the course of the diet (for her it was processed sugar, a certain type of noodle we ate regularly and too much bread). She has now completely healed and can eat and drink whatever she wishes.
I hope you have the same results!