ADHD and Nutrition – Food For Thought

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I’ve always tried to give my family healthy foods. I ‘ve limited sugar intake, cooked ‘from scratch’, and made recipes as low calorie as possible. As the years have gone by, I’ve become even more careful about what foods I prepare. I thinkI’ve completely cut out MSG, for example, although I keep discovering it on labels (like Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup). And I rarely buy anything with nitrates – like bologna or hot dogs, with the great exception of frozen pepperoni pizza. I don’t know if it’s helped my kids focus any better, but it certainly hasn’t hurt anyone.

We all know that there isn’t a cut and dried ADHD diet that will cure distractibility. But I’m not alone in my suspicions that good nutrition has to help. Some parents swear by The Feingold diet. People swear by certain supplements, such as Attend, or Omega 3 ,which has really helped our family. Here are some things that I have found work for our family.

Out of sight – out of mouth. If it’s not there, they can’t eat it. Don’t buy so much junk. Buy fruit and vegetables, peanut butter and cheese, tuna and eggs. Pop popcorn. Get nuts you have to crack. If I don’t have cookies, my boys eat mac and cheese and frozen pizza. (Yes, they’re processed, but it beats an entire package of Oreos.) If we don’t have soda, my boys drink water, milk, or juice. For some good, healthy and QUICK recipes for snacks, we like these ideas.

You can’t judge a carrot by its cover. While you’re switching over, buy the snack-y looking, individually wrapped packages of carrots and tuna. I even saw Scooby Doo bottled water the other day. A recent study said that kids would eat anything in a McDonald’s wrapper. It’s scary, but true. Packaging can be everything.

All natural. I’m not talking about organic, necessarily. I’m talking about putting raw carrots on the table, fresh salads with oil and vinegar (or oil, garlic and lemon!) dressing, fresh fruits, grilled meats. Don’t use sauces from a bottle – use garlic, fresh spices, onions and peppers. Marinate in lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar.

The whole truth. Use REAL whole grains. Brown rice. 100% whole wheat bread. Whole grain cereal and even spaghetti. I still laugh that Lucky charms advertises that it has whole grains. It does, but not much. And don’t use instant. It really doesn’t take that much longer to cook the real deal, but you have to put that rice on to cook at the beginning of your cooking!

Skip dessert. I rarely serve dessert. If the kids are hungry at the end of a meal, they can have seconds. Or thirds or fourths. Or we’ll cut a watermelon, or they’ll grab a piece of fruit. Okay, or have ice cream. We always have ice cream on hand – processed, sugary, fad laden and delicious.

We’ll never be called health nuts at our house. We definitely have our days when we eat junk. But I HOPE that we’ve achieved some sort of balance to our eating habits, and to our diets.

PS Speaking of Lucky Charms, we LIKE them at our house. My boys never got them for breakfast, but I occasionally buy them for snacking. They’re Ron’s favorite. So when we dropped him off at college for the first time, I left him the biggest box of Lucky Charms I could find. How’s that for balance?!

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About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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