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ADHD in many cases has been linked to diet, which includes food allergies and nutritional deficiencies…simply eliminating certain foods or adding others may reduce symptoms or eliminate them altogether. Hyperactive children are especially vulnerable as they are ‘hyper' sensitive to sugar and other stimulants. Have you ever noticed how your child's behavior changes very shortly after he or she consumes a soft drink, sugary cereals or chocolate? We believe it is worth attempting to address the ‘root' of the problem first, if it is indeed nutritional, before ingesting the potentially toxin pharmaceutical alternatives that merely mask the symptoms. Making healthy food choices for you and your child is NOT difficult. There is NO downside to adopting a healthy eating program and huge benefits for everyone, whether dealing with a current health issue or preventing future ones.
Another suggestion for a healthy diet may be to consider buying certified organic products…these are foods which are grown without the use of potentially harmful long-lasting pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Since organic foods are also grown without genetically modified seeds, sewage sludge or irradiation, some people feel that this is a more wholesome choice. If you choose to adopt the strategy to “cleanse” the body first to reduce symptoms of ADD, this may be an option you would like to consider. Imagine if we put dirty fuel in our cars and never changed the oil…how efficiently do you think they would run?
Below is a copy of an AHDD diet eating program for ADHD kids and adults. It is not a very strict program unless you are a regular at fast food restaurants. This is a “back to the basics” program and is recommended for every member of the family…not just someone with ADHD.
First, what NOT to eat for TWO WEEKS:
1) NO DAIRY PRODUCTS, especially cow's milk. This is the single most important restriction. Instead try Almond milk, Rice milk, or Better Than Milk. Drink water instead of milk. In fact, drink lots of water. The brain is about 80% water, and increasing your water intake to 7 to 10 glasses per day might be helpful all by itself. Sodas, Gatorade, teas, icees, etc., do not count as water. Water counts as water.
2) NO YELLOW FOODS. Especially Corn or Squash. Bananas are white. Don't eat the peel.
3) NO JUNK FOODS. If it comes in a cellophane wrapper, don't eat it.
4) NO FRUIT JUICES. Too much sugar content. One small glass of apple juice has the sugar content of eight apples. Later on you can have juice, but dilute it with water 50/50.
5) CUT SUGAR INTAKE BY 90%. If you can, cut it down to zero. Sugar is in just about everything, but give it a try. Do your best without going crazy.
6) CUT CHOCOLATE BY 90%. No more than a single piece, once a week.
7) NO NUTRASWEET. None. Period.
8) NO PROCESSED MEATS and NO MSG. Only get meats with labels that say, “Turkey and Water,” etc. If the meat has chemicals listed that you can't pronounce, don't buy it.
9) CUT FRIED FOODS BY 90%.
10) AVOID FOOD COLORINGS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. See if your child is sensitive to any particular colors, such as Reds, Yellows, etc. For now, though, avoid all if possible.
SUMMARY: Just eat foods that God made for a while. Eat like people did in the 1940's. Go to a used book store and get a Betty Crocker's Cook Book for recipe ideas. There really are about 10,000 meals that you CAN eat. Just not much in the way of “fast foods” or “convenience” foods.
AFTER TWO WEEKS begin adding these foods back into your diet, one food every other day. Eat A LOT of that food every day for four days. If you have a problem with one of the foods, you will see some kind of a “reaction” within four days. The reaction can vary from big red splotches on the body to ears turning bright red to explosive temper outbursts. If there's a problem, you'll know. If there's no problem, enjoy the food.
1) FOR BREAKFAST SERVE HIGH PROTEIN, LOW CARBOHYDRATE MEALS. Say, “Good-bye,” to Breakfast cereals and milk. Serve 60% Protein and 40% Carbohydrates for Breakfast. Other meals should be 50% / 50%.
2) PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS might be needed to get the added protein for Breakfast. They are often very helpful in the afternoon as well. Here is our favorite recipe for a Protein Shake:
a) Make a cup of coffee, using one of General Mills' International Coffees, or something like that, with a flavor that you or your child will like (yes, I know I'm breaking my own rules here, as these coffees have dried milk and some sugar, but I'm trying to get your kid to actually drink the thing, and also get some caffeine mixed with the protein.). Pour the hot coffee into a blender with about 6 oz of ice. Turn on the blender for a bit.
b) Add a good quality protein powder. There are many good ones available. If you can't find one that you like, ask at your local health food store. Get protein powders that are mostly protein and very little carbohydrate. Add between 15 and 20 grams of protein to the cold coffee in the blender.
c) Turn on the blender again.
d) Drink it up.
This protein shake is helpful for a lot of people. For many small kids, and many adults, this recipe works about as well as a small dose of Ritalin (100 mg of caffeine is roughly the same as 5 mg of Ritalin). So many who might just take a small dose of Ritalin might get away with just doing this.
Don't forget, though, that even caffeine can have some side effects. Every once in a while we find someone that has problems with the caffeine in the coffee. Usually, though, the caffeine in the coffee helps the person to focus better. The protein helps to feed the brain. If you find this helpful, have one with Breakfast, and one around 3 pm. If it is not helpful, then don't bother with it.
3) MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS may be helpful. Colloidal Minerals or fully chelated minerals are the best. We like the MinPac from VAXA, but there are several good choices. Don't buy minerals in the grocery store. Get good minerals.
4) ATTEND, EXTRESS, or MEMORIN from VAXA. We recommend the "Attend" product for everyone. "Extress" is recommended in addition for those with problems with hyperactivity and temper, and "Memorin," in addition to the "Attend," for those with poor concentration or memory. These are strongly recommended. Here is more information on ATTEND, the amino acid based, homeopathic medicine that is a great alternative to ritalin.
5) FLAX SEED or PRIMROSE OIL. High sources of Omega oils. Borage oils and some fish oils are good as well. Very important. Mix about a spoonful a day into foods as you prepare them, or add to salad dressings, etc.
6) EAT LOTS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Avoid Aluminum exposure. Eat in a healthy manner.
Wishing you the best of success,
Doug Cowan, Psy.D., MFCC
Oneaddplace.com gives special thanks to Douglas Cowan, Psy.D. for the use of this information.