Healthy and Unhealthy Foods for Child with ADHD

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Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) need to eat a healthy diet, and that includes choosing healthy snacks. But feeding kids who have ADHD can be extra challenging for several reasons. First, medications can decrease their appetite. Second, kids who experience hyperactivity expend more energy and may need more calories than some of their peers. And third, if they eat too many sweets, they can suffer from mood swings when their blood sugar spikes and then crashes. As a parent, you have to know the right balance to strike.

Children with ADHD can take these snacks:

1. Fruit Shakes

Kids who have ADHD benefit from the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruit provides. If your child turns up his nose at a whole banana, try making a fruit shake from fresh fruit and yogurt instead. Blend bananas, strawberries, peaches, orange juice, and ice in the blender, add some yogurt for thickness, and serve. Choosing non-fat yogurt will give your smoothie extra protein.  You can use any mix of fruits — try mangoes or pineapples for a tropical flavour. For a boost of protein, add a scoop of peanut butter. And you can sneak in extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids with ground flaxseeds.

2. Mini Pizzas

Mini pizzas are a fun, quick healthy snacks for your kids. Make a mini pizza on a whole-wheat base with low-fat cheese (that’s the protein). Protein helps feed the brain and reduces hunger-induced mood swings. It also fills kids up for longer because it slows the food on its path from the stomach to the small intestines. Fiber, a complex carbohydrate, takes longer to digest and keeps blood sugar levels stable longer.

3. Whole-Wheat Crackers

The potato chips are loaded with fat and have little to offer in the way of nutrition. To satisfy your child’s craving for crunch-worthy foods, offer whole-wheat crackers, baked chips. Hot-air popcorn is another healthier alternative that provides lots of fiber and can be a nice addition to your child’s ADHD diet. Pack some in your child’s backpack for when hunger strikes.

4. Whole-Wheat Bread

For kids with ADHD, snacks should contain protein which helps with memory and learning and a couple of other food groups.

Peanut butter — an excellent source of protein on whole-wheat bread. Bananas, a great source of potassium and vitamins B and C, have been found to boost immunity and even lift moods.

5. Hummus Spread on Pita

Hummus is made from ground chickpeas and tahini (sesame seeds). It’s a great source of protein, fiber, and many of the vitamins that kids with ADHD need to stay calm and focus better. Serve it on fiber-rich whole-wheat pita that you’ve cut into pie-shape pieces.

6. Dried Fruits and Nuts

Dried fruits are another great source of fiber for your child. They have little protein, but they go well with nuts, which can provide the protein needed in an ADHD diet. A dozen almonds will net about 3 grams of protein. However, if you don’t watch portion sizes, dried fruits and nuts can quickly add extra calories to your child’s diet. That may not be a concern, since many kids with ADHD are hyperactive and need more calories .But it’s a good idea to divide the snack into small servings so your child doesn’t overeat.

*Loss of appetite is a common side effect of ADHD medication in children. If you hear this familiar refrain, try the following these five tips:

1. A single serving. Avocado, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, brown rice, turkey, and granola pack hefty nutritional value in a single serving.
Food first, pill second. A high-protein, high-calorie breakfast starts the day off right.

2. Liquid meals. High-protein shakes and smoothies are tasty ways for your child to get his daily share of nutrients. Limit juice intake, though. Drinking more than eight ounces each day will make your child too full to eat. Just say no to soda.

3. Apples
Apples are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Doctors have recommended that children with ADHD increase their intake of complex carbohydrates. Eating these types of foods right before bed has also been known to help children sleep better. An apple a day will keep your ADHD symptoms at bay.

4. Fortified foods: Include enriched whole-grain breads, calcium-infused juices, or snack bars with a day’s dose of vitamins and minerals.
More better meals. Eating four small meals a day is a good way to spark appetite. Refined foods don’t count.

5. Goat’s Cheese
Cheese is a great source of protein.
However, many who suffer from ADHD suffer with a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance, which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. If you suspect your child has an allergy to cow’s milk/dairy, try switching to goat cheese instead to improve concentration and improve how ADHD medication works.

These foods can be given easily with ADHD:

1. Pears

Much like apples, pears are a good source of complex carbohydrates. If your child doesn’t like apples (or you’re just looking to add more variety to their diet), pears are a great alternative. Similar to apples and other complex carbs, eating pears at night can help aid sleep.

