The ADHD Food Fix

Studies show that a high-protein, low-sugar, no-additive diet combined with supplements like fish oil and zinc can help keep ADHD symptoms in check. How to get smart about nutrition.

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Stop Blood Sugar Spikes

Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — may have beneficial effects on ADD symptoms.

Protein-rich foods are used by the brain to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity. Eating protein for breakfast will help the body produce brain-awakening neurotransmitters.

Combining protein with complex carbs that are high in fiber and low in sugar will help you or your child manage ADHD symptoms better during the day, whether you're taking medication or not. The single most important thing I recommend to patients — especially parents of ADHD children — is to decrease the amount of sugar in the diet.

What many people don’t know is that eating simple processed carbohydrates, like white bread or waffles, is almost the same as eating sugar! Your body digests these processed carbs into glucose (sugar) so quickly that the effect is virtually the same as eating sugar from a spoon.

A breakfast consisting of a Pop-Tart and a glass of juice, or a waffle with syrup, causes blood sugar to rise quickly. The body responds by producing insulin and other hormones that drive sugar down to too-low levels, causing the release of stress hormones. The result? By mid-morning, you and your child are hypoglycemic, irritable, and stressed out. This can worsen ADHD symptoms or make some non-ADHD children act like they have the condition. Having a simple-carb, low-protein lunch will cause the same symptoms in the afternoon.

Instead, try breakfasts and lunches high in protein, complex carbs, and fiber — like oatmeal and a glass of milk, or peanut butter on a piece of whole grain bread. The sugars from these carbohydrates are digested more slowly, because protein, fiber, and fat eaten together result in a more gradual and sustained blood sugar release. The result? A child can concentrate and behave better at school, and an adult can make it through that long morning meeting.

Next: Go for the Fish Oil

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Cook Up an ADHD-Friendly Diet
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TAGS: ADHD Diet and Nutrition, Supplements for ADHD, Alternative Treatments for ADHD, ADHD-Friendly Meals

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