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Managing ADHD: 15 Foods to Avoid

Diet and Nutrition News & Advice

ADHD, also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a type of behavioral disorder primarily seen in children. This disorder is characterized by restlessness, inattentiveness, difficulty concentrating, high levels of unfocused energy and impulsive behavior. While a proper diet cannot cure ADHD, patients who follow particular nutritional guidelines can benefit from eating properly.

Many experts believe eating particular foods can trigger ADHD symptoms in patients, particularly children, so it’s important to avoid certain foods thought to spark a reaction.

If you or someone you love suffers from ADHD, try avoiding these 15 foods. Eliminating (or strongly reducing) these foods from your diet can help manage the symptoms of ADHD.

1. Ice Cream

Dairy products, such as ice cream, can trigger ADHD in Individuals who are hypersensitive to milk products. Someone who is sensitive to dairy products may feel tired both physically and mentally after consuming foods such as ice cream. For this reason, it’s best to avoid this cold treat – even though it may seem like a good idea at the time.

2. Yogurt

Much like ice cream, yogurt is a dairy product that has been known to spark flare ups in individuals with ADHD. Removing these types of products (dairy products) completely from your diet for a few weeks will help to see whether they are a cause for ADHD. If dairy products trigger your ADHD, consider changing them for foods made with soy instead.

3.  Sugar

Experts say a diet high in sugar can spark a flare in ADHD patients. Many experts believe that the sugar strips your body of the vitamins, enzymes and minerals required to help stabilize your mood.

4. Coffee

This may be a difficult one for many individuals to give up, considering coffee is such a popular drink. Many people rely on coffee for an energetic start to their mornings. Unfortunately, coffee contains a significant amount of caffeine which – a natural stimulant known to trigger ADHD symptoms. If your symptoms get worse after drinking coffee, you can try drinking herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee instead.

5. Swordfish

Fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, have been known to trigger ADHD symptoms. The heavy metal (mercury) found in this type of fish can decrease one’s ability to focus and impair concentration in many individuals. If you notice your symptoms getting worse after eating this type of fish, opt for fish with lower mercury levels such as shrimp, lobster or salmon.

6. Cheese

Another dairy food to avoid when trying to avoid sparking ADHD symptoms is cheese (specifically cow’s cheese). Much like yogurt and ice cream,  eliminating cheese from your diet for six to eight weeks will help determine whether it’s the cause for your flare-ups. If you notice your symptoms are more controllable when you’re not eating cheese (or other cow dairy products), consider switching to a lactose-free or cow dairy free diet (i.e., eat goat’s cheese instead).

7. Chocolate

Chocolate, like coffee, contains a significant amount of caffeine. Caffeine has been known to trigger ADHD symptoms and can make symptoms worse if you choose not to eliminate it from your diet. If you notice your symptoms become worse after eating chocolate or drinking hot chocolate, you may want to opt for white chocolate products instead.

8. Pop

Pop contains artificial colors and flavoring, which many experts believe can spark symptoms in individuals with ADHD. In addition to artificial colors and flavoring, many pops also have higher levels of caffeine, which – as described previously – can trigger ADHD symptoms as well. It’s best to avoid soda and opt for an all-natural drink (homemade smoothies are great) instead.

9. Frozen Pizza 

Frozen pizzas are packed full of artificial colors and flavorings, just like pop. The ingredients used to help enhance these types of products can increase hyperactivity and decrease concentration in individuals with this disorder. If you like eating pizza, consider making one from scratch on your own. This way, you’ll know all of the ingredients used are healthy and natural.

10. Corn 

Yellow vegetables, such as corn, are known to cause reactions in individuals with ADHD. It is recommended that you refrain from eating these types of vegetables in order to help control your symptoms. If you want to eat health, opt for other vegetables like spinach, peppers or tomatoes.

11. Chips

It’s pretty much a given that chips would be on this list. In fact, most junk foods should be avoided in order to help manage this type of disorder. Chips are also high in artificial colors and flavoring, making them a poor choice for individuals looking for an ADHD friendly diet. If you like snacking, consider eating healthy vegetables to curb your appetite, instead of junk foods like chips and chocolate.

12. Squash

Squash is another yellow food to avoid when dealing with ADHD. For the same reasons as corn, squash has been known to cause flare ups. Not all yellow foods are bad for ADHD sufferers – bananas are okay because the actual banana is white. Only the peel of the bananas are yellow, and you don’t eat the yellow part anyways. As we mentioned earlier, opt for healthy (possibly organic) vegetables instead of yellow ones.

13. Fruit Juice

Most fruit juices are loaded with artificial colors and flavors. You should avoid drinking fruit juices unless they are 100 percent natural with no artificial coloring or flavoring. Consider making a delicious smoothie with fresh, organic fruits you’ve purchased from the supermarket instead of boxed juice that’s unhealthy for a number of reasons.

14. Fast Food

Fast Food is on the top of most “Do Not Eat” lists and this list is no exception. The fried foods found in most fast food meals are incredibly unhealthy and the ingredients have been known to cause an increase in ADHD symptoms. Individuals looking to manage their symptoms should avoid fast food altogether and opt for making dinner yourself.

15. Red Meat 

Red meat has been known to cause an increase of symptoms for ADHD sufferers, experts say. Cutting back on your red meat intake (not necessarily eliminating it completely) may prove great benefits when it comes to controlling your ADHD. As mentioned earlier, opting for healthier alternatives like salmon or shrimp will help to keep your symptoms controlled so you can maintain a healthier, happier life.

 

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