Oh my. Oh my. This is one of those articles that you just don’t want to write. No one in their right mind wants to think about diet, much less change it. I don’t. But I will because it is important (“think about it” that is). Very important. The kind of importance that resonates with everyone, sort of like when Tiger Woods hits a hole in one, or better yet, when he runs over a fire hydrant. Now. That. Is. Important. (Not really, but it is more entertaining than dieting. You gotta give him that.)
Dieting sucks. Let’s face it and not disguise it. People with ADHD have a hard enough time remembering where they put their shoes (I did finally find mine), much less remembering what foods to eat. We tend to love fast food, microwaves and we love prepackaged sandwiches for Pete’s sake. Personally, I am a hot dog lover, but that’s another story. You don’t want to know. (Hot dogs scare me. They do. I’ve heard the stories about the meat grinders. But still, they taste great!)
Did you know that in Britain food additives have been seriously considered for some responsibility in ADHD? Here’s interesting information from an article on Good Morning America:
Mars Inc. responded to pressure from the British government last year by removing artificial colors from its well-known Starburst and Skittles candies sold in the United Kingdom, after a British study bolstered a hypothesis that such additives increase hyperactivity in children. AND food industry giant Kraft Foods Inc. also did the same thing in early 2007 with its British version of Lunchables.
One of the things I have noticed when it comes to ADHD and food additives and other types of ‘stuff’ in our food that could worsen the symptoms of ADHD is that we don’t really want to face those types of issues. Do we? Who has time to check every single ingredient in everything we buy? It’s hard to concede that food additives and other chemical (the word chemical in food gives me the heebie-jeebies) ingredients could be causing us serious health problems. And it is not that these are entirely responsible for ADHD symptoms, because I don’t believe that, it’s because we lack the time, which goes back to convenience. After all, fast food is not popular because it is healthy. Ouch! But isn’t it true? I’m guilty. Very guilty. I have stashed Twinkies. AND I love drive-throughs!
Then there’s the very real issue concerning food allergies and food sensitivities. Not only are they sometimes very difficult to identify, much less diagnose, they can have a very serious effect on our mood and on our behavior. Some foods can even make us angry, depressed, nervous, anxious and restless without us knowing it if we are allergic or just sensitive to them. Two of the biggest culprits are Gluten and Milk.
Do you know how many products have Gluten and Milk in them? A lot (go ahead, take your best guess – more than that!). And most of us enjoy and eat them every day, often without even realizing it. If this is true, which I’m pretty darn tooting sure it is, then I think many of us could potentially save ourselves a lot of misery if we discover what we are allergic and/or sensitive to and then avoid those foods. But we are talking about inconvenience and we are talking about people, like me, with ADHD. I really do like convenient Twinkies. It’s a love affair, truly. But are Twinkies good for me? (We both know the answer and I am not going to face it right now.)
The point of my blog post today is not to make us feel guilty, it is to point out that we might want to consider taking a much closer look at the things we eat. If we do that and respond by eating healthier foods and avoiding the foods that cause us ‘discomfort’ then we may find that we feel better, are more energetic, less moody and have less brain fog. Heck, we may even remember to turn off the lights when we leave the house (okay, that may be stretching it). The major problem is that most of the foods that do cause suffering we may be eating without even knowing it.
The #1 advice I tend to come across for people with ADHD with regards to food is this one: Eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. Process foods have a wide range of ingredients like white flour, trans fats and several additives and chemicals (a.k.a. heebie-jeebies).
The #2 advice I come across is: Get testing done on any food allergies or sensitivities you (or your child) might have. There have been cases that food allergies / sensitivities have been discovered and the persons’ ADHD symptoms improved. I asked Dr. Parker, author of CorePsych-blog, about this and he told me he’s seen hundreds, not merely 10 or 15 cases, with ADHD that was significantly aggravated by food allergy issues. Corrected they help those with ADHD not only to respond to meds and such interventions as Neurofeedback better, but the doses and overall energy improvement helps coping strategies improve measurably. He also pointed me to a blog post of his for you to check out further on this subject
Just something to think about, but I am not a doctor (I’d never remember where I put that freezing cold stethoscope thingy – why is that thing so cold anyway?). So it is a good idea to discuss food concerns, especially allergies, with your doc. Now, if you were to ask me if food allergies and/or food dyes and chemicals are the cause of ADHD I’d tell you that I don’t believe in fairies and leprechauns, but then that doesn’t mean they don’t exist! I’ve just never seen them (but I really, really want to see them!). Now, where did I put that yellow, delicious treat of mine?
I sincerely believe what we eat can make a big difference to our overall health. Do you?