How to Feed a Child with ADHD or ADD

Born and raised in North Carolina, Heather Green has worked as a fashion and beauty consultant as well as freelancing for various wedding, fashion, and health publications. She currently acts as the resident blogger for Online Nursing Degrees where she’s been researching online nursing programs as well as pediatric nursing programs.

If you have a child that has been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, you may or may not be aware of the fact that what your child eats on a daily basis could ultimately impact how they feel and act throughout the day, even if they are being treated with expensive medications.

But whether you’re researching into how you can incorporate more healthy food into your child’s daily diet, or if you’re sick and tired of purchasing expensive prescriptions that can be harmful to your child’s mind and body, here are some tips on what to feed your child if they have ADHD or ADD, and what foods to avoid as well.

Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you should be putting careful thought and consideration into what you feed your child every morning. Experts recommend that instead of feeding your child breakfast cereals and milk, you should be feeding them approximately 60-70% of protein and 30-40% of carbohydrates. Eggs, breakfast meats and toast are all fine options for breakfast food for a child with ADHD/ADD, as well as protein supplements and/or protein shakes.

Some experts recommend that you include coffee or caffeine into your child’s daily diet as 100 mg of caffeine is about the same as a 5 mg dose of Ritalin, however this boils down to your own personal opinion. But if you are going to try and include caffeine in your child’s diet, make sure they drink coffee in the morning rather than in the early afternoon or the evening, and be sure to consult your doctor before doing so as well.

Some scientific studies suggest that flax seed oil, primrose oil and walnut oil are all beneficial for children with ADHD or ADD thanks to the essential fatty acids, and you can easily mix a spoonful of any of these oils into meals, salad dressings, soups and much more.

Foods to avoid

We all know how tempting it can be to give in whenever your child asks for chocolate or a candy bar, but the fact of the matter is if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, they should stop eating junk food altogether. Junk foods are incredibly high in sugar and carbohydrates and will only negatively affect the functioning of your child’s brain, and perhaps even make them more hyperactive as well.

You should also try to avoid feeding your child dairy products, fruit juices, processed meats, fried foods, fish, or any food with food coloring.

Furthermore, it is important to point out that you should also be extremely careful not to expose your child to heavy metal like mercury, copper or nickel, as well as cadmium, which is found in dental fillings and cigarette smoke.

  • OneStrongMama

    My son has sensory processing disorder, and we follow very similar guidelines with his food.  The more sugar and starches he has, the more trouble he has. 
    I also think that these guidelines can be applicable to any child.  Our little ones can only benefit from a protein rich, junk free diet. 

  • mom-mom-mom

    Thanks for the great information.

    As a huge believer that my best info comes from other moms’ experiences, I just wanted to pass on a lesson I learned the hard way: my daughter was diagnosed with ADD over a year ago after several teachers said that she couldn’t stay on task. The doc had us fill out evals and put her on meds which turned out to be a disaster. She would crash and burn at the end of the day and the drug made her too focused. (If there is such a thing.) She had to have her pencil perfectly sharpened and her letters needed to be symmetrical.

    After talking to a few other moms and following my own intuition, I had her evaluated by an occupational therapist. Turns out that she had little core or upper body strength, so it took everything she had to concentrate on just sitting upright all day and writing. After 6 months of OT, she is a confident, task-finishing, happy 10-year-old. And her report card was free of conduct marks!

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