Nutritional Ideas for Managing ADHD
Children with hyperactivity may do well to consider the foods they are eating as foods play a major role in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Choosing the “right foods” is another proactive way to manage ADHD behaviors. Children who eat a balanced diet enhance the results of their medication regime. Sugar has long been associated with hyperactivity as surges in blood sugar have been linked with increased hyperactivity. So including a diet of vegetables, carbohydrates, fruits and plenty of protein may help keep the behaviors under control. Protein is a key element towards keeping blood sugar levels stable. So, add a little protein to your child’s snacks and meals (and to your own).
Breakfast is a critical meal as the brain has not had nutrition for 12 hours. Make sure that breakfast includes protein. Stay away from the sugary choices. The brain needs the staying power as children manage through their school day and a good breakfast is starting the day off right.
In addition to a balanced meal, adding several servings of whole grains each day will also help to keep the blood sugar levels stable. A side note to consider: keep egg salad or tuna salad made up in your refrigerator for something easy for your child to grab for a snack. This is good protein and a good choice for his/her brain. And there are other ideas you can implement to help manage ADHD behaviors.
Studies have shown that zinc supplements can be another enhancement of the medication regime for ADHD. A study published in BMC Psychiatry reported that half the children in this study who were given 55 mg. of zinc sulfate with their medications showed that those with the zinc, in addition to the medication, showed greater improvement in the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Zinc helps to control mood through regulation of dopamine, so it may be that this mineral may make the drugs more effective by improving the brain’s response to dopamine. If you are interested, check with your doctor to see if you can try this with your child. (Zinc: A Ritalin Boost?, 2008)
One of the most significant supplements for the brain, however, may be fish oil which is an omega-3 supplement. This supplement helps with mental focus. It is believed to be important in brain and nerve cell function. Omega-3 fatty acids impact the ADHD brain even more significantly by improving mental focus. It has been found that children with ADHD are more likely to have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than children with no symptoms of ADHD. (2004)
(2004). The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry .
Barrow, K. (2008). Facts about Fish Oil. ADDitude , 44.
Zinc: A Ritalin Boost? (2008). ADDitude , 45
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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