2. Tuna

Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to significantly decrease ADHD symptoms in many children. Tuna is a phenomenal source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Using tuna to make things like wraps, sandwiches and pasta salads for kids’ lunches is a great way to try and help control their symptoms.

3. Eggs

Eggs are also a great source of protein. Protein is essential in maintaining a balanced diet and controlling symptoms in children with ADHD. Much like cheese, eggs will improve concentration and increase the time ADHD medications work. Eggs (especially hard boiled since you can make them ahead of time and have them on hand) are a great breakfast option for parent.

4. Nuts

Similar to tuna, nuts are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and Brazil nuts have been shown to have the most impact when managing ADHD symptoms but other types like almonds are a great alternative as well.

5. Spinach

Spinach is one of the most effective vegetables when it comes to controlling ADHD symptoms in children. Doctors often recommend leafy green vegetables and spinach is most definitely at the top of that list. There are many ways to add spinach to your diet. If your child refuses to eat it, blend it up alongside berries and other fruits in a smoothie and they’ll never even know they’re eating it.

6. Oranges

Eating oranges and drinking 100 percent pure orange juice are both great ways to add more complex carbohydrates to your child’s diet. These foods are known to help aid with sleep (falling asleep can be very difficult for kids with ADHD) and are a great source of Vitamin C as well. Having a glass of orange juice with your breakfast or eating an orange for an after school snack will go a long way in helping to control ADHD symptoms.

7. Kiwi

Kids love kiwis much like oranges, apples and pears, kiwis are an incredible source of complex carbohydrates. This fruit is not only delicious and fun to eat but it’s a great alternative for parents looking to add more variety to their children’s diets. Eating apples and pears everyday can get boring. Adding in some kiwi will put a smile on your kids’ faces and will ensure they’re eating well too.

8. Salmon

Eating salmon at least once a week will help alleviate some of the symptoms your child might be experiencing from ADHD. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. If you’re looking to mix things up a little, cut up salmon fillets and make a healthy spinach salad for dinner. It will be refreshing and healthy and will help eliminate ADHD symptoms for your child.

9. Whole Grain Cereals

Cereal can be a very healthy breakfast option for kids suffering from ADHD but there are a few key things to remember. First, you’ll always want to choose multi-grain options. Instead of normal Cheerios, choose multigrain. Secondly, you’ll want to avoid cereals with artificial colours and artificial sweeteners.  It simply means opt for kinds like Corn Flakes and Fiber instead of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.

10. White Fish

White fish is a great way to incorporate more Omega-3 fatty acids into you and your child’s diet. If you’re eating too much salmon (or simply looking for an alternative or addition to salmon) white fish is a great option. Serving white fish with a side salad will make for a delicious meal and will help keep your child’s ADHD symptoms at bay.

11. Beans

Beans, much like cheese and eggs, are a great source of protein. We can’t stress enough how important it is for children with ADHD to maintain a protein-healthy diet, so a handful of beans each day will go a long way in controlling their symptoms.

12. Grapefruit

Apples, pears and oranges are a great source but if you’re looking to change things up a little, grapefruit is another great alternative. Having a grapefruit with your morning breakfast (or a glass of grapefruit juice) will give your kid the nutrients he/she needs to go to school feeling great.

13. Chicken

Chicken boasts countless health benefits but the biggest nutritional factor when it comes to chicken is the amount of protein. Most kids love chicken and there are countless ways to incorporate it into your weekly meal planning. From chicken salads and chicken pizza to soups and stuffed chicken, there are an endless number of options that your kids will love. Adding protein to your child’s meals will improve their concentration and will increase the time their ADHD medication works.

Foods to Avoid With 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. 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 (Eat goat’s cheese instead).

6. 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.

7. Frozen Pizza 
Frozen pizzas are packed full of artificial colours and flavourings, 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 colours and flavouring, 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.

10. 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.

11. Fruit Juice
Most fruit juices are loaded with artificial colours and flavours. You should avoid drinking fruit juices unless they are 100 percent natural with no artificial colouring or flavouring. 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.

12. 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.

13. Red Meat 
Red meat has been known to cause an increase of symptoms for ADHD sufferers. 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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