ADHD Diet Woes: My McDonald's Downfall

This live-in-the-moment, right-here right-now ADHDer doesn’t stand a chance against the bright lights, flashy signs, and mouth-watering deals at fast-food joints.
ADHD College Blog | posted by Rebeka Covell
The ADDitude college blogger writes about surviving college and succeeding in school with ADHD

McDonald's is the arch-enemy of my ADHD diet.

Picture this scenario: I got up at 6am to get ready for work. I worked all day, stopping for lunch around noon. By the time I leave work and sit in traffic all the way home I have about 10 minutes to change into comfier shoes and go to my next job until 10pm.

At 10pm, when I finally get out of work, I’m starving because the only thing I’ve had since lunch was a soda at work. As I drive out of the mall there’s a big yellow sign with an arrow pointing toward a window where I can get delicious food in less than a minute. I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s not healthy, I know it’s a waste of money… but it looks sooo good and I’m sooo hungry! By the time I get home half the food’s already gone and I’m in a much better mood. But by the time all the food’s gone I’m starting to feel guilty.

Fast food and ADHD really don’t mix. The bright lights, the huge arrow, the pictures of mouth-wateringly good hamburgers and chicken fingers and crispy french fries; it’s enough to draw anyone in, but an impulsive, live-in-the-moment, right-here right-now, ADHDer – we don’t stand a chance!

I’ve read that greasy, salty, sugary foods only magnify the symptoms of ADHD and that fresh foods can actually help with focus. Lately, I’ve been trying different techniques to avoid the magnetic pull of the drive-thru window.

First, I tried going a different route on my way home to avoid driving by any fast food places at all. It works sometimes, but only if I can convince myself there’s something else to eat that I love waiting at home.

Second, I tried not bringing any cash smaller than a $10 bill with me. If I happen to have a few $5s in my purse I don’t think twice about throwing one away for some instant gratification fries. But if I have to break a $10 or $20 bill I’m more likely to say forget it, I can get something for free at home.

The only problem with this technique is that sometimes it’s hard to remember to take all my small bills out of my wallet before I go to work at night.

The only trick that really works to avoid my distraction is calling ahead to make a reservation at the best restaurant in town – my kitchen table. If I’m getting out of work at 10pm I sometimes call home around 9:30 to tell my mom that I’m starving, and ask very nicely if she wouldn’t mind heating up a plate for me. If I know there’s a meal set aside for me (even if I have to microwave it for a minute or two) I don’t even think about all those unhealthy choices that I drive past on my way home.

My hyperfocus blinders go on – eyes on the prize; that delicious, healthy, home cooked meal waiting on the table.

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