Good nutrition is key to maintain our body functioning at its highest levels and it can make a significant difference in the lives of children with ADHD.
Why? Because food is the fuel that helps the brain to stay healthy and in shape.
This is vital when having a child with any type of Learning Disability because certain foods affect behavior, making our kids even more hyperactive and sometimes even grumpy and irritable.
Use this simple guide of food tips for ADHD students.
Then you might be wondering, what do I need to reduce –- or remove — from my child’s diet?
Stay away from:
1. Foods high in added sugar (refined sugar)
The sweetness of an apple is ok, but giving your child lollipops, candies, chocolates, cookies, ketchup, flavored juices, sodas, ice cream, fruit jam, pastries, etc. is not a great idea, especially if the child has sleeping problems .
Refined carbs — not only can a diet high in sugar lead to diabetes; refined carbs such as corn syrup, drink powders, sugary cereals, gummies, dried fruit, rice cakes, hash brown potatoes, French fries and pizza can get you there, too. In fact, all food made with white flours and/or sugar is considered as refined carbohydrates.
2. Foods high in fat (saturated fat)
Any foods containing hydrogenated oils, butter, cheese, processed meats, and whipped cream are seriously dangerous for your child’s health in general, and we should also remember that overweight or obesity can lead to high blood pressure.
Instead of these, choose:
1. Essential fatty acids
Studies show that kids with ADHD often have an EFA deficiency. This fat is needed to help the brain store information efficiently and helps your brain to receive clearer messages. Some foods rich in fatty acids are: salmon, fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, walnuts, fresh basil, broccoli, spinach, beans.
2. Foods containing vitamin B
Vitamin B improves neural activity and reduces stress. Some foods rich in Vitamin B are: soy products, fortified cereals, chicken, tuna, leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.) and potatoes.
3. Food high in protein
Protein sustains the energy in the body; it helps kids with ADHD to even out their energy throughout the day. Small portions of protein instead of caffeine based products or beverages will help them to not feel tired and to go to sleep right on time.
Some foods rich in protein are: turkey breast, fish, lean beef, tofu, beans, eggs, yogurt, nuts and seeds (pumpkin, squash, watermelon, peanuts, and almonds).
How do I change my child’s diet overnight?
Often times, kids are excited to try a new flavor, a new snack or beverage, but switching from processed foods to natural foods might be a long process. They might not like the new flavors, so you have to be creative and add interesting flavors to what they think is boring food.
For example, start by replacing ice cream for some low fat yogurt and fruits, a bar of chocolate for a serving of peanuts and almonds, processed chips for some potato chips made at home with canola oil.
There are numerous recipes to help you in this process, remember to experiment with flavors first.