A day in the life of the keto diet

10 Dec

I’ve had a number of questions about just how Jade’s diet works on a day-to-day basis, so here it is in a nutshell to satisfy your curiosity!

Basically, Jade’s food is her medicine now (although she is also still on three drugs, too).  Her body is fuelled almost exclusively by fat, which is good.  Burning fat (being in “ketosis”) is what keeps the seizures down.  Since she hardly has any fat on her body, Jade needs to get her food very regularly or her energy crashes.  (Plus, her body would then start burning muscle tissue, which is unhealthy and would also cause her ketones to drop, which would impact seizure control.)  With me so far?

Right now Jade eats her “breakfast” at around 7:30 a.m. (and breakfast is in quotes because it’s in a bottle because she’s generally still in bed then), a snack around 10:00 a.m., lunch at noon, afternoon snack around 3:00 p.m., and supper at 6:00 p.m.

Each of Jade’s meals and snacks is very specifically calculated to maintain her weight and allow for just a little bit of growth.  She gets 272 calories per meal (plus or minus 4 calories, depending on the recipe) and 75 calories per snack.  90% of her calories come from fat, usually in the form of butter, oil, mayonnaise, or whipping cream.  Since the calculations are so precise, we use a spatula at the end of each meal to ensure Jade gets every last drop of cream or butter or whatever.

breadHere’s the meal Jade had for lunch today.  This is low-carb almond bread with butter and cheese, served with whipping cream mixed with oil and a little water as a drink.  (She also gets “keto-koolaid” as a drink, but the cream and oil make up the balance of the fat she had “budgeted” for this meal.)  I was very happy to get a bread recipe because she missed bread a lot. The main ingredients are almond flour (which is nothing but blanched ground-up almonds), eggs, and cream cheese.  It’s extremely crumbly when done, and even with such low carbs, Jade can still have only a sliver the size of my finger.  Once baked, my mom spent a couple of hours painstakingly packaging small pieces into “Press ‘n’ Seal” packages for the freezer.  I created this bread and cheese recipe because she kept asking for cheese.  As you can see, the recipe is pretty heavy on butter!

I have access to an online tool called the “Ketocalculator”, which I use to create new recipes for Jade.  It gives me the guidelines set out by our dietician and automatically calculates calories and nutritional values for me.  We have to stick to specific brands for many products since nutritional values vary by brand.

Here’s what one of Jade’s favourite meals looks like as a recipe:

Tuna and Fruit

  • 34 g Fruit 6 (usually raspberries)
  • 16.5 g Tuna (Cloverleaf, chunk light)
  • 5.5 g Butter
  • 28 g Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise

And here’s what it looks like made up.  (We’re out of raspberries at the moment, so I substituted applesauce, but that is a “Fruit 9”, so she gets 23.5 g of that instead of 34 g.)


As for finding ingredients, we’ve been pretty okay with that.  We can’t find 4% cottage cheese or any kind of creme fraiche, unfortunately, and we’ve had some adventures with whipping cream.  (Did you know that whipping cream comes in three different levels of fat?  There’s 33%, 35%, and 36% and we’d have to recalculate any meals using whipping cream if we were to substitute a different fat level cream.)  I had to get Jenny to send me the Bickford flavours so that we can now put “maple syrup” (maple-flavoured butter) on her pancakes (made almost entirely of whipped egg whites).  And Janet helped us locate keto-friendly Kool-Aid and coconut oil in Whitehorse.  Besides that, shopping for diet ingredients hasn’t been too bad.

We are kind of dependent on power since the scale works only when plugged in.  The last couple of power outages made us kind of nervous.  Fortunately, we found these cute and cheap scales at Lee Valley; they run on batteries and while they may not be as accurate as our big scale (though we can’t tell a difference, to be honest) they will do in a pinch!

The cooking hasn’t been the hardest part of the diet.  The hardest part has been psychological and emotional.  And a bit logistical, too.  But I’ll save all that for another day…


10 Responses to “A day in the life of the keto diet”

  1. taibhsearachd December 11, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    Does Jade eat her meals at the same time you and Michael do? If so, has it been difficult helping her understand she can’t eat what you’re eating? I’m afraid that if I had the rather bland looking stuff Jade must eat put in front of me while everyone else had very colourfully appealing food, I would make a big fuss at having to eat mine. How do you deal with that? (or maybe I’m just a much bigger wuss than Jade is!)

  2. Jenny December 11, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    I think the cooking has been the easiest part for us. One day I felt like I feel more hopeless for some reason on the diet. Maybe just because results on the diet are more gradual where as the drugs you may see a difference almost right away but that can just be the “honeymoon” period. Although, since Naomi’s off all but Keppra she’s so much more animated, giggly and happy. Also just the tweaking and such on the diet. Jade’s really on low calorie! Naomi started at 950 but is up to 1050 now, she was running out of fat.

  3. Captain Momma December 11, 2008 at 1:59 pm #

    Wow, that’s a lot of logistics, especially when out and about doing things outside, etc. Sounds like you are doing a great job and yay for the press and seal stuff so you can package it all separate!

    She’s doing great and you are blessed to not have such a picky eater. Even I looked at the amounts and went whoa! That’s a lot of whipping cream and mayo!!!

    Does she get to drink much water? I am guessing not. Is that hard for her too?

    Thanks for the update, its nice to be able to see what you have to do each and every day.



  4. shannon maccuaig December 11, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    i am beyond impressed. and yet, i knew that if anyone could do this diet for their child, it would be you! and you’re even coming up with your own recipes!!! i’m so very proud of you all! 🙂

  5. natalie December 13, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Are you familiar with Liberty products (Manufactured in Quebec)? They produce creme fraiche http://www.liberte.qc.ca/en/page.ch2?uid=OtherProducts
    Perhaps you could have that ordered through a local grocer?

  6. Adventures In Babywearing December 14, 2008 at 10:18 pm #

    Oh this made my stomach drop a bit, thinking back to doing the diet. It’s been over 2 years now since I had to use that scale… I am so thankful for what it has done for my Noah. I do not regret one moment of it all!


  7. Acaiberrydiet December 29, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    I love the information you have here. It will deff help me out with the current issues i’m having.

  8. Elizabeth, The Mommy...etc February 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    I found your site thru McMommy…I first learned for the ketogenic diet thru a movie on T.V. and was so impressed with it’s development and how well it improved the status of seizures. I pray that it helps your Jade as well. You have to be such a strong mom to deal with this and follow it to the letter of the law! I commend you!

  9. Rachael February 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    I’m here through McMommy too, came to check you out and to vote for your husband’s video!

    This is really fascinating, what a difficult thing to take on, but so worth it if it gets rid of the seizures. I just read more about it on Wikipedia, it’s amazing how we can treat things with our diet!


  1. Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills » Blog Archive » Aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, pancytopenia… - December 21, 2008

    […] are other ways to control epilepsy; check out Fawn’s blog for a description of the ketogenic diet. I don’t have the willpower to do this, but basically it is a very strict diet based on […]

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