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. Giving your child protein for breakfast will help his body produce brain-awakening neurotransmitters.
Combining protein with complex carbs that are high in fiber and low in sugar will help your child manage ADHD symptoms better during the day, whether he’s taking medication or not. The single most important thing I recommend to parents is to decrease the amount of sugar in their ADHD child's diet.
What many people don’t know is that eating simple processed carbohydrates, like white bread or waffles, is almost the same as feeding your child 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, a child is 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 serving 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.
Next: Go for the Fish Oil
This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of ADDitude.
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