3 Top Tips: Surviving keto life as an adult with epilepsy

When I started this blog I thought I’d be able to update it regularly with posts about my ketogenic journey for epilepsy, recipes and resources. BOY WAS I WRONG!!! Blogging slipped down the priority list (but that’s ok because epilepsy management comes first).

This post is for adults with epilepsy embarking on the lifestyle with 3 top tips to bear in mind when embarking on this life changing journey & links to 3 recipes on my Instagram @riagoesketo @ananyariaroy.


The GOOD news is that the ketogenic lifestyle is still working for my overall wellbeing and still controlling my epilepsy – this month I’ll be one year seizure free!. It remains to be seen whether that’s the impact of the lifestyle or the medication.

The BAD news is that life has been a rollercoaster this last year and I’ve been terrible at blogging my ketogenic journey apart from microblogging on my Instagram accounts @riagoesketo (just keto for epilepsy posts) and @ananyariaroy (my personal account with a mix of posts including keto).

There honestly weren’t enough hours in a day to work (the load was the kind where you needed more than 24 hours in a day), eat, spend time with family, sleep, exercise, and I pretty much forgot about having much of a social life let along blogging.

My priority is staying seizure-free and keto is just one (major) part of a holistic lifestyle change. Stress and anxiety management is a constant battle and for me this last year post shoulder surgery along with numerous personal challenges on the relationship and work front has constantly pushed my stress limits – stress being my #1 trigger combined with #2 – lack of sleep. I’m pleased to report though that I’ve survived this last year unscathed although I’ve had a couple of auras and took my emergency pill on a few occasions. The lifestyle has taught me to be more aware of my body and I’m definitely more aware of my brain than EVER before! WIN!

So for those of you adults with epilepsy embarking on a new diet for your epilepsy, here are my 3 Top Tips:

  1. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process:It can be tempting to feel like you need to research and understand everything straight away, get your macros perfect right off the bat, and so on. But take your time to absorb and learn about the lifestyle in your own time (do your READING, don’t just rely on YouTube).

    It is unlikely you’ll learn everything about the lifestyle let alone test the impact of the lifestyle on YOUR body in a month – give yourself time to learn, play and adapt – enjoy the process.

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    Keto Lemon & Mint FroYo
  2. Listen to your body and the different types of dietary therapies used to treat epilepsy:Although I’ve been on the keto lifestyle for nearly 1.5 years, I have by no means been consistently in ketosis. I do have ‘cheat days’ but this doesn’t mean I load up on sugar, I still opt for the healthier low GI options during cheat days (which also tend to be during my period.)

    I’m a strong believer in sustainability and balance and ‘finding what works for you’ at the end of the day and found that for me it was a combination of mostly ketogenic combined with low GI on certain days seems to work.

    View the Epilepsy Foundation website for more on Dietary Therapies.

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    Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie
  3. Don’t have #FOMO! It’s more than just what you put in your mouth 

    (I personally think the ketogenic lifestyle  works best in tandem with other lifestyle improvements. Factors that could improve outcomes might be e.g. sleep, time with family and friends, work-life-balance, exercise and so on.I strongly recommend taking the time out to assess your seizure triggers, find out what lifestyle factors could minimise them, review and prioritise what’s important, and if necessary, adapt your lifestyle as a whole.

    When prioritising it will probably mean something is sacrificed in the quest for better health, and for us millennials there is always a major #FOMO – but the end result will always be worth it – seizure freedom!

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    FAMILY TIME! Keto Shakshuka for Fathers Day Brunch 🙂

Bonus tip! (And one that I personally struggle with)

It goes without saying that you should be making dietary lifestyle changes for epilepsy under your neurologists supervision and ideally with a ketogenic dietitian, but the reality is that there are probably many who are doing it without either. (I personally had to wait 8 months for an appointment).

Although I am technically under a ketogenic dietitian, follow-up / communication has not been great – largely on my part as it is taxing and a lot of work to submit food diaries, monitor your blood, do routine blood/urine tests etc. A lot of the hard work falls on the patient which is paper based. For an epileptic that can add up to a lot of brainpower and physical energy in addition to daily life and I for one find it quite stressful and draining. Give me an app any day please. (Rant over!)

Nevertheless it IS an absolute necessity if your goal is to manage your epilepsy (or for any medical condition) – please do it under supervision of a health professional as there ARE side effects to the lifestyle.

P.S I write this blog a few days before a milestone “Holidate”! It’s the first holiday I’ve had in a LONG time and the first time in a long time that I’ve gone somewhere without family of some kind as well. I’m completely throwing myself out of my comfort zone. The last time I felt this out of my comfort zone was 9 years ago!  Getting my priorities straight and giving myself a break!

I hope to post more frequently and prioritise this blog every fortnight! GOALS!

 

 

Keto Protein Cloud Loaf

I love the cloud bread recipes floating around (excuse the pun), but I find them to be a bit frustrating and a bit hit-and-miss sometimes.

