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ADHD Diet Help

Updated on January 16, 2015


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is one of those health conditions that is long on unanswered questions and short on treatments. ADHD is generally categorized by inattention, distractibility, impulsively, and hyperactivity.

Everyone knows how important nutrition is in their child's daily menu. For a child with ADHD nutrition is even more important. There are many experts that believe that choosing the right food can help a child with ADHD keep their condition from becoming out of control. More and more there are parents that are finding out that when they closely watch their child's diet and make sure they eat the right things and leave in incorrect food out they have the wonderful result of seeing the behavior in their child become more consistently under control.

Dr. Edward Hallowell advises parents to fill their child's plate in the following manner: 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbohydrates. A diet of this type tends to control swings in behavior that can be cause by hunger, surges in blood sugar or a shortfall of a particular nutrient. Also important is to avoid artificial color and sugar.

Interesting ADHD Tidbits

  • Children with ADHD are at a higher risk in adulthood of larger consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs than those who do not suffer from ADHD.
  • Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
  • Parents of children are 3 times more likely to divorce than those without ADHD.
  • About 500 children with ADHD die every year with sudden cardiac arrest.
  • The rate of diagnosis of ADHD rose 3% per year between the years of 1997 to 2003 and 5.5% between 2003 - 2007.
  • Adult drivers with ADHD are involved in 4 times more accidents.
  • Hispanic children are less likely than non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black children to have ADHD.
  • As of 2007 2.7 million children between the ages of 4 - 17 years old are taking medication for ADHD.
  • There has been a connection between ADHD and other issues such as obesity, anorexia, and depression.
  • Out of 100 children with ADHD 25 will repeat at least one grade.
  • 36% of the people with ADHD do not finish school.

ADHD Diet Don'ts

  • Do not give your child soda, ice tea, or carbonated drinks of any kind.
  • Don't let him/her junk food. It's processed and can make blood glucose level rise, making situation worse.
  • Don't give him any dairy products. Stop with the cheese, cream, and yogurt and considerably
    cut back on milk.

ADHD Diet Do's

  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of water.
  • A person with ADHD needs to eat foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. A good source is flax seed and cold water fish.
  • Protein supplements are a must.
  • Provide a lot of raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Multivitamins will help provide a well balanced diet.
  • Make sure they do not skip a meal.

ADHD traits
ADHD traits | Source

Foods to Avoid

  • High Glycemic Index Foods - such as biscuits, white bread, cake, white rice, potatoes, regular processed pasta, sugars, sweeteners, processed cereal, simple carbohydrates, and most junk foods. Restrict the intake of pineapples, bananas, corn and potatoes. They are pretty high on the glycemic index list.
  • Food additives - such as aspartame, monosodium glutamate, nitrates (found in lunch meat), and yellow and red food dye.
  • Sugary Food - make sure you avoid the foods high is sugar. High blood sugar interferes with the ability to concentrate and pay attention.
  • Caffeine - may worsen ADHD symptoms. (Note:: There are some very knowledgeable people that feel that caffeine may help calm people when used in moderation.)
  • Salicylates - foods containing the chemicals salicylates may aggravate the symptoms of ADHD. They are founds in apricots, apples, cherries, and plums

Food To Include In ADHD Diet

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Fatty Fish

Foods to Concentrate on Serving

Make sure you try to serve as many of these foods as you can at every meal.

  • Whole grain
  • Omega-3 acids ( cold water fish, walnuts or canola oil)
  • Protein (eggs, nuts, beans, poultry, lean meats)
  • Dark green, and yellow or red vegetables
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese

Kid Friendly ADHD Recipes
Kid Friendly ADHD Recipes

Carrot Fries



extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel carrots and cut in half.

Slice each half into quarters length wise.

Coat each carrot piece in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Bake for half and hour.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

Note: Children love french fries. You might have more luck serving your child vegetables and getting them to eat them if they resemble french fries. They are especially good for your child with ADHD.

Orange Chicken


4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup stir-fry sauce

4 1/2 tsp sugar - or equivalent of sugar substitute

2 tsp fresh orange peel, grated

2 tsp orange juice


Lightly coat chicken with cornstarch.

Heat oil in large frying pan.

Add chicken and brown on both sides.

Remove chicken and drain olive oil from pan..

Blend the rest of the ingredients with 1/3 cup of lukewarm water.

Pour mixture over chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, stir occasionally.

Note: The dish is delicious served over brown rice. This dish is kid-friendly. The slight sweetness of this recipe is sure to please your most picky eater.


