ADHD and Diet

Why is ADHD and diet important? Well, scientific research into ADHD has become a lot more prevalent as the disorder has become more widely recognized, and the links between diet and ADHD and diet are becoming more apparent.

Why Food Affects ADHD

The old adage "you are what you eat" makes a lot of sense when you're talking about ADHD and diet. Your body requires a certain number of complex proteins, fats and minerals to function, which it gains by breaking down the food that you eat. Your brain takes up around 15% of your body's energy to function, and for ADHD sufferers, this can be a lot higher. You can also affect your brain state by eating and drinking different drugs. For example, millions of people take a mental stimulant each morning in the form of coffee, and all parents know that giving their child too much sugar will send them hyperactive. These facts remain the same for people with ADHD, but the effects are magnified.

What To Avoid

Before looking at what food types to avoid and to eat, it must be stated that there is no cure for ADHD. While there are links between ADHD and diet, you can only aim to control someone's symptoms. Try helping them to cut out:

  • Sugar - ADHD is commonly linked to a fluctuation in a person's blood sugar levels, and sugars, even from fruit, can cause a big rise in blood sugar and an over stimulation of the brain stem. Don't deny them all sugar, as it is necessary to break down some of the more complex proteins, but try to limit their intake.

  • Additives and E numbers - Many soft drinks and powders will advertize themselves as being additive free. You will still need to check for E numbers, which are used for yellow food colorings. These cause hyperactivity in children without ADHD, so where possible go for natural foods and snacks.

  • Bad fats or hydrogenated oils - Any food that contains "bad fats" that promote weight gain will also decrease nerve function and stop brain cells from firing correctly. Try buying the light version of things like butter and ice cream if you are buying them.

What To Eat

To prove to yourself that there is a right and wrong way to approach ADHD and diet, try getting them to eat more:

  • Foods containing Vitamin B - B vitamins help to promote neuron activity, and are also a great stress reducer. Stress is a common factor among ADHD sufferers, as they sometimes feel as if they aren't in control of their body. Foods high in vitamin B include rice, milk and eggs.

  • Protein - Protein-rich foods help to release your energy evenly over a longer period of time, rather than sugary foods which give you a massive hit all at once. Try getting them to snack on cheese, nuts and seeds or hummus to reduce the spikes in blood sugar levels.

  • Calcium - All children need calcium for strong bones, but it can also help build up the immune system and in particular the impulse mechanisms in cells. By controlling their ADHD impulses, children will feel more in control of themselves. Any dairy food will contain calcium naturally, but you can increase the uptake of calcium by feeding them vitamin D rich foods such as milk and eggs.

While it can be hard to cook for someone with ADHD realize that a good diet for ADHD is actually good for anyone. Diet changes will need to be made slowly. Each person will react differently to different foods, so you'll need to monitor what they're eating and the changes in their behaviors and attitudes.

› ADHD and Diet

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