lizzy gow keto

Keeping an eye out: Lizzy began the diet while she was in hospital, and was medically monitored throughout.
While medications to treat epilepsy are widely varied, some parents are claiming a more natural method can be effective.

One mother in South Australia claims she saw a vast improvement in her young daughter's seizures that she said were 'consuming their [family's] life', after just 18 months on the controversial ketogenic diet.

Zoe Gow told Daily Mail Australia her daughter Lizzy was diagnosed with the condition at just three years old, and she had watched her child suffer uncontrollable nightly seizures for six years, despite medication.

The Gow family's lives were changed in February 2013, when the mother-of-two sat down to watch First Do No Harm, a TV movie starring Meryl Streep. The film follows the true story of a mother who attempts to cure her son's epilepsy with a ketogenic diet after bad experiences in hospital. 'I remember finishing it crying my eyes out and realising we had to find out if we could give it a go,' Mrs Gow said.

After much research, she contacted the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, where Lizzy had been treated before, and asked if the diet was an option for her child. At that point, the then-eight-year-old had been suffering hallucinatory seizures at least once a night.

lizzy gow

Before: Lizzy Gow was suffering hallucinatory seizures every night for six years before her mother was inspired to try and put her on a ketogenic diet by a Meryl Streep TV movie.
In July, Mrs Gow and her husband travelled to Melbourne to see a dietician who ran them through what the high fat, low carb and low protein diet would require.

A month later Lizzy was taken off her epilepsy medication and admitted to hospital to begin the diet, and her mother said things began to change for the better almost immediately.

'Although we didn't see a seizure decrease straight away, we saw a cognitive improvement and you could see her memory, her learning and her behaviour were better,' she said.

'It wasn't probably until the middle of 2014 we started to see a reduction in seizures, and slowly but surely they started to reduce, and started to change and then they calmed right down.'

Now, Lizzy's seizures have stopped, resulting in what her mother refers to as 'the best year she's ever had'.

This is despite Lizzy opting out of the diet in March 2015 - three-quarters of the way through their prescribed two years - and Mrs Gow claims the improvements continued even after that.

'She's had a few mild seizures [since coming off the diet], but 2016 was the best year she's ever had,' she said.

'I f***ing love what the diet did for us. It was absolutely amazing.'
keto diet epilepsy

Starting off: While it took until mid 2014 for the seizures to begin to calm down, Mrs Gow said she saw a change in her daughter almost immediately.
But the family's success did not come without huge sacrifice. Mrs Gow estimates she and her husband would spend an extra 2-3 hours a day working on the diet.

'For every meal, we would have to measure each ingredient and we did blood tests every day to make sure she was still in ketosis,' she explained.

As the diet is highly restrictive and needs to be medically monitored, the rest of the family were unable to join in.

'We had to make separate meals - we would bulk cook Lizzy's morning and afternoon tea, and I would cook her dinners while my husband would cook ours,' said Mrs Gow.

'If you had other recipes and were planning for the next day, you'd be back in the kitchen after dinner as well.

'We probably dedicated an additional 2-3 hours here and there most days towards prepping. As you get better at it you become a bit more organised.'

As well as the time-consuming nature of the diet, it is also hugely restrictive, which Lizzy began to struggle with as she grew up.

'I can clearly remember having a conversation where she turned around and told me she couldn't do it anymore and didn't want to be different,' said Mrs Gow, who added that was the point they decided to end the diet.

'That was really scary, because we didn't know if that meant the seizures would come back or if keto had done its work and we were going to keep the gains we'd made.'

Luckily, the now 12-year-old did not lose her progress, and according to her mother, 'the last of the seizures just disappeared in 2015'.

'For us it was a game changer. It was a lot of hard work for that 18 months but well worth it.'
lizzy gow epilepsy

Better than ever! After coming off the diet in mid 2015, Mrs Gow said the severity of her daughters condition did not return, and in fact her health continued to improve.