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Don, I have heard that an Omega 3 supplement has a great effect on ADHD. I find the subject fascinating myself. I work with ADHD middle school children. It can be both fascinating and frustrating.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      The carrot fries sound wonderful. I also market an Omega 3 supplement that I've seen produce great results in adults for cholesterol, blood pressure. I'd like to see children with ADHD take it. Our kids all had ADHD ... most adopted children, I believe, do have ADHD ... much is inherited. It's a fascinating subject.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      GmaMoldie, thanks for your kind comments. I work with ADHD children and know it's not easy to live with. The carrot fries are surprizingly good you should try them.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      KoffeeDlatch Gals,

      This is awesome! My surprise was not the caffeine (excellent reply to mattforte by the way) but the diary. We have a relative who was recently diagnosed.

      Your carrot fries some wonderful - I am not a potato person and while I am not ADHD, what a great recipe - leave to you to be full service.

      Vote up and awesome! Very thorough, beyond helpful - awesome! Thank you!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      mattforte, I understand your problem with the caffeine as a don't. After I read your comment I went back over my references and according to them caffeine should be on the list of foods to be eliminated. Their reasoning is that the side effects would outweight the benefits.

      I did, however, do more research and found that there are some very knowledgable people that feel caffeine does benefit the people with ADHD. That, as you stated, it tends to calm them rather than stimulate as long as it is used in moderation.

      I am going to add that note in my article. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • mattforte profile image

      Steven Pearson 6 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      This hub caught my eye, as I was recently diagnosed ADHD, among a few other related things.

      The problem I have with this is your reference to caffeine. While caffeine is a stimulant and makes most people jittery, and unable to concentrate as well..this is actually the opposite in people with ADHD. We react to stimulants differently, that is why they prescribe things like Ritalin and Adderall (Both stimulants, and if you take it without having ADHD it tends to work mildly like a dose of Speed). Instead of making it difficult to focus, it actually calms us down and helps us focus.

      I even have a friend with really really bad ADHD, and he'll talk your head off 24/7.

      When we hang out, I give him an Xs drink to shut him up and calm him down. It works.

      I'm trying to find some information on different ADHD symptoms (Everybody has a different mix) to see if there are some that don't fit this, but I can't find any?

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Debby, I say it as I see it.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 6 years ago

      You're a doll.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Debby, I went right to your site and read your article. I came straqight back and linked to it. Thanks for the sugestion. I enjoyed your article.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 6 years ago

      Dear KoffeeKlatch ~ Nicely put together ADHD recommendations for nutrition. Voted up for others to view. I also wrote on the same subject, "The Truth About The Causes of ADD and ADHD" You may want to add to your list. Blessings, Debby

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Prasetio, this subject came to my attention because of the type of student I work with every day. Thanks for your comments.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      You have valuable information here. I should give more attention to this. Thanks for writing and share with us. Well done and rated up!


    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      drpastorcarlotta, it's good to be missed. Thanks for reading and your wonderful comments.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Hey, KoffeeKlatch Gals I have missed you! My grandson was diagnoised with ADHD, now on meds. I love this Hub! Very, very informational! Voted useful! What great recipes.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      tebo, the medicine seems to aggravate the situation when you hae a heart problem. It's a good idea to always have your child's heart checked out thoroughly before starting medication.

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Great article and very thorough. I didn't know about the risk of cardiac arrest. I assume this would be side effects of medication, or are they just more prone to that problem?

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Pamela, it is more common than most people think. There are three students in my classs with ADHD. Since I also cook with them, I need things that are good for all of them.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      anginwu, the carrot fries are really quite good. Thanks for reading.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      BlissfulWriter, it seems that no matter what ails you omega-3's and less sugar can help.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Gypsy Willow, thanks for reading.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      DonnaCosmato, I am so glad I could help.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      jenubouka, thanks you. Eating properly is an important way to help tone down ADHD symptoms.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent hub about a very common problem with some great common sense solutions and even recipes. Rated up and awesome.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Very informative. I can only imagine how difficult it is to take care of ADHD kids. Diet can certainly help to cut down on hyperactivity. Love the carrot fries recipe. Thanks and rated up.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      Definately agree with getting enough omega-3 and avoiding sugar.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Good advice and nice recipes, thanks

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      Great hub and I bookmarked it. Our little guy is ADHD and autistic, and I'm about to go nuts trying to find something nutritious that he will eat. Thanks for giving me some new ideas to end the dinner table battles. Voted up.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      A lot of information that is artfully written. The resources are great to look up, and the recipes give good ideas how to help a child eat better choices. Great read!