Kid-Friendly Foods That Help With Anxiety and Hyperactivity

It’s estimated that around 6.1 million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While doctors can prescribe medications to manage the symptoms of ADHD, another factor that can impact your child’s behavior is their diet.

Certain foods containing sugar and artificial dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in people with ADHD. Luckily, there are tasty foods that can help with your kid’s anxiety and hyperactivity. Studies of this having a true impact are still being explored. However, a balanced diet is worth exploring to see the effectiveness for each child, notes Julie Ching, registered dietician.

Here are six options to consider…

Hummus and Pita Bread

Something delicious and easy to whip up for snack time is hummus and pita bread. This Middle Eastern spread is made with chickpeas and sesame seeds, which you can either make homemade or buy from the store.

Everyday Health explains how these two ingredients may improve functions like blood flow and focus, especially for people with ADHD. This is because they contain iron and folate. Serve the dish with some whole wheat pita bread for dipping to create an easy and healthy snack!

Fruit Smoothies

Smoothies are a refreshing way to ensure your kids are getting in their daily fruits and veggies. Since fruits are harder for the body to break down, this helps the body release energy over a longer period of time.

It takes little time to prepare smoothies and you can choose from a variety of ingredients to satisfy your kid’s taste buds. That said, try to avoid frozen fruits and vegetables. Everyday Health reports that some frozen brands can exacerbate ADHD symptoms depending on how they were treated. Instead, combine fresh ingredients and ice to create a healthy and delicious smoothie!


Fish contains omega-3, which is a fatty acid that has a direct impact on heart and brain health. Medical NewsToday says it’s an excellent food for children with ADHD because it may help modestly improve symptoms. The omega-3s may improve their attention, focus, motivation, and working memory.

There are also other ways to provide your child with omega-3s. Some of the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, green vegetables, and wild rice.


Foods that are rich in protein are essential for everyone, especially those with ADHD. Protein can have positive effects on a child’s ADHD symptoms. ADDitude Mag says protein can prevent blood sugar from surging, which prevents hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Further, protein helps the body make neurotransmitters. These are chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with one another to prevent increased blood sugar. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, making it an overall good meal for kids with ADHD.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is a great on-the-go snack. It’s easy to make trail mix at home too! You can simply toss a few ingredients in a snack bag and head out the door. If your child has ADHD, make sure to include dried fruits and nuts in the bag and skip the chocolate and candy.

Trail mix is a good source of fiber and protein, which are two important nutrients for someone with ADHD. For example, fiber is a complex carb that can stabilize energy levels.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Kids with ADHD have been linked to low levels of essential fatty acids. You can help your child get a dose of fatty acids with a tuna salad sandwich. Just be sure to choose light tuna which contains fatty acids and serve it on whole-wheat bread.

Another quick and simple sandwich that never fails is peanut butter. This spread is another delicious way to serve your child protein during the day. Just be sure to stick to the natural kind and be on the lookout for added sugars on the ingredient label.

Talk With a Dietitian to Learn More

If you want to learn more about how to ease your child’s ADHD symptoms through their diet, you might want to consult with a dietitian. They can teach you more about how foods play a role in a person’s behavior and conditions. Plus, it will allow you to get personal guidance based on your child’s specific needs and food preferences.

Keep in mind that certain diets should not be a replacement for medication that is prescribed by your doctor.

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.