Also, my oven isn’t huge so making a few light pieces of cloud bread isn’t convenient or satisfying, and I can’t wait around to make them in batches as the whipped egg whites are too sensitive so they really need to go in the oven as soon as they’re prepared.

I personally find making a good old loaf of bread to be the simplest thing. This recipe was inspired by the cloud bread recipe and a chiffon cake recipe using whey protein.

I’ve replaced the cream cheese with Greek Yogurt (it’s cheaper and we buy it in bulk), and the texture works PERFECTLY as a bread (it works both savoury or sweet depending on your preference).

FAQ’s

Does the bread taste like cake?

I don’t think it’s cakey as it has no (nut) flour. It’s almost like a super light Keto version of a loaf of brioche.

It’s so good that in my books it beats almond bread, coconut bread, and flax bread. I’m a sucker for light and fluffy bread!

How do you eat it?

Like bread!

Slice, smother in butter/ghee/garlic olive oil, pan fry, (I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried toasting it because it’s quite light and I have a feeling it might get stuck in the toaster), use it in a sandwich, and so on.

(This morning I toasted a slice in ghee and made an open sandwich with creamy scrambled eggs – because I’m addicted to scrambled eggs at the moment – with a side of bacon and greens).

Keto Protein Loaf (6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 170g Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 50g Whey Protein Isolate (Unflavoured for savoury bread, *Vanilla flavoured for Sweet bread)
  • OPTION 1 Spicy Savoury Bread: Spices: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt of choice, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Chilli Flakes (or other savoury spices of choice).
  • *OPTION 2 Sweet Bread: 2-3 tablespoons sweetener of choice if using unflavoured whey protein OR use a vanilla flavoured whey isolate protein powder.

METHOD

1. Preperation: Pre-heat the oven to 150C and grease a loaf tin.

2. Add the cream of tartar to the egg white and whisk until stiff peaks form.

3. To the egg yolks add the remaining ingredients (greek yogurt, whey protein, baking powder, salt and spices).

4. Mix the yolk mixture well.

5. Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture in parts:

  • Add 1/3 of the white and mix to loosen the batter.
  • Add 2/3 and FOLD very gently. You want it to be well combined but don’t want to lose any “fluffiness”.

6. Pour it into your greased loaf tin and bake at 150C for approximately 60minutes. (You may have to adjust the temperature and time depending on your oven.)

(NOTE: If you really want buns it might work but I haven’t tried!)

Macros

1 whole loaf (= approximately 10 servings):

  • Calories: 835.2 kcal
  • Protein: 85.6g
  • Net carbs: 17.6g
  • Fat: 45.6g

1 slice:

  • Calories: 83.5 kcal
  • Protein: 8.6g
  • Net carbs: 1.8g
  • Fat: 4.6g

 

 

Keto Mini Cinnamon Rolls & Chocolate Rolls (Gluten Free|Low Carb)

Keto & Epilepsy Update

I’ve been struggling to get my fats in again and I know my weight has changed since I started this way of eating, and I feel like I need to adjust my macros. But I’m not quite sure.

However I FINALLY GOT AN APPOINTMENT WITH A DIETITIAN ON THE NHS! Although the appointment is all the way in December, I’m over the moon and couldn’t be more excited because I thought it was never going to happen. I don’t think there are that many “ketogenic diet for adults with epilepsy” specialists around.

Anyway it has been over nine months since I found out about the the diet, and around six months of being on it. I can now say the following:

POSITIVES:

  • My seizures have reduced in severity. Since going keto I did have one grandmal however that was a day after changing my dose which was kind of expected.
  • Creative outlet: I enjoy cooking and experimenting with keto recipes, especially making more ‘mainstream’ food out of low-carb ingredients.
  • Be prepared: It’s hard out there and MOST foods have sugar and/or additives. So planning is crucial!
  • Learning: The Keto WOE isn’t the same for everyone. My dad is doing it for weightloss and his heart but he also doesn’t really care (yet) about inflammatory additives. Whereas I’m doing it for epilepsy and eczema and so additives are important to me.

NEGATIVES:

Please note that both of the negatives mentioned below are also side effects of Zonisamide (Zonegran), the anti-epileptic medication that I’m on. 

  • Weight loss. Chubby 16 year-old me on Epilim would have loved to be able to lose the weight so quickly, but 32 year-old me isn’t quite so sure about the drastic weight loss.
  • Fluctuating energy levels. There are moments where I have sufficient energy and moments where I’m exhausted. I can’t drink caffeine so rely on MCT oil for quick bursts of energy.

FatHead Pastry: The Keto Holy Grail!

My foodprep this Sunday was mini Keto pastries made with a slightly sweetened fathead pastry.

I made bitesized Mini Cinnamon Rolls (0.9g carbs) and Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish Pastries (1.5g carbs) today!

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Whoever came up with the idea of the genius fathead dough. I. LOVE. YOU!!! Next time I visit my sister in Paris, I’m taking along a batch of these babies so I’m not tempted (again!)

