What is an ADHD Diet?
Ideally, an ADHD diet would help the brain work better and lessen symptoms of the disorder, such as restlessness or lack of focus. A diet may include the foods you eat and any nutritional supplements you may take. You may hear ADHD diets described in the following ways:
Overall nutrition for ADHD: This includes the food you eat daily. How can your overall nutrition help or hurt ADHD? The assumption is that some foods you eat may make ADHD symptoms better or worse. You may also be lacking some foods that could help make symptoms better.
Supplementation diets for ADHD: This includes adding vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients to make up for deficiencies in your diet that may contribute to ADHD symptoms. The assumption is that nutritional component that your body needs is lacking from your diet.
Elimination diets for ADHD: This involves removing foods or ingredients that are suspected of contributing to ADHD symptoms. The assumption is that you are eating something unhealthy that triggers certain behaviors or makes them worse.
What you SHOULD do:
- Eat a high-protein diet, including beans, cheese, eggs, meat, and nuts. Add protein foods in the morning and for after-school snacks, to improve concentration and possibly increase the time ADHD medications work.
- Eat fewer simple carbohydrates, such as candy, corn syrup, honey, sugar, products made from white flour, white rice, and potatoes without the skins.
- Eat more complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and some fruits (including oranges, tangerines, pears, grapefruit, apples, and kiwi). Eating complex carbs at night may aid sleep.
- Eat more omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in tuna, salmon, other cold-water white fish, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and olive and canola oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are also available in supplement form.
Sugar and ADHD
Some children do become hyperactive after eating candy or other sugary foods. No evidence indicates, however, that this is a cause of ADHD. For best overall nutrition, sugary foods should be a small part of anyone’s diet, though there is probably not much harm for a child or adult with ADHD to try eliminating sugary foods to see if symptoms improve.
Caffeine and ADHD
Some studies have shown that small amounts of caffeine may help with some ADHD symptoms in children. However, the side effects of caffeine may outweigh any potential benefit. Most ADHD experts recommend avoiding caffeine.