Parent Resources for ADHD

Keeping Your Child with ADHD on a Nutritious Track

Having a child with ADHD presents so many daily challenges that it can be more than a little overwhelming, and it can be even harder sometimes as a parent if you have the condition yourself. While study results on the subject are mixed and numerous, questions persist in the medical community, a common-sense consensus is growing that a proper diet favoring foods shown to boost brain health and omitting damaging foods may have the potential to mitigate ADHD symptoms in children. The following guidelines should set a template for you to follow in feeding your child things that may help improve his or her symptoms.

Protein elevates levels of the amino acid tyrosine, which is important because tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which positively impact mental alertness and mood in the right quantities. Protein's presence in the body may also prolong the single-dose effects of some ADHD medications. Meeting the protein needs of kids is as easy as including beans, eggs, lean meat, nuts, or milk in meals or snacks, depending on what they like. Furthermore, the muscle-repairing benefits of protein can improve exercise results, and exercise is universally reputed to help minimize ADHD symptoms.

Helping your little one maintain a healthy balance of natural carbohydrates is extremely important to general health and ADHD maintenance. Simple carbohydrates might not sound so healthy at first but they're actually very beneficial when found in fruits such as oranges, pears and apples largely due to the accompaniment of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grain products, starchy vegetables such as potatoes with the skin on, and legumes such as beans, soybeans and lentils. The boost to the metabolism that complex carbohydrates provide is important in helping people of all ages maintain a healthy weight, thus making exercise more appealing and productive.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to benefit all groups but certain studies suggest they may be especially good for kids with ADHD. Evidence has repeatedly pointed to the possibility that two of the three Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), may lessen inattentive behavior and hyperactivity in children. They are found in many species of fish, which generally get theirs from the algae in their diets, but they also appear in walnuts, canola oil and olive oil.

Finally, avoiding unhealthy food is just as important as encouraging the good stuff. While the research is not yet fully conclusive, hyperactivity and inattention may intensify when children consume certain artificial dyes. Encouraging your child to avoid empty, energy-spiking refined sugar can be difficult since it's included in non-diet soda, candy, and many other popular processed foods and beverages, but it's necessary because refined sugar often leads to serious long-term health issues for children with and without ADHD. Excessive amounts of saturated fat and trans fat can also have major negative effects on overall brain performance, which should encourage you to steer your child away from fast food whenever possible.