If you feel unsteady on a stairway, you grab the banister to steady yourself. Likewise, if your child’s (or your) brain chemistry is off-kilter with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), favoring healthy foods supports equilibrium. ADHD describes individuals who have trouble with concentration, impulse control and, in some cases, hyperactivity. They find that eating a balanced diet supports their regaining balance.
In some cases, identifying food sensitivities and allergens and removing them from the diet eliminates ADHD symptoms. In the least, providing a healthy diet and environment is a pleasurable—and the least invasive—way to care for your loved ones and yourself. Here’s an overview of foods that help ease ADHD symptoms plus a list of what to avoid.
Wanting your child to eat well is one thing. Getting her to do so is another. The best way to improve your child’s diet, is to eat well yourself. That requires having good food at hand and minimizing the less healthful choices.
Also, note how letting your child help prepare food magically whets her appetite. Creating something yummy is empowering no matter your age.
Foods to Favor
Healthy Fats Fats are critical for our overall physical and mental well-being. Plus, they provide a feeling of satiation that engenders satisfaction. Healthy fats include the omega-3 fatty acids (found in cod-liver oil, egg yolks, walnuts and flax oil), medium-chain fats (found in coconut oil and butter), and long-chain saturated fats (found primarily in meat and diary products). Superior vegetable oils are extra virgin olive oil and unrefined sesame oil. (Do not use: canola, soy, safflower or corn oil.)
Favor lunch-box treats rich in vital fats and protein such as jerky, nut cookies, coconut macaroons, avocados or a trail mix.
Protein There’s a good reason that menus are built around protein-rich foods. Protein, like fat, helps satisfy as well as provide essential nutrients. Note that when meals satisfy, cravings become a non-issue. Healthy protein snacks include bean dips, jerky, meat kebobs and additive-free smoked salmon.
Vegetables For the fun of it, as well as for your good health, use a wide variety of vegetables and prepare them in diverse ways. Favor the dark leafy greens like chard, spinach, kale, collards and cabbage. Also, aim to daily have an orange vegetable like carrot, yam or winter squash.
Don’t overlook the most nutritious and healing of all veggies—those from the sea. Ounce for ounce, seaweed is higher in vitamins and minerals than any other class of food and contains up to 38 percent protein!
For veggie snacks, use pureed roasted vegetables, such as red peppers, eggplant or onions, for highly flavored dips. Vary the expected celery and carrot sticks with jicama, cucumber or bell pepper crudities. Nori, the edible seaweed wrapper around sushi, is tasty when wrapped about cucumber wedges. Invite your child’s help preparing a healthy dips or in peeling—or wrapping—the cucumbers.
Healthy Carbohydrates Whole grains and starchy vegetables are superior sources of complex carbohydrates.
So, how to get healthy whole grains into your child’s lunch box? Wrapped finger foods like sushi are fun to eat. Or tightly wrap fried-rice or quinoa into a lettuce or grape leaf and secure it with a toothpick. (Skewer an olive or raisin on the toothpick as a signal to remove the toothpick.)
Unfortunately, some grains are food allergens. If you’re sensitive to a grain—or any other food—it’s imperative to avoid that food until your digestive integrity is restored.
ADHD Irritants to Carefully Avoid
Sugar & non-nutritive sweeteners
Food additives, preservatives & colorants
Stimulants (including any food or beverage, sodas included, with caffeine)
Common household chemicals
Trans-fats and refined fats and oils
Common ADHD Food Irritants to Avoid
Wheat (including bread, pasta, baked goods, etc.))