HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The health care providers at Milestones in Downtown Honolulu use medication and therapy to treat neurodevelopmental conditions like cerebral palsy, autism and ADHD.
But for patients like James Christiansen, food is also prescribed.
The 8-year-old eats foods like cream, ground beef and avocado to stay healthy.
Because of a brain injury, James suffered up to 30 seizures a day and medications robbed him of his vitality.
“It’s just heartbreaking because we knew how he really is. He’s real personal, vivacious, thriving and then when he’s sedated all day, he can’t do much,” said Dana Christiansen, James' adopted mother.
But for 3 1/2 years, James has been off the meds thanks to eating a medical ketogenic diet that’s high fat, medium protein and low carb.
"It's a miracle that through foods he enjoys, that it's preventing his seizures. It's allowing him to be more alert and he's really developing now," said Christiansen.
“We are using it as medicine to treat the seizures,” said registered dietitian Miki Wong, Director of Research and Community Outreach for Milestones.
She showed off keto alternatives like mapo tofu, salads and flourless chocolate cake, but says sugar, rice, pasta and bread are off limits.
"You can have fat, cheese, butter and bacon, coconut oil, avocado," she said.
Dr. Ryan Lee, a pediatric neurologist and Milestones President and CEO, says the medical ketogenic diet gives the brain an alternative fuel and alters the body’s chemistry.
"For us to provide something that you can provide every day, something that you can get in the community at the grocery store as an approach toward healing people, that I believe is transformative," said Lee.
For patients like James who’s awakened because of his diet, each day is a milestone.