Ingredients

FatHead Pastry:

  • 200g (1.5 cups) shredded mozzarella
  • 80g (0.75 cup) almond flour
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Natvia
Cinnamon Filling:
  • 2 tbsp Natvia (or other low-carb sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Hot water
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 2 drops liquid stevia
  • Vanilla

Chocolate Filling:

  • Cocoa or Cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • Hot water

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • Dark Chocolate (I used 2 squares of Lindt 85% Chocolate)

Method

Fathead Pastry

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius/360 Fahrenheit.
  2. Measure out mozzarella and cream cheese, and melt in a non-stick pot over a low flame or in a microwave. It will take approximately 1.5 minutes. NOTE: Stir the mixture half way through!
  3. Crack and stir in the egg into the mixture well.
  4. Then measure and add the almond flour, baking powder, and sweetener of choice, and mix well into a smooth doughball.
  5. Divide the dough into two batches / balls.

Cinnamon Rolls

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  1. Place one batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Cinnamon Filling: boiled water, sweetener and cinnamon.
  3. Brush the Cinnamon Filling along the entire flat top of the pastry.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into rolls (approximately 10-12 rolls).
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. While the rolls are baking, mix the frosting: cream cheese, yogurt and sweetener,
  8. Once the rolls have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CINNAMON ROLLS AND EAT!!!

Chocolate Rolls / Chocolate Danish

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  1. Place the second batch / ball on a parchment paper and place another parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out until it’s as thin as you can get it (but still workable) into a large rectangle.
  2. Prepare the Chocolate Fillling: Boiled water, Cacao Powder, Cinnamon (optional), Sugar-Free Maple Syrup or other sweetener of choice.
  3. Pour the chocolate filling on top of the pastry and spread over evenly. NOTE: Don’t go too close to the edges.
  4. Roll the pastry into a log along the length.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut the pasty into rolls, or slightly longer pastries.
  6. Place on a non-stick dish and bake at 180C for 20 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
  7. Whilst the Chocolate Pastries are baking, melt your required amount of Dark Chocolate to drizzle on top!
  8. Once the pastries have baked, drizzle or spread over your WARM CHOCOLATE PASTRIES AND EAT!!!

ketopastry9-min

Let’s just say I think I’ll his my fat macros today :-)! These are BY FAR MY FAVOURITE FAT BOMBS!

Macros

Mini Cinnamon Roll:

  • 70 Kcal
  • 3.5g Protein
  • 1.9g Carbs
  • 1g Fiber
  • 0.9g Net Carbs
  • 5.8g Fat
  • Calcium: 84.4 mg

Mini Chocolate Roll:

  • 75.7 Kcal
  • 3.7g Protein
  • 2.4g Carbs
  • 0.9g Fiber
  • 1.5g Net Carbs
  • 6.1g Fat
  • Calcium: 77.9 mg

Keto Croutons (Gluten Free|Dairy Free|Low Carb)

This was one of those spur of the moment things that I’m so pleased with, it’s DEFINITELY going to become a permanent part of my staples in my Keto pantry.

The reason these babies came about was because I was craving a Caesar salad. But you can’t have a Caesar salad without croutons right!!!

As I learnt, Keto Croutons couldn’t be simpler to make. If making microwave Keto Flax Bread was the easiest recipe in the world, this is just one step up.

They take less than 10 minutes to prepare, are quite moreish (I finished 3 portions of the 4 I made in one day). It also makes for a satisfying Keto snack-on-the-run. I’ve actually been munching on them with cheese (like flax crackers I suppose). They’re THAT good and guilt-free, and SUPER CRUNCHY 🙂 !

ketocroutons (2)_1200-min

RECIPE

This recipe make approximately 4 servings.

Utensils & Ingredients

  • 1 Microwavable Dish (I used a glass dish that was approximately 5×5 inch)
  • Butter (or oil) to grease
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 4 Tbsp Flax Meal (You could also probably make it from Almond Meal)
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt of choice
  • OPTIONAL Spices / Seasonings of choice: E.g. Pepper, Chilli, Garlic, Onion, Cayenne, Paprika, Turmeric etc.

Method

  • Grease your dish with the butter or oil.
  • Crack and beat the egg in the dish.
  • Add the flax, baking powder, salt, and optional spices and seasonings of choice.
  • Stir the mixture well until everything is well incorporated.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes.

(Click here for step-by-step images of how to make microwave keto bread)

  • Remove the bread from the microwave and slice it into two slices, then cut into crouton sized cubes.

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  • Place the bread cubes on a plate and microwave in 1 minute bursts until hard. (Mine took 2 minutes in total).
  • Cool, sprinkle on your salad, or eat as it is with a dip or cheese!

Macros

Per serving:

  • 47.2 Kcal
  • 2.9 Protein
  • 2.7g Carbs
  • 2g Fiber
  • 0.7g Net Carbs
  • 2.9g Fat

ketocroutons (8)_1200-min