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How to Feed a Child With ADHD

Updated on September 29, 2012

Tips on how to feed a child with ADHD

Having a child diagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), I panicked because I don’t really know the implications of it to the general well being of my son. I am a working mom so I dreaded the fact that I don’t have enough time to take care of my child. I have seven children all in all, plus a job, so you must imagine the fear I have in dealing with it. My children are ages 3 to 18 years old. That is why I am so interested with this topic "Tips on How to Feed a Child with ADHD".

I researched a lot about what food to feed my ADHD child, he is seven years old. Clearly due to time constraint, I can hardly have time for myself how much more to a different diet plan for an ADHD child. I master the healthy diet planning and healthy foods for normal children but I have yet to master feeding the right food for my ADHD child.

I collaborate well with the doctor of my child and some researches from reputable sources to help me come up with advices and tips on how to feed a child with ADHD.

ADHD -- is said to be experienced by 6% of American children
ADHD -- is said to be experienced by 6% of American children

I am sharing with you some of doctors advice on what food to give an ADHD child. There are lots of reasons why a child develops such disorders. It is deemed a medical reason as the disorder inhibit’s the child from proper mental and development due to hyperactivity. In a sense children with ADHD cant calm down and they cant concentrate at the same time.

What is ADHD?

  • According to resources ADHD is primarily characterized by "the co-existence of attentional problems and hyperactivity, with each behavior occurring infrequently alone. It is the most commonly studied and diagnosed for children psychiatric disorder in children, affecting about 3 to 5% of children globally with symptoms starting before seven years of age. ADHD is a common chronic disorder in children with 30 to 50% of those individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to have symptoms into adulthood. Adolescents and adults with ADHD tend to develop coping mechanism to compensate for some or all of their impairments.
  • In recent years , "the phenomenon of ADHD has been said to be a by product of the foods that children eat, so it is deemed necessary to feed them with proper healthy foods, so to speak. “For some children, diet is suspected of playing a role in the multiple behavioral and cognitive symptoms of ADHD and concerns have focused on food additives, blood sugar regulation, food allergies and intolerances, and vitamin, mineral and fatty acid deficiencies."


A Comprehensive video about ADHD and Food

Junk foods and beverages with color like yellow and red should be avoided, as well as food rich in  artificial flavors
Junk foods and beverages with color like yellow and red should be avoided, as well as food rich in artificial flavors
Fish is a good source for Omega 3 which is good for children with ADHD
Fish is a good source for Omega 3 which is good for children with ADHD

How to Feed A child with ADHD

foods for children with or without ADHD is the same -- avoid junk foods is a general rule for all children
foods for children with or without ADHD is the same -- avoid junk foods is a general rule for all children

Recommended diet for children with ADHD

  • There Is not much difference in the diet of a normal child and with those with ADHD. You can also give them the proper healthy food diets for normal children and the Food Pyramid for children. Check my other article about the discussion about feeding your children healthy foods. According to an article in Harvard Mental Health Letter. June 2009. “As of mid-2009, the consensus on a sensible approach to nutrition for children with ADHD is the same recommended for all children: eat a diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthful unsaturated fats, and good sources of protein; go easy on unhealthy saturated and trans fats, rapidly digested carbohydrates, and fast food; and balance healthy eating with plenty of physical activity.”
  • Protein rich food is also good for children to help them feel better
  • Omega 3 rich food like sardines and fish products should be given to children with ADHD
  • Reduced cola and colored drinks in their diet as this si rich in additives and sugar. As a proof to this one it has been found that “ A recent well-designed study in Britain, the investigators found a mild but significant increase in hyperactivity in both age of children—across the board, regardless of baseline hyperactivity levels—during the weeks when they consumed drinks containing artificial colors. This study concluded that the additives might explain about 10% of the behavioral difference between a child with ADHD and one without the disorder”
  • Avoid giving great doses of vitamins, which can be toxic
  • Avoid many commonly used artificial food colors, the preservative sodium benzoate and hyperactivity.
  • Surprisingly, sugar or its other sources have not been found out to have effect on ADHD.
  • Avoid artificial food colorings found in drinks, colas and junk foods--colors like yellow and red in food should be avoided.



There has been conclusive evidence that food which are rich in artificial flavors and additives specially those with artificial yellow and color red food are generally bad for children and contributes to ADHD incidence among children, All children should adhere to the basic food nutrients requirements as deemed necessary for their overall health as enumerated in the dietary requirements for children. There are some tips on how to feed a child with ADHD and these are scientifically proven recommendations.


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i had just watched a tv documentary program about feeding ADHD kids, it is really hard to get them sit down and don't be picky.

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      Very good article - very useful!

    • profile image

      Life Doesnt Wait 5 years ago

      Thanks for this article on such a serious issue today.

      From my personal experience with my son (now 14) who is severely ADHD, when he was diagnosed at age 5, we went on a gluten-free, dye-free, high Omega 3, low sugar, no soda, high protein diet, which was fine for him as he has always been a great eater - loves all fruits, veggies, etc. However, none of these modifications changed his behavior, not one bit. We did not want to medicate him so we pulled him out of school and homeschooled him. Working at his own pace and for a short period (since as the only student, he could work quickly and efficiently) he breezed through his coursework and even skipped a grade. Once he reached his tween years we decided to put him on medication because he wanted to go back to school. We were "ok" with medicating him at this time because he could tell us if the medication made him feel uncomfortable and the risk of stunting his growth or stifling his creativity would be much less at this age as opposed to when he was 5. It has all worked out well, but it's been a very challenging road. He still struggles with his behavior some, but he's an honor student and is very creative and artistic (in band, robotics, photography, etc.) so we're hoping that he'll one day grow out of it, enough to be able to stop the medication. But, it requires a LOT of discipline, which I know first hand because I am ADD as well and it's a daily battle to stay focused and on track.

    • profile image

      Rad Man 7 years ago

      Lot's of very pertinent information here. Diet certainly effects my child. Give him a bag of Doritos and watch him jitter. Dairy allergies was an issue for my child. Can't hurt to take dairy away for a few days and see what happens.

    • Shona Venter profile image

      Shona Venter 7 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent info. ADHD and ADD is definitely affected by dietary changes. Another additive to avoid at all costs is the sweetener Aspartame, which also affects them badly. Virtually any ingredient that has an E number is also to be avoided like the plague, as 99% of these are also artificial substances.

    • alexandriaruthk profile image

      alexandriaruthk 7 years ago from US

      thank you as well,

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 7 years ago from United States

      I would never have really thought to change a child's diet who suffers from ADHD, but it so makes sense. This was really interesting thank you!