Diet and ADHD

My seven year old was diagnosed with ADHD recently and I have been trying to gather information about what foods to avoid, and from what I have been hearing it covers about everything we eat! Which foods should I try to cut out of his diet first? What generally causes the worst reactions in children with this? Is there any combination of vitamins that may help?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

The following information was compiled by Kelly Williams, a senior dietetics student at the University of Vermont:

It's great that you want to make a difficult situation, which ADHD can sometimes be, better by finding ways to help your son. ADHD has been linked to many factors, including genetics, child's environment, and nutrition. As far as nutrition goes, not much is known about how diet and ADHD are related. Some foods linked to ADHD are chocolate, or sugar in general, and food additives. There are not many controlled studies that have been done, so I would be wary of any information that you may read about ADHD and food. It seems that if food does affect a child, the child is usually of preschool age, so this cannot apply to your seven year old son.

Aside from being diagnosed with ADHD, some children do have proven food allergies. You will want to rule out any food allergies as being a cause for your concern. Also, be sure to avoid any caffeine containing foods. As with adults, a child may feel edgy, or have trouble sleeping should he consume caffeine.

Medication may also interfere with your child's appetite, so be sure to consult with your pharmacists or doctor about that possibility.

I would recommend that the best thing you could do for your son is make sure he has a balanced diet and eats a variety of foods. Some foods that some children do not have enough of are milk, fruit, and vegetables. Also, try having quiet meal time with your son; this will help relax him and you. One final suggestion is to have your son eat smaller servings of food throughout the day. As for vitamins, if your son is not eating a balanced diet, then I would recommend that you give a children's multivitamin, such as Flintstones, to him.

I know this is a very difficult situation and can be frustrating, but contrary to popular believe, a child's diet has not ever been proven to be a cause of ADHD. My answer may seem vague, but there is not much information to go by. I hope that I have helped in some way. Good luck in everything and take care.

Sincerely,
Kelly Williams
Dietetic Student at The university of Vermont

Sincerely,
Sue Gilbert

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