ADHD Diet: 5 Foods You Should Eat & Avoid

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that causes difficulty paying attention and controlling impulse behaviors. Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD often begin and childhood and continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms may include:

  • Fidgeting and squirming when seated
  • Becoming easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
  • Being forgetful in daily activities
  • Being in constant motion
  • Having trouble waiting his or her turn

There is no cure for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The condition is most commonly treated with medication to help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. However, food may play a large role in managing symptoms as well. If you or someone you know has ADHD, it might be time to consider an ADHD diet.

ADHD Foods To Avoid

1. Sugar

A diet full of processed sugar can lead to numerous health problems, including obesity and diabetes. When it comes to the ADHD diet, it’s even more important to eliminate it. Sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to hyperactive behavior. When the blood sugar spikes back down, focus levels drop.

2. Gluten

If your body is sensitive to gluten, the breads, pastries and desserts you’re eating could be affecting your brain functions. Gluten can trigger hyperactivity or inattentiveness if you have an intolerance. Try an elimination diet to see how your body reacts to gluten.

3. Dairy

Dairy is also a common allergen for many people. If your body is sensitive to dairy, it could be affecting your brain function and causing symptoms such as brain fog and irritability. Try an elimination diet or see a health care professional to get tested for a dairy allergy.

4. Food Coloring and Dyes

Research has shown a possible link between food dyes and hyperactivity. Even for those who aren’t following an ADHD diet, these chemicals can be extremely harmful to your health. Stay away from chemical dyes including Orange B, Citrus Red No.2, FD&C Blue No.1 and No.2, and FD&C Yellow No.5 and No.6.

5. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners pose many of the same health threats as sugar. Research has shown thatchemical sweeteners affect physiology, which may lead to changes that harm the brain. An ADHD diet should steer clear of artificial sweeteners.

ADHD Foods To Eat

1. Omega-3 Foods

Good fats like Omega-3’s are essential for a healthy body and a healthy mind. Studies have shown that Omega-3’s help control behavior and improve memory. Eat foods like avocados, walnuts, chia seeds and dark leafy green vegetables. Eliminate trans fats and fried fats from your diet, like those found in junk food and fast food.

2. Iron-Rich Foods

According to a 2004 study, iron deficiencies in children may contribute to ADHD symptoms. Adding iron-rich foods to your diet can help control hyperactive symptoms. Eat plenty of spinach, lentils and sesame seeds to get your fill of iron.

3. High-Protein Foods and Snacks

Protein has the ability to boost focus and concentration by balancing blood sugar levels. It also gives your brain the building blocks it needs to maintain brain health. Add foods like quinoa, lentils, beans, nut butter and green leafy vegetables to your diet to stock up on protein.

4. Probiotic Foods

Research has shown that brain health and gut health are connected. Keeping your gut healthy by adding probiotics to your diet can help keep your brain working properly as well. Try kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.

5. Foods High In B Vitamins

B Vitamins are known to help reduce ADHD symptoms. They regulate carbohydrate metabolism and help the central nervous system function properly. Eat foods such as sweet corn, legumes, green leafy vegetables, peas and spinach to make sure you’re getting B vitamins in your diet.


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