Can Food Worsen ADHD?

By: Saira Malhotra

Last week, NPR reported on ADHD and its relevance to food. Since ADHD came to light, there has always been a huge emphasis on what should be removed from a child's diet. Food containing color and additives often concern parents with regards to hyperactivity or worsening a child's condition of ADHD.

When parents make dietary adjustments by removing certain candies, cookies, chips and sugary beverages, items they deem as culprits of bad behavior, there is often distress when it is met with a lack of improvement. "When [elimination] diets fail, parents can feel they've failed," says Linda Brauer, coordinator of the Grand Rapids chapter of the advocacy group Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Food containing certain ingredients contributes marginally to hyperactivity flair ups and according to Dr. Millichap, neurologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, "stimulant medications are generally very effective".

However, food does have a role to play too. Only, the focus is different. Rather than solely centering diets on what needs to be eliminated, there is a lot to gain by considering what to introduce. Here are some tips shared by experts providing for a more blended approach:

Pump the protein in the morning - Children with ADHD are prone to burning a lot of calories since they are often over stimulated and yet their medication suppresses hunger. The result: An irritable 'hungry' child. A breakfast with proteins, such as peanut butter or eggs and complex carbohydrates will keep the child feeling satiated throughout the day.

Avoid simple carbohydrates and processed foods - A study conducted in Australia demonstrated that diets that are dense in sugar, processed foods, red meats and high dairy fat result in higher levels of ADHD.

Take fish oil and Omega 3 Supplements - According to the report, opinions are divided on the benefits of Omage 3's on ADHD, however regardless of the condition, it is healthy for the heart and can be taken by everyone.

Photo: Carl_C

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