Ask the Experts

ADHD, OCD and Food-Hoarding Tendencies?

“Our 13-year-old son has ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and takes a stimulant. Now he’s started to hide food in his room. What should we do?”

Observe your son’s eating patterns for the next week. If he eats a full breakfast (before his ADHD medication kicks in), and then feels hungry after the medication wears off in the evening, odds are, the stimulant is suppressing his appetite, and he’s hiding his lunch so you won’t get mad at him for not eating it. If so, ask his doctor about lowering his dose or trying a non-stimulant medication.

If you don’t observe such a pattern, your son’s behavior is likely a symptom of OCD, which is known to cause sneaking and hoarding of food. In this case, the same solution — lowering his dose or switching to a non-stimulant — is probably the best approach, as stimulant medications have been known to make OCD symptoms worse.