By Fatima Malik
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopment disorder that causes hyperactivity, lack of self-regulation, impulsive behaviours (without fully realizing the consequences).
One of the symptoms of ADHD is hyperactivity, which causes restlessness, lack of quality sleep (trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep), difficulty sitting still and concentrating on conversations, regularly interrupting people are just some of the symptoms related to hyperactivity.
Impulsive behaviours closely follow hyperactivity, these are usually actions and things said without considering the consequences. A kid with ADHD may take each little thing their friends do one step further… causing disruption and inappropriate reactions considering the situation.
Lack of self-regulation makes it hard for these kids to recover from impulsive, disruptive actions in an orderly manner. Although they can be taught to keep their symptoms in check, they usually need more time than a neurotypical kid.
So how would food affect the ADHD brain?
Good question! (who needs friends when you can just converse with yourself).
Consuming foods that contain sugars, artificial colours, and caffeine can cause ADHD hyperactivity symptoms to increase. For example, candy for a child who is already restless can cause sleeplessness and irritation. A kid with ADHD who consumes candy can feel like bees in his head. He won’t sit still and find anything that takes care of that excess energy.
Avoid sodas, foods with caffeine and high-fructose corn syrup. Like candy, sodas have sweeteners and sugar, causing more hyperactivity and mental and emotional restlessness.
Caffeine isn’t the best for a non-ADHD brain; imagine what it does to a neurodivergent brain. Kids with ADHD usually feel more anxious, and caffeine (in sodas and other drinks) can cause them to feel anxiety at a greater level than they can regulate. Sleep is severely affected by caffeine, and kids with ADHD are known to have sleep problems; add caffeine to that, and it’s just torture.
Foods with artificial colouring can also increase the severity of ADHD symptoms. Reading labels can help you determine which foods are good for your child with ADHD.
Mercury! Yes, seafood can be healthy, but some fish have high mercury levels that can (over time) collect in the brain and cause hyperactivity. For a child that already has a hyperactive brain, mercury would only make things worse for a child who already has a hyperactive brain. So as long as you avoid fish with high mercury levels and eat in moderation, you’re good. Some examples are shark, king mackerel, swordfish, etc.
Like any other food sensitivity, kids with ADHD are sensitive to certain foods because they affect their brains.
Suppose you suspect your kid with ADHD doesn’t have a healthy enough diet, or the diet they have is increasing the severity of their symptoms. In that case, it is recommended to seek out a professional nutritionist who can help determine the best course of action for your family.
These nutritionists can assist with meal plans, even down to the grocery list. They can help you plan your nights out to restaurants (if Covid ever lets up).
Positive Kids have professional nutritionists on staff who can help. We have professionals all over Canada. Call today 1-866-503-7454
Offices in Ontario:
Woodbridge, North York, Barrie, Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Oakville, Markham, Scarborough etc.