Balanced Meals, Better Behavior: Treating ADHD with Diet

Changing your child's diet can be an effective alternative ADHD treatment -- choosing the right foods can improve symptoms.


Filed Under: Alternative Treatments for ADHD, ADHD Diet and Nutrition, ADHD-Friendly Meals, Homework and Test Help
Nutrition and ADHD: How choosing the right foods can improve your child's ADHD symptoms.

Choosing the right foods -- or cutting back on the wrong ones -- may help prevent symptoms from swinging out of control.

   
 

Alternative ADHD Treatments

 
   

Hyperactivity has long been associated with sugary sodas and cheeks full of candy. It is no surprise, then, that food seems to play a major role -- good and bad -- in attention deficit disorder (ADD / ADHD). Choosing the right foods -- or cutting back on the wrong ones -- may be an alternative ADHD treatment that can help prevent symptoms from swinging out of control.

“The role of nutrition in the treatment of any chronic condition is important,” says Helen Rasmussen, Ph.D., a research dietician at Tufts University.

Faye Berger Mitchell, a registered dietician from Bethesda, Maryland, has a nine-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD five years ago. While her daughter takes stimulant medicine to control her ADHD, Mitchell concluded that a pill is not enough.

She finds that when her daughter eats a well-balanced ADD-friendly diet, including vegetables, carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein, her behavior tends to be more consistently under control.

SIGN ME UP
for a free copy of...

The ADDitude Guide to Alternative ADHD Treatment

“The biggest challenge is to get my daughter to eat protein,” she says. Protein is key, says Mitchell, because it can prevent surges in blood sugar, which may increase hyperactivity. For Mitchell, something as simple as slipping a little chicken or lean beef into every meal (and even into snacks) has made a difference for her daughter.

Dr. Edward Hallowell advises all of his patients to think about their plates when preparing a meal. Half of the plate, he recommends, should be filled with fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with a protein, and one-fourth with carbohydrates. This combination is a balanced diet, and it may control swings in behavior caused by hunger, surges in blood sugar, or a shortfall of a particular nutrient.

In addition to the balanced plate, Hallowell advocates eating several servings of whole grains each day to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and then plummeting and cutting back on foods that contain dyes and excess sugar. Several studies have suggested that artificial food coloring and sugar may cause increased hyperactivity in some children with ADHD.



This article comes from a special report on complementary therapies in the December/January 2008 issue of ADDitude.

Order the back issue to read the entire report, and SUBSCRIBE NOW to ensure you don't miss another issue!


What do you think of this article? Share your comments on www.ADDConnect.com, ADDitude's community site. Check out the new ADHD Medication User Reviews and the ADHD Adults Support Group. Your fellow ADDers want to hear from you!

Privacy
 
Copyright © 1998 - 2013 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 39 W. 37th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10018