The ADHD diet recently became a hot topic after a study concluded that yes, diet does play a role in managing ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

This study contradicted previous studies that stated there was no correlation. For years though, many parents have been trying different diets for ADHD. Some practitioners claim diet can help improve up to 60% of children with ADHD. Anecdotal reports have been as mixed as the research, and with the contradictory information, many parents are confused. So what does all this mean, and how can you organize this information to help your child?


ADHD Nutrition

The ADHD diet is not different from a normal, healthy diet all children should be following. Here are the steps to take to give your child the best ADHD nutrition possible.

First of all, a healthy diet is essential. A diet high in fruit, vegetables, grains, lean protein and sources of Omega-3 fatty acids is imperative in helping your child be as healthy as can be.

girl eating peach

Next, eliminate food dyes and monitor your child closely for changes. If you see an improvement in your child’s ADHD, obviously continue to eliminate the dyes. Even if you don’t see much of a difference, think twice before adding them back. There are no health benefits from food dyes and additives, and foods with dyes aren’t going to fit into a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and food high in Omega 3’s. Return to a whole foods diet and you will find you don’t have many added dyes anyway.

Have your child take a high quality Omega-3 supplement such as Coromega or Nordic Naturals. Many children with ADHD have very low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, and many parents swear this is the key to improving their child’s behavior.

Take a high quality multivitamin with minerals. Many of the common deficiencies are naturally replaced once the child returns to a natural, whole foods ADHD diet, however a multivitamin can help if your child is a picky eater or has a less than perfect diet. Many children with ADHD have low levels of iron, zinc, and magnesium, and a high quality multivitamin with minerals can help correct this.

Start a food diary and try to determine what foods set your child off.  For some children it may be milk and dairy products, while gluten may affect others.  Both of these are common triggers.  Watch sugar intake, which isn't healthy anyway, and see if this makes them calmer and improves attention. 

The problem with this is it may be a delayed reaction, so not everyone makes the connection that it was the fruit loops eaten at breakfast that causes a child to be hyper at 2pm.  Consistently keeping a food diary should eventually yield patterns, however, and once these foods are removed from the diet you may see some improvement.

Consider food sensitivity testing. Research on the effectiveness of eliminating foods the child is sensitive to is building, and by working with a dietitian to eliminate these foods may be a key to improving your child’s behavior. For more information on whether your child would be a good candidate for this, make an appointment with us .

Try the recommendations above with the guidance of a doctor and see if your child can benefit from an ADHD diet.