Officially, most medical researchers state that changing your diet will not affect your ADHD symptoms. Most of these researchers don’t have ADHD. They may be right that diet changes don’t affect the ADHD symptoms directly. However, evidence shows that changing your diet can help with factors that affect the severity of our ADHD symptoms.
One researcher has identified a direct link between diet and the severity of ADHD symptoms. Dr. Lidy Pelsser is a researcher at the ADHD Research Center in the Netherlands. She did a study on children with ADHD and their diets. Children were put on a strict diet then taken off of it. Dr. Pelsser reported that parents and teachers saw a remarkable change in the severity of the children’s ADHD symptoms.
NPR reported that Dr. Pelsser explains the relationship by saying, “The skin is affected, but a lot of people get eczema because of a latex allergy or because they are eating a pineapple or strawberries.” Dr. Pelsser explains the outcome of the study by saying, “After the diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior,” she says. No longer were they easily distracted or forgetful, and the temper tantrums subsided.” (NPR, 2011, Study: Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs)
Stay Away From Caffeine
If you have ADHD then there are many reasons to take caffeine out of your diet. Caffeine reacts with any ADHD medication that is stimulant based. Stimulant based ADHD medications include Adderall, Ridelin, etc. These medications work by stimulating your system. When you mix them with caffeine then the effects are “supercharged”. Early on, I made this mistake while taking Adderall. My heart rate shot up to 170 to 180 and stayed there. The maximum safe heart rate for my age is 186. This put my heart in a constant dangerous state.
Caffeine also adds to anxiety. Caffeine causes a person to be jittery and anxious. Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms with ADHD. Caffeine can take ADHD’s anxiety symptoms and cause them to be worse. Why would a person with anxiety want to take something that makes anxiety worse?
Eating a diet rich in protein has multiple affects that help ADHD. This should include lean proteins such as fish, chicken, lean beef, and lean pork. ADHD symptoms are caused by some areas of the brain producing more chemicals then others. Protein helps our brains neurotransmitters to produce more chemicals. This helps alleviate the chemical deficit.
Our bodies also use protein to stabilize our blood sugar. Blood sugar lows can cause us to have headaches, become irritable, and cause trouble controlling our temper. High blood sugar levels can cause us to be anxious, have an excess energy, have trouble paying attention, etc. Both of these conditions mimic a lot of our ADHD symptoms. By keeping our blood sugar on an even keel then we help lessen our ADHD symptoms.
Eat Balanced Meals
Everything must be done in moderation. A balanced diet helps control blood sugar, body fat; all our body systems work better. Our diets should include vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and protein. Several parents of children with ADHD and adults with adhd have seen their symptoms lessen with a balanced diet.
ADDitude magazine states, “Ned Hallowell, M.D., founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City, advises all of his ADHD patients to think about their plates when preparing a meal. Half of the plate, he recommends, should be filled with fruits or vegetables, one-fourth with a protein, and one-fourth with carbohydrates.” (ADDitude magazine, 2013)
Use Supplements for Deficiencies
Today, everyone is leading busy lives. Even our children go to school, after school events, plays, band recitals, etc. Adults have to balance ever increasing demands at work, time with their family, getting children to and from school functions, and still try to watch their diet. This makes it difficult to get all the necessary fruits and vegetables into our diets.
Supplements make it easy to get the required nutrients. A daily multi-vitamin provides 100% of the daily amounts of a variety of vitamins and minerals. This is a great place to start. Fish oil has also been found to help with ADHD symptoms. Look at your individual diet. What foods are you not eating enough of? Then find a multi-vitamin that will give you those nutrients.
Eliminate Foods One at a Time
It can be easy to find out if a food is increasing your ADHD symptoms. Simply start by identifying foods that may be worsening your ADHD symptoms. Possible culprits can be caffeine or sugar as listed above. Others may be MSGs, yellow or red food coloring. Pick one thing such as caffeine then eliminate it from your diet for a couple of weeks. The first few days will be necessary to get it out of your system. If your ADHD symptoms get better then eliminate that food from your diet. You can repeat this process for sugar or other foods to see which ones help you.
Keep Educating Yourself
ADHD research has increased multiple times over in the last 20 to 30 years. Researchers are constantly learning more about our ADHD symptoms, their causes, and how to lessen their effects on our lives. Personal research helps you stay up to date on new advances. This is not as daunting a task as it sounds. There are many websites, blogs, and even a social network dedicated to ADHD.
Diet affects almost every part of our lives. Poor diet can increase our stress levels. It can cause our bodies to be missing crucial vitamins and minerals. All of our body systems suffer including our brains. Our diets can either increase our ADHD symptoms or decrease them. Eliminating such things as caffeine, sugar, and yellow or red food coloring can have very positive symptoms on our health. As Dr. Pelsser found, they can even eliminate symptoms altogether. Use the elimination method to identify those foods that increase your symptoms. As with any health changes, if you have diabetes or other health conditions then consult your doctor before making any large changes.