Weight Loss Tips for People with Epilepsy

When I started taking my current epilepsy medicine (Depakote), I gained about 20 pounds for no apparent reason. Is this unusual? I learned from my neurologist that this is one of the more common side effects. So what’s the problem? I was already overweight and this made things worse. I want to lose weight the ‘natural way’ without any diet pills or surgery. There is a lot of misinformation out there and some of it is not tailored for someone with epilepsy. I want to share my suggestions with you.

Consult your Doctor

I am a fellow patient NOT a doctor. You should consult your doctor to make sure a weight loss regime is right for you.  These are just experiences that I have found helpful.

Exercise

Have Fun with Exercise

Your weight loss regimen will be much more effective when you combine it with exercise. If you are going to exercise, why would you pick something that you didn’t enjoy? I suggest looking around and trying a few of the options in your area. When you find something you like doing, exercise will seem fun instead of tedious.

Let the Exercise Instructor know about your Condition

Over exerting yourself can have unintended consequences. If you have one, you may want to let your exercise instructor know about your condition. You may also want to give them an action plan in case something happens. If you are going swimming, you may want to talk to the lifeguard. Sometimes people have good intentions. However, some are not well-informed and don’t know what to do when a seizure occurs. Giving them a plan will help make sure you don’t have a spoon jammed in your mouth when you wake up.

Food Consumption

Foods with Benefits

To help get you started, The Huffington Post posted an article with 50 of the healthiest foods. They also have an excellent description of the health benefits.

Fats are your Friends

Some diets high in fat have been proven to reduce seizures.  Don’t try to eliminate them from your diet.   Studies have proven that the modified Atkins Diet as well as the Ketogenic Diet, which are both diets high in fat, had positive benefits for people with epilepsy. See epilepsy.com for more information.

Even if you don not have a chronic illness, your body still needs some fat in order to function properly.  As long as you do not go crazy and eat too much.  Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids have all been proven to be beneficial for the heart. These fats also have a long list of other benefits. See mayoclinic.org for more information.

Don’t Deprive Yourself

Love the Chocolate

One of the big lessons that I learned is not to deprive yourself of the foods you love. If you like chocolate, don’t deprive yourself of it. Just learn to eat it in moderation or save it for those special occasions. If you are craving a particular dish, reserve a day once a week for satisfying those cravings.

Journal Your Food Intake

Make sure you are eating the proper number of calories. Sometimes you don’t realize how many calories you are eating until you log it into a food journal such as: myfitnesspal.com or sparkpeople.com.  For some people, they may be depriving themselves and not eating enough food. Your body needs a specific number of calories to function properly. Not eating enough calories can also put your body into ‘starvation mode’. In order to help you get started the websites listed above can help you track the number of calories you are eating each day. A dietician can also be a good person to consult to help you get started.

Be Cautious of the White Stuff

You will want to be very cautious around your white foods such as: white potatoes, white rice, white sugar, white flour, etc. It is ridiculously easy to eat too much of these, so moderation is key. According to webmd.com, “we’d be healthier if we got most of our carbohydrates from “smart carbs” like fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. ”

Make it a Group Effort

According to usnews.com, “research suggests that if you want to lose weight, don’t try to do it alone.” Go to the gym with a group of friends, share helpful advice, or take part in a group weight loss challenge. Studies have shown that weight loss is more effective when a group is involved. Besides it is more fun this way.

 

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