NB: Information presented here is only for educational purposes. While the information is accurate and up to date, it should NOT be used for self-diagnosis; only a trained psychiatrist is able to offer a mental illness diagnosis.
Food is good for the body and the mind. In the management of ADHD, and mental health in general, a good diet goes a long way in helping one keep nourished and functional. An ADHD diet includes food that you eat and any nutritional supplements you may take to help your brain work better and reduce symptoms e.g., restlessness or lack of focus.
When planning a diet for your mental health, you should consider:
• A high-protein diet: Beans, eggs, meat, and nuts can be good sources of protein. Eat these kinds of foods in the morning and for after-school snacks. It may improve concentration and possibly make ADHD medications work longer.
• Complex Carbohydrates. Load up on vegetables and some fruits, including oranges, tangerines, pears, grapefruit, apples, and kiwi. Eat this type of food in the evening, and it may help you sleep.
• Omega-3 Fatty Acids: You can find these in tuna, tilapia, and other cold-water white fish. Njugu karanga and olive and canola oils are other foods with these in them. You could also take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
Some experts recommend that people with ADHD take 100% vitamin and mineral supplements each day. Other nutrition experts, though, think that people who eat a normal, balanced diet don’t need vitamin or micronutrient supplements. They say there's no scientific evidence that vitamin or mineral supplements help all children who have the disorder.
While a multivitamin may be OK when children, teens, and adults don't eat balanced diets, mega-doses of vitamins can be toxic. Avoid them.
ADHD and eating disorders often occur together. An eating disorder is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating behaviors that negatively affect a person's physical or mental health.
ADHD symptoms like impulsivity and trouble with focus can play a role in binge eating disorder (BED). People with binge-eating disorder frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.
• If your child is struggling with ADHD, an eating disorder or both, talk to your child’s doctor. The doctor can refer you to a therapist or other mental health professional.
• The foods you restrict are the foods you will binge on. Making peace with food will help you stop bingeing.
• Having ADHD means your brain is constantly seeking stimulation. Food can be a form of stimulation.
• Trying to avoid sweets will not stop you from bingeing. All foods fit when you learn to eat intuitively.
• Eating more consistently throughout the day not only prevents evening binges but it also makes your medicine more effective.
1. They are so overwhelmed
2. They take stimulant meds
3. They lose track of time
Mindful eating is a technique that helps you gain control over your eating habits. Paying attention to the moment-to-moment experience of eating can help you improve your diet and manage food cravings.
You can learn to pay attention to what you eat by following these guidelines:
1. Avoid or limit distractions e.g., checking your phone often
2. Take a seat
3. Put your spoon down in between bites if you eat fast
4. Give yourself enough time to enjoy your meal
5. Focus on the taste, textures, and aromas of food
6. Eat something every 3-4 hours
OMEGA 3s are essential fats that need to be gotten from the diet you eat. They help in maintaining good heart health. Given these benefits, Omega 3’s are the most studied supplements for ADHD.
Omega 3’s are often found in fish oil, and research has found that they help with improving symptoms of ADHD.
1. Pick simple recipes. Prefer the recipes that have few steps and that require few ingredients
2. Don’t be afraid of shortcuts. You can buy precut meats, pre-marinated proteins and meat from the supermarkets.
3. Make it a fun experience. You can decide to listen to some music or choose a good company e.g. your friend or spouse
4. Refrigerate leftovers or keep them in a cool place where they won’t go bad
1. Buy a water bottle
2. Pair drinking with medications or eating
3. Make drinking fun by adding fruit for flavor
4. Keep it visible. Keep water close by to avoid forgetting about it.
1. Prioritize nourishing your body as an act of self-care
2. Keep foods visible to prevent forgetting.
3. Set alarms or reminders on when to eat
4. Get an accountability buddy e.g. family or friend who will check whether you have eaten.
1. Eat breakfast before or with your meds
2. Set reminders and an alarm to eat
3. Keep ready to eat foods on hand
4. Go for liquids e.g., juice smoothie if chewing foods sounds unappealing
Diet plays a crucial role in physical and mental health, especially for growing children. Good diet can help a lot in improving ADHD. What you or your child with ADHD eats is very important, and can have an impact on ADHD symptoms.