Is there a diet for ADHD? Does it work?
More and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD each year. With the ADHD phenomenon on the rise, parents are looking for alternative treatments to replace conventional prescription medications that doctors often prescribe. While there are a number of behavioural therapies and natural remedies that can help the ADHD child, did you know that diet can also play a very important role in improving concentration levels and reducing hyperactivity?
Are there foods that your child should be eating to improve concentration and reduce hyperactivity? Or are there things that your child should avoid eating because they increase hyperactivity and distractibility, while affecting concentration?
While there is no scientific evidence that ADHD is caused by a bad diet, studies do suggest that diet and nutrition can make a significant difference for those diagnosed with ADHD.
We look at helpful ways to manage your child’s ADHD by eliminating certain foods, changing foods and including supplements. In fact, follow these ADHD tips for any child and you will see improvements in their ability to concentrate and do their best in the classroom!
- Eat brain-healthy foods
Include foods that are high in protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, beans or nuts. These brain foods will improve concentration and memory and mental functioning.
- Add more omega3 fatty acids
Studies show that improvement in attention has been shown when omega-3 fatty acids have been included in the diet. Omega-3’s are important building blocks for the brain and can definitely benefit the ADHD child’s life. Foods that contain omega 3’s include salmon, tuna, avocado, walnuts, brazil nuts, olive and canola oil. Add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement for extra brain support.
- Include complex carbohydrates
Choose good carbs to increase brain functioning and mood. These are complex carbohydrates which provide energy to help keep you focused and attentive. Keep complex carbs such as veggies, fruits (apples, pears, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, tangerines), whole wheat bread, oat meal, brown rice, bean and lentils readily available for kids to eat.
- Cut down on simple carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to spike which then increases energy levels. By now we all know what happens when our kids overload on sugar! Not too long afterwards they are bouncing off the wall which is usually followed by moodiness and irritability! Keep simple carbs such as sugary foods, white bread, white flour, white rice, fizzy drinks, honey and corn syrup to a minimum.
- Increase vitamin supplements
Certain vitamin supplements have also been shown to have a positive effect on children with ADHD. Include zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil, primrose oil to reduce hyperactivity & inattentiveness and improve concentration. Kids are not usually big fans of these supplements because they don’t like the oily taste or size of the capsule but they are now available in various palatable flavours.
- Watch out for food additives
Check food labels carefully! Preservatives, added flavouring and colourants can all spark off problems, especially in children who are sensitive to these added chemicals. Watch out for sneaky culprits, tartrazine and MSG (monosodium glutamate) which are known to have adverse effects on your health. Choose unprocessed foods that are as natural as possible. Challenge your family to start eating clean by including whole foods, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats.
Keep a food diary
A good idea is to keep a food diary, recording what your child eats and then observing changes in behaviour. All children are different and it is a good idea to learn about what affects your child. When your child is bouncing around and it’s past his bedtime, it may be a good idea to try and remember what he ate earlier.
- Choose natural remedies
Together with a healthier diet and changing certain foods, try natural remedies to improve concentration and attention span. Feelgood Health’s mood, behaviour and concentration remedies, Focus & Calm, BrightSpark, Triple Complex Brain Tonic and Mindsoothe Jr are effective, gentle and safe to use for children of all ages.
While diet is not necessarily a cure-all, treating ADHD holistically can definitely help to manage this condition effectively. Manage your child’s ADHD by making small improvements to their diet and you may be quite surprised to see the change in their overall behaviour as well as concentration levels.