The ADHD diet : A little Food Awareness goes a long way!
Adopting a healthy ADHD diet is an effective way to minimize your ADHD symptoms. Why is this important?
- Because everything you consume impacts the functioning of your body and brain.
- Because the way food is grown, harvested, prepared and treated today is quite different from just a century ago. Our great grand parents used to eat real food, not food laden with hormones, preservatives, additives, artificial coloring, emulsifiers, etc.
- Because numerous studies have revealed a connection between ADHD symptoms and diet. For example, a lack of omega 3 fatty acids causes memory problems, artificial coloring increases hyperactivity and low magnesium levels are linked to inattention.
Although I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all ADHD diet, the following suggestions will increase your awareness about which foods affect ADHD symptoms. This way you can make informed dietary choices and opt to eat nourishing foods versus foods that aggravate ADHD. But first, let’s cover the basics…
The Basics of The Basics
- Eat real foods – avoid processed foods
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
- Nourish your ADHD brain with high quality protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy)
- Minimize gluten and industrial seed & vegetable oils
- Minimize your sugar intake!Keep reading to find out why these basic guidelines will improve your health and diminish your ADHD symptoms.
Make Small Changes
Making dietary adjustments takes time. Take an ADHD-friendly approach and implement changes at a comfortable pace.
Start simple and over time you’ll notice how small adjustments make a big difference. If some less favorable foods manage to sneak into your ADHD diet, don’t worry about it.
Whenever you feel tense about making the right dietary choices, take a few deep breaths. Creating a healthier ADHD diet should be a feel-good-journey, not a trip down anxiety lane!
Confused about Nutrition?
In the last 50 years, food has morphed from a pleasant necessity to the source of many a neurosis – what was once a natural source of fuel and nutrition has become a profit-driven, anxiety inducing marketing circus.
Millions of books are published every year discussing a wide variety of eating strategies and diets, not to mention the tons of blogs and websites on nutrition. Consumers are bombarded daily with (often contradictory) nutritional advice.
People are becoming increasingly confused about what they should or shouldn’t eat. Many have resigned themselves to food experimentation by becoming vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, paleo eaters, etc.
Personally, I’ve studied nutrition from multiple angles and did not shy away from experimentation. In the end, however, I found that the best (and safest!) way to eat is based on traditions used before the introduction of pre-made dishes and processed foods.
This approach is both simple and applicable within contemporary food culture, though it might require a bit of adjustment if you currently consume a lot of processed foods. I strongly discourage anyone from eliminating entire food categories from their diet (unless you have a clinically tested allergy).
As I said, I’ve experimented with many diets. At one time or another, I’ve eliminated meat, dairy, fats and most carbs from my diet. In every instance I developed symptoms of nutritional deficiencies. Today, the only foods I keep to an absolute minimum are processed foods, industrial seed oils, gluten and refined sugar.
A Great Book on This Topic
I’ve read many books on this subject, but it took me some time to find one that wasn’t forcefully advocating one way of eating over another. Many diet fads have a specific (and often aggressive) dietary strategy.
Negative language like ‘Meat is murder,’ ‘Carbs are poison,’ or ‘Fat will kill you!’ instills fear in people in order to push one philosophy or another. To me, this feels wrong because it is a fear-based approach to food. Food is nourishment. We must get back to treating this topic with love and respect. Forceful suggestions disregard the fact that everyone is unique – what benefits one person may be harmful to another.
If you’re looking for a book that provides excellent, objective information about nutrition, check out Chris Kresser’s “Your Personal Paleo Code.” This publication provides detailed information within the broader nutritional context. I found its accessible language and helpful diet customization tips uniquely valuable.
Too much to Digest?
People with ADHD can get overwhelmed by too many details. That’s why I’ve deliberately stuck to the basics of what makes a healthy ADHD diet. Even so, it may still be too much to digest – pun intended – so keep in mind that you can revisit these pages as often as you like to get the full picture overtime.
Everything in Moderation
People with ADHD are attracted to extremes. They often have an all or nothing, black or white kind of attitude. Try to avoid this approach when it comes to nutrition. Eat everything in moderation and break any pattern where you eat loads of one food while completely eliminating another.
Creating a healthy ADHD diet starts with some basic guidelines
1. Above all minimize Digestive Stress
Food can either help you or harm you depending on the quality and quantity you consume. Here’s what to be aware of if you want to avoid digestive stress:
2. Go for Whole Foods versus Processed Foods – Buy Organic when Possible
In the last hundred years the food industry has thoroughly transformed itself. Most of the foods found in supermarkets today are manipulated, processed, heated, colored and stripped of their nutrients. How do these food-altering processes affect our ADHD brain and how can we get back to respecting natural food sources?
3. Mind your Acid-Alkaline Balance!
ADHD symptoms have often been associated with mineral depletion, levels of zinc and iron most commonly being out of balance. Consuming too many acids depletes the body’s minerals. Find out how and why it’s best to keep your acid-alkaline levels in check.
4. Eat High Quality Proteins
The ADHD brain needs high quality protein to keep the nervous system purring like a kitten. Why? Because the body uses the building blocks of protein – amino acids – to construct the nervous system’s messengers. If we don’t consume enough high-quality protein, our entire nervous system suffers the consequences.
5. Include Healthy Carbs
In the Paleo Universe, carbohydrates have a horrible reputation. From personal experience, I can assure you that very low-carb diets indeed bring initial benefits. However, maintaining a low-carb regime for prolonged periods of time is inadvisable because carbohydrate deficiency can cause the body to go into a stress-response. My suggestion is to consume moderate amounts of healthy carbohydrates to stabilize your insulin levels (more on that below).
6. Provide your Body with Essential Fats!
Despite many a ‘low-fat’ craze, more and more people are noticing that a diet empty of precious fats isn’t necessarily better. Learning the real story about how fats affect your health and general well being can be quite a task. Discover the basics on which fats to eat, which to avoid and why.
7. Stabilize your Insulin Levels and your Mind will Follow!
When you eat too many cabs, your body is subject to an exhaustive metabolic process as it eliminates excess glucose from the blood. However, if you skip meals or don’t eat enough carbs, you are only forcing your body to cope with another extreme. This article goes over the consequences of excess or insufficient glucose, fructose, etc.
8. Eliminate Cravings
Food cravings can seriously upset your determination to stick with a healthy ADHD diet. The best way to stop the crave cycle is to identify the root of the problem. Discover the causes of cravings and how to overcome them.
9. Always Listen to your Body!
In today’s fast-paced world, people often neglect their bodies. Find out how to change unhealthy eating habits while giving your digestive system some more love and attention.