Children, teens, and young adults with ADHD struggle with issues such as inattention, poor focus, impulsivity,
and physical hyperactivity throughout the day.
These symptoms can cause significant challenges at school, particularly when they are expected to sit and attend for lengthy periods of time. While there are a variety of available treatments for people with ADHD, nutrition approaches can positively impact brain function and symptom reduction. Here are five simple shifts to get started on a path of using nutrition-focused solutions to support your child’s functioning:
• Include protein with breakfast – Protein is critical to support brain alertness and steady energy throughout the day. While it may seem easier to pour a bowl of cereal or grab a piece of toast, these options do not contain much protein. Giving kids a protein-packed breakfast using items such as eggs, meat, quinoa, cheese, nuts, and seeds will help them focus and function better all morning long. You could also make a protein shake using a high-quality protein powder and ingredients such as coconut milk and fruits to boost nutritional value.
• Avoid high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars – There are numerous problems associated with sugar consumption, including irritability, inattention, and hyperactivity. Eating foods with high fructose corn syrup and/or other added sugars causes blood sugar levels to spike and crash throughout the day, which makes symptoms worse for children with ADHD. Stick to foods with lower sugar content for snacks and meals.
• Avoid artificial dyes, preservatives, and other chemicals – These ingredients have been shown to exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, as well as a host of other health conditions. There are many snack and beverage options geared toward kids that do not contain these problematic ingredients, so take time to read labels and purchase options free of these problematic colors and chemicals.
• Drink water – Water is the best beverage option for staying hydrated and focused throughout the day. Other beverage options, such as fruit juices, sports drinks, or soda, contain a host of sugars and chemicals that make attention and impulsivity problems worse. An added tip is to use a water bottle that requires your child to suck on the straw or spout to get water out. A strong sucking pattern with the mouth supports calming and focus in the brain.
• Load up on veggies and fruits – Produce contains a wide variety of important phytonutrients that support optimal health. The fiber content of fruits and veggies also helps us stay full longer and stabilizes blood sugar levels. This translates into more sustained brain function throughout the day.
Good nutrition is important for all children. For those with ADHD and related issues good nutrition is even more critical. These simple nutrition shifts can make a world of difference for children struggling to stay alert, attentive, and calm throughout the day at home and school. Start implementing these strategies with your child to see what differences you notice.