Epilepsy: Modified Atkins Diet (MAD)

In addition to controlling our Warrior’s Epilepsy with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) we have also been prescribed the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD). The MAD diet is very similar to the mainstream Ketogenic Diet (Keto) but it is a bit more stringent on following macros than mainstream Keto.

When using MAD as a tool to control Epilepsy, it is common to see daily carb restrictions between 10g to 20gs. The diet can be made to be more stringent by tightening the reigns on total fat consumption and calories. However, it is not uncommon to for the dietitian to try to control it with the least restrictive options and then to restrict the diet further if the Epilepsy cannot be controlled. This diet is also not meant for weight loss but some weight loss is typical.

It is important to start this diet with the help of a dietitian, most epilepsy clinics have a dietitian on staff. Before starting the MAD diet, it is also important to have baseline blood work completed beforehand. Once the bloodwork comes back the dietitian will create a plan for you and you will meet with him or her to go over that plan. Moving forward, for a least the first year, you will have monthly appointments with the dietitian to track your child’s progress and to make any adjustments- bloodwork will also be checked frequently during this time.

Our warrior is 7 months into this diet and it has helped her in so many ways. The most obvious is that she did lose about 10lbs and on her tiny frame, 10lbs is noticeable. However, where we see the biggest difference in her is mental clarity. It started around month 3 and we started to notice she was speaking words much more clearly. Then we started to notice her adding in words she’s never used before. Followed by, sarcasm and whit. Just this last week, we noticed her reading beyond what we know her to be capable of. It is amazing what the brain can do when it isn’t focused on the next seizure.

She does miss certain things. Initially it was the typical “I miss sweets” but as the months went on her need for sweets changed into “I miss carrots.” We do give her some carrots from time to time as a treat. All in all, she loves her diet and she feels it helps her and that has kept her on track and motivated to not cheat on the diet because she understands that her diet is medicine. Food is medicine and that is how it is explained to anyone who asks about her diet.

We felt that it was very important to make her play an active role in her health and diet. She knows the rules of her diet inside and out. She knows how to measure her portions. She knows how to track her macros and she knows how to track her ketone levels on a ketone test strip. Of course, I understand that this is not typical for all children but we felt that it was important for her to be involved.

What we didn’t expect was to unlock a passion in her. She now has plans for after high school- she wants to open a keto food truck and offer keto options to people as one thing she definitely misses is being about to eat out for fun. I am so proud of who she is becoming and I truly attribute these changes to her diet and her current seizure control.

Here are some online resources that we have used but if you have any questions please send me an email and I will do my best to help you or point you in the direction of a resource. Below are some of our commonly used resources, books, and kitchen tools (I do not get anything in exchange for recommending these to you).

1. The Charlie Foundation

2. Diet Doctor

3. Wholesome Yum

4. Instant Pot Vortex Air Fryer (LEGIT GAME CHANGER FOR US)

5. The Ketogenic and Modified Atkins Diets, 6th Edition: Treatments for Epilepsy and Other Disorders Paperback by Eric Kossoff MD (Author), Zahava Turner RD CSP LDN (Author), Sarah Doerrer CPNP (Author), Mackenzie C. Cervenka MD (Author), Bobbie J. Barron RD LDN (Author)

Click here if you would like to join our Facebook group called the Warrior Moms Community!

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