Does eliminating sugar help?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  kelly 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • #40157


    This discussion was originally started by user cmullen17 in ADDitude’s now-retired community. The ADDitude editors have included it here to encourage more discussion.


    I have a son with ADHD and he is on medication, but I wanted to hear some other parents’ experiences with eliminating certain foods from their diets as a way of controlling some of the symptoms.

    Has anyone eliminated sugar or processed foods and found a difference? What about dairy? Any tips would be great!! Thank you!

  • #40710

    Allison Russo

    This reply was originally posted by user John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

    Dumping sugar is a great idea for many reasons. Brain function is one.

  • #40712

    Allison Russo

    This reply was originally posted by user adhdmomma in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

    Research has not proven a link between sugar and behavior.

    However, a healthy lifestyle is always beneficial, so I definitely agree that reducing sugar intake is ideal.

    What is most important in a diet for individuals with ADHD is a good amount of protein, and maintaining a fairly level blood sugar (complex carbs paired with protein). This prevents spikes in energy and crashes:

    ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #40715

    Allison Russo

    This reply was originally posted by user Lfp in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

    Penny, I am so surprised with your background that you are saying sugar & behavior are not connected. I can tell you that my 12 yr. old adopted Grandson can have a donut or candy and within 30 min. is “motor mouth”, jumping around, pesting, etc. Not at all his common behavior. I also watch any processed foods and he knows how to read labels and count carbs. Others have witnessed this behavior and are too aware of his behavior on sweets. If he had cookies for lunch his teacher would be calling me about disrupting the class.

  • #40717

    Allison Russo

    This reply was originally posted by user adhdmomma in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

    Hi @LFP!

    There are many, many studies that have shown no correlation to sugar and behavior.

    That said, of course there are some individuals who are much more susceptible. And, just about anyone who binges on sugar will certainly be bouncing off the walls.My son used to sneak into cookies in the wee hours of the morning and eat as much as half a box at a time. We could always tell when that happened because he was 90 miles an hour.

    I was simply pointing out the science, and what’s true for most. Americans eat far, far too many sweets. A child should have less than 10 grams a day, and there’s 12 grams (I think it is) in one 12 oz can of soda. Just from a health standpoint, sugar should be minimal.

    Avoiding all artificial and processed ingredients is best for all of us, but especially kids with ADHD who are often more sensitive to these things. My son can’t have red #40—a red Gatorade for him is like Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde. It’s brutal and ugly. We realized the correlation the 3rd time he had it, and that was his last, well over 5 years ago.

    ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #71259


    Before I knew my son (now age 8) had ADHD I noticed how sugar affected him dramatically — and he was only 2 years old at the time. Fast forward to age 6 and we eliminated dairy and gluten from his diet and saw a dramatic difference in irritability and mood instability in eight days. EIGHT DAYS! He’s been gluten- and dairy-free for 19 months now and we can tell almost immediately when he’s eaten dairy or gluten — his behaviors are through the roof for about 3 days. There’s definitely something to it for some people. Science hasn’t made a connection between diet and conditions like ADHD and ASD, but anecdotally I know one exists for some people, but clearly not all.

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