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What are good diet tips for people with ADHD?

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Janet McKenzie, Naturopathic Nurse.

I suggest you undertake your dietary changes in two stages:

  1. Focus on changing the content of your diet to support the health of your brain and reduce ADHD symptoms
  2. Balance your caloric intake to your needs through portion control and regular exercise.

Most of the research done on ADHD dietary factors has been conducted on children; the implication of this is we don't know to what extent these factors are, or are not, involved in adults. Some studies have found that ADHD in children is associated with sensitivities to various foods and food additives. It may be worthwhile for you to have some testing done to identify possible sensitivities. Food sensitivites can contribute to excess weight, among other symptoms.

These studies ( Malondialdehyde levels in adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Project DyAdd: Fatty acids in adult dyslexia, ADHD and their comorbid combination ) found that poly-unsaturated fats, such as though found in corn oil, were associated with higher levels of ADHD symptoms. You may find you do better with the mono-unsaturated fats found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil.

This study found that ketogenic diets made mood problems better in men but worse in women (A 10 year follow-up of a national cohort ) - if the underlying theory is that sugar-sensitivity exacerbates A-ADHD and mood, then it might make sense to focus on sugar as the dietary variable to be manipulated, rather than protein.

Low blood sugar can be as big a problem as high blood sugar. Low blood sugar can contribute to low energy, anxiety and low mood. Your goal should be to stabilize your blood sugar through your food choices, and regular small feedings (every 3 to 4 hours). The frequent, mini-meal approach can also help you to lose weight.

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