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Is Your ADHD Brain Hard-Wired for Weight Gain?

You’re not imagining things — it is harder for you to lose weight and keep it off. Here, learn about the neurological and psychological symptoms of ADHD conspiring against you, plus strategies for healthier eating that you can begin today.

9 Comments: Is Your ADHD Brain Hard-Wired for Weight Gain?

  1. As a mental health professional, this article is not helpful. It should be taken off this site. While the first half of the article describes some of the ADHD struggles that are accurate, the solutions are so off-base, it’s going to have the impact on people with ADHD as one more professional telling me how I’m not trying hard enough.” The solutions posed are superficial at best. People with ADHD can historically create goals, once they harness the elusive motivation to do so. That’s not the hard part that sabotages their success. It’s the inability to keep a system in place once the newness has worn off (about 2-3 weeks for many, but it varies by person), or b/c their working memory and short-term memory prevent them from remembering the system (inadvertently sabotaging), or b/c it’s a bad neurotransmitter day/week/month (even with stimulants or other meds) and it’s just not going to happen (can’t even force it), or they haven’t found an effective way to solidify the habit into a routine that works for them (habit stacking or habit chaining work well for this group). And these are only a few of the reasons that a person with ADHD struggles to implement the neurotypical solutions of “make a plan and you’re golden! Set a reminder and you’ll succeed! Have goals!” … yeah, those aren’t the crux of the problems (or cruxes … they vary and are far more complex than the neurotypical solutions presented). Please vet your articles better before posting to avoid unintentionally hurting your target audience due to mental health professional author’s ignorance.

  2. I think a tip that’s worth adding is to find an accountability person. Most of us still fail even when we have our goals in mind because we lack that self-motivation that will get us up off the couch, in the car, and in the gym. I think a good way of overcoming this trait is having a workout buddy or investing in a fitness trainer, nutritionist or some kind of program that includes both. We’re more likely to actually work out and be healthy if we have someone pushing us, keeping us accountable, and informing us exactly what exercises to be doing and exactly what we should be eating…especially if we’re paying for it. Hope this helps!

  3. One thing the article doesn’t mention is memory. Many people with ADHD have poor short term memory problems. I tend to overeat because I can’t remember x amount of chips, so I eat even more! One help is to eat slowly. I don’t pick up a hand full of chips off the plate, just 1 at a time. I try to chew each one thoroughly and swallow before taking another one. This helps a lot! All eating should be done this way, if you’re on a diet. You will eat less because you will feel full before you have eaten as much as it usually takes.

  4. I thought this article was helpful. It gave me the ‘why’ to a lot of my weight problems and eating impulses. I knew that my medication caused me to gain weight, but I didn’t know that I was “hard wired” this way. As a kid my parents always ate healthy and controlled my portions by simply serving my plate and “cutting me off”(especially with carbs-my weakness). However, when I went off to college there was no mom to say, “Ok. That’s enough.” and the dining hall was an all you can eat buffet! So impulse control went out the window. Not to make excuses, but another factor was timing. I only had a short amount of time to get in, eat, and get to my next class. Often, the easiest and quickest item was not the salad bar, but burgers and fries. I quickly gained a ton of weight and at the age of 26 I am still struggling to break those habits and 1) eat better and 2) eat less. Now that I know that it’s not just me (thanks to this article in particular) I know that it’s ok to NOT listen to my body when it tells me that “Yes, you’ve had 3 servings of pasta, but you still want more!!” I know now that my receptors are off. I have been trying to eat better with the help of my family and my boyfriend (who does the cooking!) I try to use smaller plates so I “fill” up my plate with less food to start off with and drinking more water throughout the day especially before meals. I know this is a long post, but it’s just nice to know that it’s not just me or my struggle, I am not alone.

  5. This article is not very helpful. Goals don’t work for me because I never can keep any motivation, and I can plan all I want but I won’t be able to cook the food when the time comes due to various reasons. I have sleep apnea and sleep all the time (with a sleep machine) but I am still tired a lot…I am getting my thyroid checked again since I do have issues but this is just not very helpful at all….

    1. Hey! I posted a comment that addresses the first part of this…but in terms of cooking, I highly recommend subscribing to a service like HelloFresh or Blue Apron. The ingredients and recipes are shipped to you and all you have to do is follow the steps. It’s easy and I find the whole concept of, following the instructions and rewarding yourself with a beautiful and delicious meal that YOU crafted, kinda fun and sort of like a challenge (and we all know, we love a good challenge!). A friend of mine has their subscription set up for once or twice a month so that it’s not a huge expense. The portions are usually big enough that you’ll have left overs.

      If you’re feeling tired frequently, it may not have anything to do with sleep, but could be a result of what you’re consuming or dehydration. I recommend seeing a nutritionist or even just watching a few YouTube videos about how certain foods effect your body. If you’re sleeping a lot, and you know it’s not the sleep apnea because the machine is supplementing you the oxygen you’re lacking, but you’re still tired, it most likely related to the kind of food you’re eating or lack of water!

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