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- Is ADHD real and does it really matter?
- ADHD myths moms want you to know that bother them and the facts
- ADHD vs. ADD: What is the difference?
- Out of control ADHD child? Tips on how to manage behavior
- How do I take care of myself when I have an ADHD child?
- Manage your ADHD child’s behavior with these proven techniques
- How your child’s diet affects ADHD
- Managing ADHD child’s behavior
- Is ADHD a learning disability?
- Establishing rules for your ADHD child
- ADHD in girls: Why is it missed?
- ADHD child is not coping at school: What should I do?
- Should I medicate my child if they have been diagnosed with ADHD?
Does your child eat too much sugar? Do you ever wonder if there is a link between what your child eats and their ADHD symptoms? If you notice there is a correlation between what your child eats and how he or she acts, you aren’t wrong. Anecdotal and some scientific evidence shows that adjusting your child’s diet may have a positive effect on their behavior. Four moms of ADHD kids share their thoughts on how diet affects their kids.
Diet is linked to ADHD symptoms
It was like a lightbulb went on in my head when I finally made the connection. My oldest child loved Swedish Fish, but within half an hour of eating this favorite treat, his energy level was at its max and he couldn’t follow simple directions. Although this candy is great for many kids, it seems mine has an adverse reaction to red dyes and sugar. There is evidence linking diet and ADHD symptoms, but individual results of restricting a child’s diet will vary greatly. Researchers recommend offering a whole food diet with few processed foods and plenty of micronutrients and omega-3s.
Food allergies and food sensitivities may also play a role in adverse behavior. A food diary and an elimination diet, with the help of your child’s health care provider, may offer insight into what specific foods your child should avoid.
But the diet-ADHD connection isn’t conclusive
Science has not drawn a conclusive clinical connection between diet and ADHD. However, experience has taught many parents and caregivers who care for or have cared for children with ADHD that certain diet changes can help manage or even eliminate the symptoms of ADHD. Sugar, gluten, and dairy have been found experientially by parents and caregivers as major culprits in exacerbating the symptoms of ADHD.
For example, about 14 years ago, I cared for a 4-year-old boy who had all the earmarks of having ADHD. Doctors were pressuring his mom to put him on Ritalin, but she did not want to do that. When I started caring for him, I took him off all refined sugars during his first week with me. At the end of that week, his mother came to pick him up from my house and said, “What did you do to my son? I have not seen him this calm since he was an infant.” My answer was that I took him off refined sugar.
Another child I know would get not only hyper but mean when she got sugar and dairy. My son who is autistic, though not ADHD, but could well be ADD, has improved focus and mood whenever I take him off gluten and processed foods. Do not be afraid to try some diet changes with your child with ADHD to see which change improves his or her condition the most.
Artificial colorants in ADHD diet can be a trigger
There is good evidence that indicates that your child’s diet may affect their ADHD or ADD symptoms. Research has shown that artificial colorants can be a trigger for some patients and therefore in some cases removing foods containing artificial coloring and preservatives from their ADHD diet may have a positive effect on their symptoms. The addition of omega-3 fatty acids and a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement have also proven to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms in some cases. It is suggested that following a balanced ADHD diet menu rich in real foods, avoiding common food allergens (gluten, wheat, corn, and soy), and reducing sugar and processed foods may assist in controlling symptoms of ADHD in many instances.
A well-balanced diet for ADHD kids is what your child needs
All kids need a well-balanced diet. There are a number of things that are held up to be great for kids with ADHD, and I am sure you have heard them all, and more. There are a few special diets for ADHD kids out there, claiming to be your next lifesaver and cure, and as tempting as it sounds, when you are feeling desperate, please be cautious. There is little evidence to support any of these special diets or claims. Reducing sugar, eating wholesome food, and including a balance of all food groups, will not only help your ADHD child but all children.