Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet: Blog Roundup

back to school busWe don’t have to tell you that managing your child’s ketogenic diet can be tricky. As the kids head back to school, you may find that it gets a little more complicated. We’ve compiled a list of blog posts to help support you. From tips for informing the school about the diet to ideas for packing a keto-friendly lunchbox, we hope that this blog collection will help make your keto kid’s transition back to school as smooth as possible.

 

 

Back to School: Tips for Packing Keto Lunches

We are excited to welcome back Dana Haddox-Wright, keto mom and guest blogger extraordinaire! Dana lives in Connecticut with her husband and two adorable daughters. Her 6-year-old daughter has Dravet Syndrome and has been on the ketogenic diet for over two years. As you prepare for your children to head back to school, we hope you will find Dana’s tips for packing a keto lunch box useful and timely. Be sure to check out Dana’s previous blog posts: “Tips for Making the Ketogenic Diet Fun” and “Ten Things That Only Keto Parents Would Understand“. 

page-break-01
Preparing food for children can be a daunting task, particularly when they are on the ketogenic diet. Kids on the diet are not always predictable. What they absolutely love one day, they may not want to touch the next. And the hours spent in the kitchen might drive any parent crazy (or to drinking, whichever comes first). The struggle is real for us. Just when we narrow down several “favorites” the kids love, we are then confronted with another challenge….SCHOOL.

Work Around School Policies

School policies on food vary by district, but most do not allow tree nut products. No macadamia nut, almond, or peanut-based foods are allowed much of the time. This significantly limits our fat options. If your child’s school cafeteria does allow nuts at designated tables, then you are ok. Other parents will need to get creative. Coconut is a useful substitute, but you may need to convince your school administrators that it is ok. When my daughter’s school told me that I would not be able to send in coconut based foods, I was confused. I contacted the keto dietician, and she told me that though coconuts grow on trees they are technically not “tree nuts,” and it is very rare for individuals with tree nut allergies to have a reaction to them. She wrote the school a letter that was shared with the school nurses, and problem solved. Once you know what you CANNOT send to school, you can experiment with alternate recipes. Try using coconut flour or flaxmeal in exchange for nut flours.

Keep It Simple

Another helpful hint is to keep things simple. You can make delicious meals that do not require a lot of components or ingredients. A few of my daughter’s favorites that are not messy or complex include the bake and freeze pizzas (using flaxmeal instead of macadamia nuts), cheesecake, hotdogs with “awesome sauce” (low sugar ketchup and mayonnaise with cut up cooked hot dog mixed in) and a side of cream (made into whipped cream). Last, but not least, a nice water bottle with a keto-safe flavoring and some liquid stevia is a great alternative to the juice boxes that kids often have.

Remember the Social Aspect 

Lunch period is time that kids socialize. Something to remember is that kids pay attention to what their peers pack in their lunches. Knowing this, I try to make my daughter’s lunches tasty and fun while meeting all the keto requirements. You may also want use the school lunch calendar as a guide. Attempt to mimic what the school cafeteria will be serving.

Listen to Your Child

Take time to listen to your children. If they say they want carrots or apple, attempt to work them into new recipes (assuming you have time in your busy schedule). In the end, it is all about making things easier while keeping our little ones safe.

Put On Your Advertising Hat

As the head keto-chef in my house, I try to prepare things that even I would want to eat. Think like an advertiser. Market to your child, and everyone wins. Find keto-friendly food coloring for cookies or cakes, or even for their water to add to visual appeal. On a diet that is so restrictive, there are ways to turn limits into opportunities.

Know That It’s All Worth It

Know that the time you spend being a keto mad scientist, is time well spent. Your kids, whether they can verbalize it or not, will appreciate your effort. They will know that you put your love for them into everything including their school meals.

-Dana

Tips for Managing Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet Over the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us! Hanukkah starts today, Christmas is just over a week away, and Kwanzaa starts the following day! This time of year tends to be very food-focused, which can make it challenging for parents of children on restrictive diets. For today’s blog post, Robyn Blackford, a ketogenic dietitian from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, helped us to come up with some tips for managing the holidays with a child on the ketogenic diet.

