Foods to Feed and Avoid for Children with ADHD

Foods to Feed and Avoid for Children with ADHD

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a neuro-development disorder with no known cure. Children who suffer ADHD find it hard to succeed academically because they have difficulties in concentrating during lessons or sitting at one place. Symptoms like forgetfulness, excessive fidgeting, difficulty in paying attention, and poor listening skills can make life a challenge for a child with ADHD. Successfully managing these symptoms of ADHD can help children develop basic life skills and build their confidence. Also Read: 10 Effective ways to handle a hyperactive child

Food and ADHD:

There is no concrete evidence that food can affect a person with ADHD. However, research suggests that there can be a change in behaviour by avoiding certain food items and eating certain ones. For a child with ADHD, behavioural therapy and medicines are supposed to lessen the effect. A change in diet can also bring a lot of difference. Certain foods which have low levels of iron can worsen the symptoms of ADHD. Elimination of those foods and incorporating good food can help a child deal with ADHD. Here is a list of the foods to avoid:

1. Avoid food additives

These consist of preservatives, artificial colour and artificial flavours in packaged food which leads to an increase in hyperactivity of a child. Additives like mono sodium glutamate or MSG, Sodium benzoate are commonly found in packaged food. Food colouring, especially red and yellow colours are a source of increase in hyperactivity. Foods like chips and 2 minute noodles are all loaded with additives.
Food to feed: Fresh and organic ingredients should be the key factor of any meal. Kids crave unhealthy pizzas and chips, so, you really need to keep a check on what they are consuming. Buy fresh pizza bases or make them at home. To kill the urge of junk food and packaged chips, make potato chips or crisps at home.

2. Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners

We often notice that even children who do not suffer from ADHD can become hyperactive after consuming sugary foods. ‘Sugar rush’ is the term that can be used for children who have just consumed something sweet and are suddenly full of life and is engaged in physical activities to get rid of extra energy. It is not proven that sugar can really hamper a child’s behaviour but it should ideally be an extremely small part of a child’s diet. Chocolates and sweet candies could be a major cause of behavioural change in ADHD children as candies are loaded with artificial sugar and colouring and can make a child inattentive. This sudden rush happens due to changes in the blood sugar levels in the body and can lead to a drop in attention and a high in energy. What can be used instead of artificial sugar? Dates, raisins, coconut palm sugar, honey, jaggery or maple syrup can act as great alternatives for sugar. Dates can be soaked in lukewarm water and then blended to get a sugar syrup. Also Read: 7 Ways to keep kids away from Phone

3. Avoid selected dairy products

Most packaged cake mixes available in the market contain a high amount of sugar. Products like these are high on artificial sweeteners and need to be avoided as they heighten hyperactive behaviour. Dairy products such as ice creams or fruit flavoured yoghurts are filled with unnecessary sweeteners and calories and can increase chaotic behaviour. What are the substitutes? Make your own milk by soaking nuts overnight. Try making fruit smoothies or milkshakes made from fresh ingredients at home with cow, soy or almond milk. Homemade yoghurts or homemade brownies and cakes with lots of nuts in them are far better than the packaged, flavoured ones.

4. Avoid caffeine, soda and energy drinks

If you have a child with ADHD; consider eliminating caffeine and soda completely. Chocolates need to be avoided as they are high in caffeine. These have the same ingredients as candies and sodas also have fructose corn syrup which is highly dangerous. Energy drinks are high on caffeine and increase restlessness in a child. Children who drink more of such drinks show aggressive behaviour and tend to withdraw socially. Drinking these type of drinks also interferes with the medications that prescribed for ADHD. What are the substitutes? Apart from smoothies you can try fresh fruit juices like watermelon, orange, lemonades or any other fruit your child would enjoy.

5. Avoid fish and sea foods

Fish is great for health but fish and seafood in has a large amount of mercury in them which is a big ‘No’ for children with ADHD. Fishes like shark, king mackerel, swordfish, tuna and mostly sea fish have high levels of mercury and are very difficult to digest. What are the substitutes? River and small fish are low on mercury level. Fishes like salmon, anchovies and sardines are good. If your child is not a fish eater, it becomes necessary to provide him/her with the required Omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that kids with ADHD have lower blood levels of Omega-3 than kids without ADHD. Fish oil is a great substitute. Also Read: 25 Essential Habits that Parents must Teach their Kids

6. Avoid fried foods, fast foods and processed meat

There is zero nutrition in fast foods, plus they are all deep fried. They provide nothing but extra calories and all the nutrients are killed when food is deep fried. Processed meat contains additives which are harmful for anybody and worse for someone with ADHD. They increase hyperactivity, thirst and make a child feel fuller for longer spells. What are the substitutes? If you must deep fry; use a healthy oil. You can switch to coconut oil or nut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil or any other cold pressed oil that has healthy fats necessary for the health of the brain.

7. Avoid uncooked food

Raw and uncooked leafy vegetables are harmful as they contain certain worms which cannot be visible to the naked eye. Common worms in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and spinach can reach the brain and make the condition worse. What are the substitutes? All green vegetables should be incorporated in the diet of an ADHD child but these should not only be washed thoroughly but also cooked in properly. If your kid is fussy about consuming vegetables, a pureed form like a green sauce pasta or carrot juice smoothies will provide the child with all nutrients he needs. A child with ADHD should have a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and all essential nutrients. Fresh vegetables, home baked goodies, organic food and meat, fresh fruits, unprocessed whole foods will make an ADHD child perform better. Also Read: 11 Tips to Set Bedtime Routine for Babies & Kids Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you