Nutrition and ADHD in children
Diet is frequently left out of the dialogue or suggested as a ‘last resort’ in helping to treat symptoms of ADHD and behavioural problems in children.
While there is no proof that nutrition causes the behavioural condition ADHD, research shows that specific dietary adjustments can help with symptoms and that certain foods can alter behaviour.
SO, HERE’S WHAT WE KNOW:
Without a question, all children, even those with ADHD, require adequate nutrition in order to feel and act their best.
Children with ADHD are more likely to have:
• Nutrition shortages/deficiencies
• Issues of development
• A poor quality diet
• decreased appetite
• Picky eating
• Unfavourable food-related associations
Medication side effects, parental pressure, self-esteem concerns, and a variety of other factors can all have a detrimental impact on all of the above.
Why isn’t nutrition a topic of conversation?
So, given how important nutrition is, diet is often overlooked as a means of assisting children with ADHD symptoms. This is because, parents and/or healthcare providers may feel that there is not enough research to justify any modifications: this is not the case!
According to National Institutes of Health, the science behind the effect of food on behavior is still quite new and controversial. However, certain foods do affect behavior.
For example, caffeine can increase alertness and chocolate can uplift mood.
Nutritional deficiencies can also affect behavior. One study concluded that taking a supplement of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals led to a significant reduction in antisocial behavior, compared with a placebo.
Studies suggest vitamin and mineral supplements can also reduce antisocial behavior in children, and polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to decrease violent behavior.
Since foods and supplements may influence behavior, it seems plausible that they could also affect ADHD symptoms, which are largely behavioral.
Challenges faced by parents can also be detrimental in initiating an appropriate diet or dietary changes. For example they may feel:
• They’ve heard far too many ridiculous promises that a certain diet can cure ADHD and refuse to believe them. True. On social media, there is a lot of health frenzy and scare mongering.
• Fear that a new ‘diet’ would be too difficult to maintain. It won’t feel difficult if a change works and makes a child feel better.
• They would rather utilise medication to treat the symptoms. Medication and diet can be used together. It’s a two-pronged strategy.
• They are simply too weary to ‘argue’ with a child about food. This is a valid worry. Parenting is difficult, but with a few simple modifications and competent guidance, it won’t be a constant battle.
BUT that doesn’t mean we don’t give it our best shot. We must be advocates for children who are suffering from any of the negative effects of ADHD and/or its treatment. Let’s talk about diet for a moment. Amazing nutrition may genuinely aid in the management of ADHD, as well as prevent malnutrition, growth concerns, and poor eating habits, as well as making them feel amazing in their own skin.
Consume Nutritious Food
There hasn’t been a lot of research done on ADHD diets. However, many health professionals believe that what you eat and drink might help alleviate symptoms. Whatever is good for the brain is likely to be excellent for ADHD, according to experts. You might want to try:
• A high-protein diet is recommended. Protein can be found in beans, cheese, eggs, meat, and nuts. These foods are great for breakfast and after-school snacks. It has the potential to boost concentration and extend the effectiveness of ADHD drugs.
• Complex carbs are preferred. Choose whole grains over refined flours always.
• Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, tangerines, pears, grapefruit, apples, and kiwis.
• More omega-3 fatty acids are needed. Tuna, salmon, and other cold-water white fish contain them. Other foods that include them include walnuts, Brazil nuts, and olive oils. You could also take a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods to Avoid With ADHD
Cut down on how many of these you eat:
• Corn syrup
• Products made from white flour
• Simple carbohydrates.
• White rice
• Potatoes without the skins.
Kanupriya Khanna, a Senior Consultant Nutritionist & Dietitian with over 18 years of experience in paediatric nutrition, can provide expert advice. She is regarded as one of the best dietitians in Delhi because of her unwavering commitment to making a difference in people’s lives by instilling good eating habits and lifestyles.
Also Read: HEALTH ADVANTAGES OF QUINOA