Plan Ahead for Meals & Treats

  • Talk to your child’s dietitian for any recipes that you may need well before the time you need them.
  • Make the recipes in advance to ensure that they taste good and travel well.
  • For holiday meals, if possible, find out what will be served ahead of time so that you can find keto-variations to match what everyone else will be eating.
  • Make a few batches of keto treats to have handy over the holidays so that you can provide them for your child at school parties, family get-togethers, etc. when other kids are enjoying treats.

Prepare for Holiday Meals & Get-Togethers

Preparing your child:

  • It’s important to prepare your child for holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties. Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and practice saying “No, thank you” if offered any foods other than the foods that you bring.
  • For holiday meals, some kids may enjoy a smaller, kid-friendly, holiday-themed dinner plate. Smaller, sectioned plates can be helpful for making keto meals more appealing to children and also make it less obvious that their meal is smaller in size than a typical meal. On the other hand, some kids may prefer to have the same dinner plate as everyone else so that they don’t feel different. Talk with your child ahead of time to find out which option he or she prefers. If you go with the small, child-friendly plate, you might also bring some for all of the children attending to enjoy!

Preparing friends & family:

  • Let family members and friends know ahead of time about your child’s special diet so that they know not to offer foods other than the food that you bring for your child. By letting everyone know ahead of time, you can avoid having the conversation in front of your child, which might make your child feel self-conscious.

Preparing your child’s school:

  • If there will be a holiday party at your child’s school and food will be provided, remind your child’s teacher(s) that your child cannot have any food except for the food that you send. If there will be treats provided, send a special keto treat for your child so that he or she doesn’t feel left out. You might also send along non-food, holiday-themed treats like stickers, pencils, etc. for all of the children to enjoy.

Embrace Non-food Variations of Favorite Holiday Traditions

A lot of holiday traditions involve foods that are not allowed on the ketogenic diet, but you can still enjoy them by taking a new, non-food spin on favorite traditions.gingerbread house

  • If your family enjoys making gingerbread houses, you can make a non-food gingerbread house this year using a cardboard box, paper, cotton balls, jewels, glitter, puff balls, stickers, etc. Here’s one that we made as an example. They are just as much fun to make and they last longer!
  • Rather than filling your child’s Christmas stocking with candy, fill it with non-food treats like small toys, stickers, markers, fun socks, etc.

We hope that you find these tips helpful for managing your child’s ketogenic diet over the holidays.  With a little creativity, improvising and planning ahead, you can make your child’s holiday as normal as possible. Try to remember that although food seems like such an important part of holiday celebrations, most of our best childhood memories of the holidays have nothing to do with the food.

Happy Chrismakwanzika everyone!

-Robyn & Mallory

Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet: Part 2

Continuing with our “Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet” blog series (see Part 1), today we’ll provide some tips and meal ideas to help you pack a school lunch that your keto kid will love.

Packing the Ketogenic Lunchbox

Many parents face a daily cLunch bagshallenge when it comes to packing their child’s lunch box. It can be difficult to come up with lunch ideas that are transportable, nutritious, and that your child will actually eat. When your child is on a ketogenic diet for epilepsy, this task is even more daunting. Not only does the meal need to be carefully weighed and prepared, but oftentimes your child must eat the entire meal to maintain the ketogenic ratio. This is challenging enough at home but it can be even more difficult in the school cafeteria when you aren’t there to supervise. We’ve put together some tips and ideas to help you come up with keto-friendly school lunches that your child will enjoy.

Before school starts, ask your child’s dietitian to help you come up with some transportable meals that can be sent along to school. Find out from the school whether there is access to a refrigerator or a microwave since this will determine the types of meals that will work.

