Neutrician – Brain Food & ADHD.
Maybe you have heard before that there are certain foods to avoid or to add to your diet if you have ADHD, but the world of nutrition is a confusing one. I get you, it’s not easy to navigate. While this post focuses on nutrition and ADHD, I would like to respect that for those with ADHD eating disorders can be common, limiting foods can become disordered, and therefore it is always best to do what is right for you, your body, and your mind. If you have a history of disordered eating and are unsure how to proceed, please consult with your doctor, nutritionist or counsellor before making changes to your diet.
Some symptoms of ADHD can be mitigated with proper nutrition. It can be helpful to ensure you are getting all the nutrients such as vitamins and minerals you need to keep your brain healthy and happy. There are many ways nutrition can impact ADHD symptoms, from keeping blood sugar balanced by remembering to eat more regularly (mood swings are no fun), to incorporating specific foods which can help with brain function.
Meal Planning/ Snacks
Eating with ADHD can be overwhelming. Many times, for folks who are using stimulant medications, loss of appetite is common. You may find certain textures and foods off-putting. Since appetite may be reduced during the day, this can result in bingeing at the end of the day as the medication subsides. This can affect many things, including sleep difficulties which can worsen ADHD symptoms.
Prioritization is…well, priority. As we know, this is not easy with ADHD. You get home, and the idea of making dinner is overwhelming and nothing sounds good. It can be helpful to have a schedule and alarms to remind yourself to eat small snacks throughout the day. It may be helpful to come up with a few snacks that do not seem off-putting, make a list of a few foods you can tolerate that are easy to grab and require less prep. What are some reminders you can use throughout the day to remember to eat? Can you leave some foods out as a visible reminder throughout the day, such as mixed nuts?
Taking care of the brain, starting with the gut.
The gut-brain connection is important because the digestive tract is what allows certain foods through, which can include foods we may be allergic to, undigested foods, and bad bacteria which eventually influence the brain.
Some foods which can affect the brain include:
Dairy and gluten can affect concentration.
Processed and sugary foods can increase the severity of ADHD symptoms.
Additives in food, such as colours and preservatives can disrupt brain function.
Protein includes amino acids which helps make neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Protein can be found in foods such as beans, eggs, meat, and tofu.
B vitamins help with nervous system function, if there is a deficiency it affects our nervous system, which includes our brain and our nerves.
Watch out for your blood sugar! More protein in meals and soluble fibre (like citrus fruit, apples, oats, peas and beans) helps keep blood sugar more balanced. Stable blood sugar helps with anxiety, energy, focus, mood, and memory.
Super Brain Foods
Get more omega 3’s, this can be found in foods such as salmon and walnuts.
Magnesium can be calming, found in spinach, bananas, lentils, soybeans, and tree nuts.
Iron is helpful for energy and can be found in spinach, black beans, meat, and spinach.
The way nutrition affects us differs from person to person. Certain vitamins and supplements can mix dangerously with certain prescription medicine. It is always best to speak with a doctor before starting any supplements.
If you find despite your best efforts you are still struggling with eating more regularly, or with creating a meal plan, or keeping the kitchen tidy and organized, you may find ADHD coaching helpful to find tools and strategies to support you.
Here is a handout to help cue you for healthier eating:
Kaitlyn is an ADHD Coach and a Wholistic Nutritionist. She is also a yoga teacher and somatic practitioner. She uses a compassionate, open approach to help the folks she supports with reaching their wellness goals.