4 ADHD-Friendly Recommendations for Better Eating Habits

While we do consider ourselves ADHD “experts,” we are by no means nutritionists – we’re in no position to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be eating. That being said, there are nutritional recommendations that many practitioners working with ADHD suggest – based on a large body of research and anecdotal evidence.

Intellectually, most of us know what a healthy, balanced diet looks like. We all grew up with various versions of the food pyramid or food guides, and we all had somebody at some point in our life lecture us about the evils of deep fried food (however delicious it is).

In practice though, eating well can be difficult. Add in the complication of ADHD – where planning and organizing meals can be difficult, let alone even remembering to eat when you’re hyper-focusing on that painting or the final details of that project – and eating well can feel downright unattainable.

Whatever the reason for eating well or not eating well, don’t fret – we’re not here to lecture you about nutrition. We simply thought it would be important to share some information with you.

So, please enjoy a by-no-means comprehensive list of 4 ADHD-friendly recommendations for better eating habits:

1)      Eat protein in the morning: We all know that protein is an important part of a balanced diet, but did you know that it has been shown to trigger alertness-boosting neurotransmitters and stabilize blood sugar? In layman’s terms, if you each a breakfast rich in protein, it has been shown to boost alertness – something that can come as a premium for ADHD individuals in the mornings.

2)      Limit caffeine intake: Although caffeine is a stimulant and can help engage focus, its benefit is often outweighed by the harm it can have on your body, particularly if you are currently being medicated with a stimulant. Too much caffeine can lead to sleep problems, increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, and headaches to name a few consequences.

3)      Keep blood sugar levels stable: Foods that are high in processed sugars may give short energy bursts, but they general lead to a subsequent ‘crash and burn’ which will likely make you feel drowsy, lethargic, and much more likely to reach for more sugar. Although studies have not shown that sugar necessarily worsens ADHD symptoms, limiting sugar does help to avoid these sudden energy bursts. Stocking up on complex carbohydrates on the other hand – such as whole grains and vegetables – will better regulate your blood sugar levels because they take longer to break down and will help you avoid that ‘Spike and Crash’ cycle.

4)      Don’t skip meals: Due to difficulties with time management, organization, planning and managing hyper-focus, ADHD individuals often struggle with maintaining a regular eating schedule. Skipping meals is not the answer! Eating consistently and managing energy levels is essential for focus and overall well-being, so make it a priority to strategize the best way to get you eating. If cooking meals is not your thing, buy snacks that you can graze on throughout the day. No time in the morning? Pack your lunch the night before. Absolutely can’t stomach eating in the morning? Try a smoothie or meal replacement drink.

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