ADHD Videos

5 Things Kids with ADHD Should NOT Eat

Could a high-protein, low-sugar, no-additive diet plan can actually help your child manage ADHD symptoms? Find out in this video.

Red dye #40. Gluten and casein. Refined sugar. Dairy. Artificial preservatives. Each of these may lead to increase hyperactivity, decreased focus, and other health and behavior complications in some children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). But each child is different, and what exacerbates symptoms in one may not cause any discernible difference in another.

Here are some of the most common dietary triggers for ADHD symptoms; work with your child’s doctor to determine the best way to test your child’s sensitivities to these five.

5 Things Children with ADHD Should NOT Eat

1. Artificial Flavoring and Preservatives

Roughly 5 percent of children with ADHD are sensitive to chemicals in food. For these kids, the Feingold Diet — or another like it — may improve symptoms. That means NO:

  • Artificial food colors
  • Flavorings
  • Sweeteners
  • Preservatives
  • Salicylates

2. Sugar

Processed sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides quick bursts of energy and burns out quickly.

Kids with ADHD are particularly susceptible to bouts of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity after consuming it.

Sugar hides in various disguises:

  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum
  • Sucrose

3. Food Dyes

Artificial food colors may lead to hyperactivity, irritability, and sleep disorders in some kids with ADHD. Experts recommend eliminating Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #6, and sodium benzoate, then watching for behavioral changes. The following natural food colorings are OK:

  • Annatto
  • Anthocyanin
  • Beta carotene
  • Caramel
  • Carmine
  • Chlorophyll
  • Paprika
  • Red beets
  • Saffron
  • Turmeric

4. Pesticides

Dr. Sandy Newmark, founder of the Center for Pediatric Integrative Medicine, recommends that anyone with ADHD limit pesticide exposure as much as possible.

Buy organic food whenever possible and avoid the “dirty dozen” with the highest levels of pesticides.

5. Trigger Foods

Children can have a sensitivity to certain foods — dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, and citrus are common culprits — that can exacerbate symptoms.

Try eliminating these foods, and watch behavior carefully.

4 Comments & Reviews

  1. Great article, I agree mostly! We did this but I have to say, in our case, annatto and caramel color are most definitely NOT safe!! We get intense behaviours from them.

  2. Agree witty comment above m. Annetto, known in Australia as 160b or even “no artificial colours or flavours” is absolutely not ok for MANY kids who have ADHD and food sensitivities. And speaking of food sensitivities And naturally occurring flavours as per Feingold type diet, amines and glutamine can be equally as triggering as salicates but each person needs to find out what it is for them personally through an elimination diet.

  3. The Feingold diet is not effective and sugar doesn’t cause hyperactivity. These are myths. / /

    Artificial food dyes don’t affect people with ADHD more than other people, AFCs are rarely responsible alone for changes in behavior, the changes in behavior are very small, and the results of studies are very mixed.

    This is some nasty, unscientific writing that scaremongers more than provides facts. Disappointing.

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