How Good Nutrition Can Manage Your Child’s ADHD

There is no “miracle” cure for ADHD, but giving your child a well-balanced, nutritious diet goes a long toward helping him improve his focus and curb behavior problems. Just as most kids’ behaviors are impacted by food choices, a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder becomes more patient and less impulsive when eating more of certain foods, and decreasing others.

Not Sure Where to Start? Try the Elimination Method

With the elimination plan, you “start over” with a base of simple, nutritious foods, such as chicken, vegetables and non-sugary fruits. Every two weeks, you can add back one of the food categories that can be problematic. If you see a sudden, negative change in behavior, you’ll know that these ingredients should be avoided — or at least kept for special occasions.

The Power of Protein

The best way to set your ADHD child up for a more focused day at school? A protein-rich breakfast that’s also low on carbs. Alertness is bolstered by high protein foods like peanut butter energy bars, cheesy eggs, yogurt topped with nuts, sausage or bacon.

Give Omega-3s a Standing O!

Omega-3 fatty acids are something everyone can cheer about, but especially children struggling with ADHD. The crucial nutrient boosts brain function. That benefit allows for sharper focus, better perspective on stressful situations, and improved sleep. Try to serve your child three or four servings of tuna, shrimp, salmon or pollock each week. If he’s not a big fish fan, introduce walnuts, flax seeds and/or chia seeds.

Halting That Sugar Rush

There were no Copyscape matches found. It’s hard to predict in any kid — let alone those with attention deficit problems — whether sugar will cause out-of-control energy levels. But there’s no question that a meal that’s almost completely made of sweets will lead to a crash later. That’s true even if the sweet foods are raisins or other fruits. And because research indicates that aspartame can be especially damaging to people with ADHD, artificially sweetened foods should also be avoided. If you have to serve dried fruit or desserts, make sure protein and vitamin-rich foods balance out those sugar-spiking treats.

Subtract the Additives

Artificial ingredients can wreak havoc on kids with ADHD. Studies show that added dyes and coloring dramatically spike the incidents of hyperactivity in the ADHD children who consumed them. In particular, watch out for those unrealistically-hued red and yellow snacks, cereals and drinks! In terms of other artificial ingredients, avoid hot dogs, deli meats and other foods that have nitrates, MSG and sodium benzoate on the labels.