Managing Treatment

What to Do When ADHD Meds Ruin Your Child’s Appetite

If your child’s ADHD medication is making him a more finicky eater than ever, fine-tune his meal schedule with exercise, vitamins, and snacks to minimize weight loss and promote healthy growth.

When ADHD Medicine Supresses Appetite in ADHD Children
When ADHD Medicine Supresses Appetite in ADHD Children

Every mom knows how difficult it is, on some days, to get your child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) to eat anything, never mind having him consume foods that are nutritious. Here are some easy suggestions that will provide nutrients and calories when a child has a finicky appetite.

Feed your child nutrient-dense foods.

To up calorie count and nutrition, try serving single servings of foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, turkey, and granola.

Fill up on breakfast.

Offer your child a high-protein, high-calorie meal before medication. Protein increases alertness in many children and prevents spikes—and eventual falls—in blood sugar.

Serve liquid meals.

When your child turns up his nose at even his favorite foods, high-protein drinks, shakes, and smoothies can provide daily nutrients. Send one along to school just in case he doesn’t eat the sandwich you prepared for him.

Encourage grazing.

Eating four to five small meals a day helps your child to stay well fed, and provides extra calories if he doesn’t have much appetite. Avoid soft drinks and overly refined foods, which some studies suggest may increase hyperactivity in some children with ADHD. Fruit juice—made from 100 percent juice—and water are better bets.

Give a daily multivitamin.

If your child is a picky eater, he probably won’t be getting the day’s recommended value of vitamins and minerals. multivitamin or multimineral will ensure he does, no matter how finicky his appetite.

Limit juice intake.

Drinking more than eight ounces of juice each day may make your child feel too full to eat. In addition, many fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar and artificial color, both of which can make some children more fidgety.

Schedule outdoor play before meals.

Fresh air and physical activity spark your child’s metabolism, prompting him to feel hungry. The physical activity doesn’t have be challenging. Even a quick walk with you—or the dog—can stimulate appetite.

Try different foods.

Engage your child in new recipes to raise her interest in eating. Start with food categories he really likes—like pasta sauce or a cheesy casserole—and move, slowly, into more exotic foods.

Buy fortified foods.

Look around your grocery store for fortified milk, calcium-infused juices, or enriched breads and snack bars. They will fill in nutritional gaps on days when he doesn’t eat much.

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