Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
Rhode Island Hospital

Dietary Approaches

A dietary approach to controlling epilepsy is a treatment choice when two or more medications in combination have failed to control seizures, and when surgery is not feasible.

Dietary approach to controlling epilepsy

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Call the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at 401-444-7608.

Ketogenic Diet

We offer management of the ketogenic diet as a treatment to control epilepsy in children. The ketogenic diet is very high in fats with some protein and virtually no carbohydrates, which forces the brain to utilize fat for energy instead of glucose. With help from our nutrition staff, families on the diet must weigh foods and make sure that the balance between fat and other nutritional elements is maintained. The ketogenic diet eliminates seizures in approximately one-third of the children who try it, and reduces the frequency of seizures in another third.

While the ketogenic diet has shown to work well for pediatric patients with epilepsy, the results are not as well proven in adult patients. Adult patients may instead be recommended the low glycemic index treatment (LGIT) or the modified Atkins diet.

Low Glycemic Index Treatment

The low glycemic index treatment (LGIT) uses food quantities that are not weighed out, but are based on portion sizes, allowing patients more flexibility. LGIT allows for more carbohydrates in the patient's diet, but focuses on carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index, which means that they take longer to metabolize. The percentage of calories from fat is approximately 60 percent, compared to 90 percent on the ketogenic diet.

Modified Atkins Diet

The modified Atkins diet has no restrictions on fluids, calories or proteins. Carbohydrates are monitored, but foods are not weighed and measured. Studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of patients on this diet had a 50 percent reduction in seizures after six months.

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