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Catering to an ADHD Appetite

ADHD medications can suppress appetite, but good nutrition is so important to treating attention deficit. So I let Natalie eat standing up, and top off her waffles with ice cream. What do you do to pack in the calories?

“I had ice cream for breakfast,” Natalie announced to Dr. Halbur, our pediatrician.

I about died! The little tattletale!

“That’s okay with me,” Dr. Halbur answered, showing no sign of shock or indignation.


Natalie takes Ritalin to treat her ADHD, and Tuesday morning she had her twice-yearly med check appointment. Since ADHD meds can reduce a child’s appetite, Dr. Halbur pays particular attention to tracking changes in Natalie’s height and weight. Today, the growth chart showed that Natalie had grown quite a bit taller, but her weight was lagging behind. Tell me about it! I’m the one who tries (and fails!) to find pants to fit Little Miss Skinny Butt Long Legs!

“Her appetite is actually pretty good,” I said. “She just doesn’t like to take the time to eat. She loves fruits and vegetables, but she won’t eat much meat.”

“Load her up with calories,” came the familiar refrain. “Peanut butter if she won’t eat enough meat. Nuts are good — put them into a trail mix for snacks. They’re full of nutrients, and they also contain fat. Lots of dairy products — cheese, yogurt. I want her to take a multivitamin with iron if she won’t eat much meat.”

[Free Guide to Delicious (and ADHD-Friendly!) Eating]

And to Nat directly, “Natalie, I want you to eat as much as you can at lunch.”

I let Natalie stand up to eat, rather than trying to force her to sit in her chair. I leave food out so she can “graze.” And I really do let her have ice cream for breakfast, along with multi-grain waffles slathered in butter.

Any tricks and tips to share, moms? How do you help your child with ADHD load up on fat and calories?

(Dr. Halbur, will you be my doctor, please?)

[The Dessert Solution for ADHD Nutrition]