YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Young teen stays seizure free on high-fat, ketogenic diet

Jun 1, 2018, 6:18 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2018, 10:08 pm

BOUNTIFUL, Utah – Counting carb, fat, and protein intake isn’t typical of most teenagers, but it’s 13-year-old Elli Holzer’s daily routine.

She was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder when she was only 3 years old, changing her entire life.

Elli Holzer’s mother, Sally Holzer, said she started to notice something strange happening in the mornings before she fed her daughter as a baby.

Elli was having a seizure every morning.

“She started having eye twitches and her head would bob a little bit,” Sally Holzer said.

Elli Holzer is on a modified version of the Ketogenic diet. She limits the number of carbohydrates she eats and adds a lot of fat to her diet.

After several tests, Elli’s parents learned their daughter’s brain was not processing sugar normally. They weight out their options and learned medications would not be enough to solve the problem. Instead, they turned to diet.

“For Elli’s condition, the only treatment is the Ketogenic diet,” Sally Holzer said.

Elli’s parents immediately started her on the keto diet — a high-fat, low carb lifestyle. Her mom said fat made up 92 percent of Elli’s diet.

Elli Holzer was diagnosed with Glut1 Deficiency, a rare neurological disorder, when she was three-years-old. (Photo Sally Holzer)

As a baby, Elli Holzer was fed meals like a tablespoon of yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of oil and a thin slice of apple.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Tara Finnerty, a registered dietician at Primary Children’s Hospital, explained how the diet works.

“It forces your body to use fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates — or a simpler word is sugar,” she said.

Surprisingly, Finnerty suggests Elli Holzer eats heavy cream, butter and high-fat meats.

“It’s kind of everything we’ve been told not to eat is actually allowed on this diet,” she said, “In addition to healthier fats like avocados and olives.”

Elli Holzer’s parents started her on a strict high-fat, Ketogenic diet when she was three-years-old. (Photo courtesy Sally Holzer)

Although the diet demands much discipline and emotional endurance, Elli’s mom said the diet is worth it.

“Watching your child have seizures—you’re just willing to do anything,” Sally Holzer explained.

Elli Holzer has not had a seizure since she made the diet change at 3 years of age. Her parents noticed a dramatic improvement in her ability to learn once she started the diet.

“Her learning just skyrocketed,” her mom said.

Now, Elli Holzer is a 4.0 student in school.

Today, Elli is on a modified version of the diet.

Elli Holzer said she is grateful the diet keeps her feeling well enough to her favorite sport – soccer.

“She gets the freedom to mentally calculate how many carbs are in the foods that she’s eating,” Sally Holzer described.

Elli Holzer said the diet is tough but pays off, especially since it lets her play her favorite game: soccer.

“It’s something I can do that doesn’t make me remember my diet,” Elli Holzer said.

Finnerty warns against parents putting their kids on a ketogenic diet without consulting a doctor first. She explained doctors treat the diet like any other medical treatment or medication.

Through blood work, the ketogenic team at Primary Children’s Hospital monitors the child’s energy, cholesterol and blood sugar levels over time.

Visit Intermountain Healthcare to set-up an appointment with a registered dietician or call 801-662-1601.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

FILE PHOTO (Maryland State Police)...
Ayanna Likens

How to make sure your child’s car seat is properly installed

It's Child Passenger Safety week, and it's crucial that your kids are properly buckled in before you hit the road.
5 days ago
A program at LDS Hospital is bringing support and a distraction from those receiving treatment for ...
Ayanna Likens

Joy and Wellness Program provided support for those battling cancer

A program at LDS Hospital is bringing support and a distraction from those receiving treatment for blood cancers.
12 days ago
Intermountain healthcare launched a new mental health resource that will visit children and teens i...
Ayanna Likens

A new free mental health resource in Utah will visit children in their moment of crisis

Intermountain Healthcare launched a new mental health resource for children and teens. The Stabilization Mobile Response unit (SMR) is designed to go to your home in a discreet way to help your child in crisis. The service is free.
19 days ago
Max Thomas Richins (right) and Dr. James Hellowell (left), the man who Richins credits with saving ...
Ayanna Likens

Ogden man shares how naloxone saved his life

In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, one Ogden man said naloxone saved his life — and many of his friends, too.
27 days ago
Mom of three, Abby, working out....
Ayanna Likens

Creating healthy habits for families as kids return to school

Summer has come to an end, and school is back in session, which comes with a big adjustment for both parents and kids.
1 month ago
UVU Homecoming festivities and Women’s Soccer vs. New Mexico on the campus of Utah Valley Univers...
Ayanna Likens

How you can help prevent injuries as students get back into fall sports

As kids returned to classrooms this week, they are also returning to fall sports – one Intermountain doctor shares tips on how to keep your kids healthy as they return to the field.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Young teen stays seizure free on high-fat, ketogenic diet