How Food & Exercise Affect People with Epilepsy
While not all causes of epileptic seizures are known, many people with epilepsy are able to avoid certain triggers to reduce their frequency of seizures. Adjusting your diet and exercise routine are two ways you can begin taking control of your life with epilepsy.
Food and Epilepsy
While there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that food can trigger seizures, many people with epilepsy believe that certain foods can be directly related to an episode. Depending on your type of epilepsy and the medication you’ve been prescribed, some neurologists may also recommend dietary changes. Speak to your Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group neurologist about your diet and ask if there are any changes you could make at home to avoid certain triggers.
Use these tips to take control of your diet:
- Keep a diary of foods that you eat and how you feel afterward, or note if you have a seizure following a particular meal.
- Prepare food at home rather than eating out.
- Buy pre-cut meat to avoid using a knife in case of a seizure while cooking or eating.
- Use caution in the kitchen. It is usually safer to use a microwave than a stove or oven.
- Focus on a balanced diet for nutrition, or follow the diet plan provided by your neurologist.
- Do not deviate from a diet plan that was prescribed by your neurologist.
For some younger patients with epilepsy, a neurologist may recommend the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. This diet should only be started under the recommendation and supervision of a physician.
Exercise and Epilepsy
Exercising is another way that you can take control over your own health. Don’t allow the fear of having a seizure during an exercise deter you from staying active. Instead, talk to your doctor about what exercises are right for you. Some studies have even shown that people with epilepsy who exercise regularly have fewer seizures than those who don’t exercise regularly.
It’s best to always exercise with a friend who is aware of possible seizures and safety procedures in case you have a seizure.
Use these tips to start planning your exercise activities:
- Carry your medic alert card or wear your medic alert bracelet or necklace.
- Keep a diary of the exercises you’re doing and how they make you feel afterward.
- Find a partner near your fitness level and start off slowly.
- Wear the correct protective gear if you’re playing a contact sport, riding a bike or rollerblading.
- Take proper precautions when it comes to water activities.
- When jogging or walking, consider taking a path that’s not too far from other people, but also not on a busy street.
By taking control over your diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you will be making improvements that don’t just help control your epilepsy, but also reduce the risks of developing other health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Speak to your Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group neurologist about how improving your diet and incorporating exercise into your daily routine can improve your mental, physical and emotional health.