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Treating ADHD with a Healthy Diet

August 20, 2018


With summer winding down, it is possible we have all enjoyed our fair share of “sweet treats” on vacation and in our homes. While most things are good in moderation, you may have noticed how these sweet treats impacted your child’s symptoms of ADHD. Hyperactivity and sugar go hand and hand, for it is no surprise ice cream and soda will give your child the infamous “sugar rush”. 
With school approaching, now is a great time to consider how providing your child with a healthy and mindful diet will serve as a way to manage symptoms of ADHD. 
A strong diet for a child with ADHD begins with structure. Is your child eating a healthy breakfast each morning to kick-start their day? Consider a breakfast that entails whole grains. Whole grains help prevent blood sugar levels from dramatically increasing, thus helping your child avoid behavioral swings. There are multiple cereals on the shelves that provide generous servings of whole grains. 
How often is your child snacking throughout the day (and are you aware of what snacks they are eating)? Is the snack cabinet free range, or are rules established regarding permission? Ensure your child is snacking appropriately by keeping healthy snacks in your home and/or in their backpack (fruits, veggies + dip/hummus, whole grain crackers, etc.) Try and steer clear of foods and snacks with artificial food coloring, for multiple studies have linked artificial food coloring with increased hyperactivity in children with ADHD! 
When dinner rolls around, what does your child’s plate look like? As mentioned by Dr. Hallowell in the article linked below, half of your child’s plate should consist of veggies and fruit. Now, this may be no small task to have your child eat half a plate of veggies. Try setting an example by filling (and eating!) half of your plate with veggies. Another tip is to make food fun by having your child help you prepare dinner, or arranging their food in different patterns on their plate. 
Secondly, a quarter of your child’s plate should consist of protein, such as chicken, fish, beef, etc. Just like whole grains, a healthy protein is key to help prevent spikes in blood sugar. Lastly, a quarter of your child’s plate should consist of a carbohydrate (such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole grain pasta, etc.) 
Overall, it is important to be mindful of which foods influence positive and negative behavior in your child. The next time your child has a good or bad day, try and reflect on what foods they have consumed

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