Presentation is Key

Because the ketogenic diet is high in fat and fat is denser in calories than carbohydrates and protein, ketogenic diet meals appear smaller than regular meals even though they provide the same amount of calories. Many parents find that small, fun food containers help to make ketogenic meals look more appealing and kid-friendly. Bento boxes are very popular right now and are perfect for packing keto school lunches. If you’re not familiar with them, bento-style food boxes have multiple compartments to hold small amounts of different foods that can be packaged in clever, kid-friendly ways. You can find Bento-style and other kid-friendly food containers at major department stores, kitchen goods stores, or online.

  • Meal Inspirations:

If you are looking for some lunchbox inspiration, check out these creative Bento school lunch ideas on Pinterest. Once you get some ideas, you can work with your child’s dietitian to make keto-friendly versions of Bento meals by substituting the ingredients in the compartments with low-carb, high fat foods like olives, pepperoni, or macadamia nuts.

  • Accessories

If the Bento-style boxes weren’t cute enough, there are additional accessories to make meals even more kid-friendly. For example, there are these adorable Bento food picks to hold foods together and Bento forks to send in place of utensils (keep in mind these could be a choking hazard for very young children). Then there is my personal favorite accessory, the Bento vegetable cutter. You can use these to cut low-carb vegetables (such as cucumbers or zucchini) into fun shapes that can be eaten with mayonnaise or other high-fat keto dips.

Mind the Ratio

For younger kids, it may be a good idea to send meals that have a consistent ratio regardless of how much is eaten since you can’t be there to ensure your little one eats the entire meal. For example, tuna salad that has all ingredients combined vs. a hot dog with a side of mayonnaise that must be eaten in entirety. With combined meals, you don’t have to worry that the ketogenic ratio will be off if your child doesn’t finish it all.

KetoCal LQ can be very handy for school lunches since it is ready-to-drink, nutritionally complete, and has a 4:1 ratio regardless of whether your little one takes a sip or drinks the whole box. Plus, if your child gets distracted by all the commotion in the school cafeteria, it may actually be easier for him or her to drink a meal at lunchtime. Kids love the KetoCal drink boxes since they look like the juice boxes all the other kids are drinking. Consider keeping a few boxes of KetoCal LQ at school as a back-up lunch in case the one you pack is left on the school bus or accidentally spilled on the cafeteria floor.

As always, be sure to consult with your child’s health care provider about all meal ideas to ensure that they work for your child’s specific ketogenic ratio and calorie requirements.

For those of you who have already mastered the art of packing your child’s ketogenic diet lunchbox, which meals are your child’s favorites? What tips would you offer other parents who are new to this?

Mallory

For more information on this topic, read Part 1 and Part 3 of the Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet series.

 

Photo: Flickr

Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet: Part 1

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. If your child started the ketogenic diet over the summer, you might be anxious about the thought of sending your little one back to school. Today’s post, “Informing the School About Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet” is Part 1 of the “Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet” blog series. This series will provide tips and resources to help make the transition back to school go smoothly.

Informiback to school busng the School About Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet

First, be sure to let the school know about your child’s ketogenic diet before school starts. If possible, arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher and everyone else that may care for him or her to educate them about the diet and how to manage it at school.

If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), request an IEP review meeting so that accommodations associated with the diet can be added. Prior to the meeting, have your child’s physician provide a letter explaining the ketogenic diet and the requirements during school hours.  Here is a helpful example letter, developed by the authors of Keto Cook, which your child’s neurologist can fill out for the school.

If there have been any changes to your child’s epilepsy medications, be sure to notify the school about these as well. Consider providing an updated Seizure Action Plan to reflect these changes.

Lastly, there are many celebrations at school that involve food so make sure that your child’s teachers and aides understand that your child cannot have the same treats that the other children get.  Ask them to let you know when celebrations are planned so that you can send a ketogenic diet treat for your child to enjoy. You might consider leaving a shelf-stable keto snack, such as a box of KetoCal LQ, at school just in case of an unexpected celebration.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where we’ll continue the “Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet” series with some tips on packing the ketogenic diet lunchbox!

If you have already mastered sending your little one to school on the ketogenic diet, what advice would you offer other parents?

Mallory

For more tips & resources on this topic, read Part 2 and Part 3 of the Back to School on the Ketogenic Diet Series.

Photo: Flickr