NYU Steinhardt News

Graduate nutrition students learn about ketogenic diet for pediatric and adult epilepsy patients in summer session course

Bridget Wardley, pediatric dietitian and Visiting Assistant Professor of Clinical Nutrition, introduced a new course this summer enabling graduate nutrition students to explore the use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment option in epilepsy. The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate controlled protein therapeutic diet which has been shown to be an effective option in the management of intractable epilepsy in children. It has also been successfully used in some adults with this condition.

In this two-week summer class the students learned about the history of the ketogenic diet in treating epilepsy, the scientific rationale and evidence supporting its use in the management of pediatric and adult seizure disorders as well 

as the practicalities of implementing the diet. Through a case study assignment, students gained hands on experience in designing and preparing the 4 different types of diets commonly used in clinical practice. In groups, students prepared a classic 4:1 ratio ketogenic diet, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic diet, a modified Atkins ketogenic diet and a Low glycemic index ketogenic diet. Through this activity they were able to gain an appreciation for the practicalities involved in preparing meals, and to discuss the nutritional implications of this diet which requires careful supervision by an experienced registered dietitian.