ADHD Healthy Lifestyle Recommendations
Research indicates that diet changes, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle shifts may assist in management of ADHD symptoms. A consultation with a mental health professional may help assess how these factors may impact you or your loved one’s symptoms and impairments and offer recommendations for changes that could be of benefit. These interventions can be combined with other treatment options for a holistic approach. The evidence for lifestyle interventions is less robust than the evidence for medication and behavioral interventions. However, they may have a favorable benefit vs. risk profile.
While the current research does not support a definitive ADHD diet, we do know that proper nutrition is vital to healthy brain development and has the potential to reduce some symptoms associated with ADHD.

✔️ Protein-rich Foods: Protein stabilizes blood sugar, which can prevent hyperactivity from blood sugar spikes and fatigue from blood sugar crashes. Protein is also essential for the production of neurotransmitters, which help brain cells function and communicate with each other. Protein-rich foods, include: eggs, certain dairy products, chicken, fish, meat, beans, lentils, and nuts.

✔️ Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that play a key role in heart and brain health. Some studies show that kids with ADHD may metabolize Omega-3 fatty acids differentially, leading to deficiencies. Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include: fish, certain nuts and seeds, avocados, and supplements.

✔️ Healthy Fats: Some stimulant medications can cause appetite suppression. If your child is eating smaller portions, ensure he/she is getting enough healthy fats such as: nut butters, hummus, full fat Greek yogurt or other dairy products. You can also add butter, olive oil, or cheese to foods to increase caloric intake.

✔️ Vitamins & Minerals: Some studies have demonstrated that kids with ADHD often have deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B6. Try including a diet rich in the following vitamins and minerals: 
beef, liver, kidney beans, tofu
meat, shellfish, beans, nuts
pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, peanuts
Vitamin B6
eggs, fish, peanuts, potatoes, bananas
Vitamin D
fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified foods
Sugar & Processed Foods: Sugary foods can cause blood sugar spikes, which can affect concentration and energy levels. Limit foods with sugar and refined carbohydrates such as cookies, chips, white breads and pastas, sodas, candy, and sports drinks/juices.

Allergens: If your child has known food allergies, avoid exposure to those foods as they may impact cognitive function and worsen ADHD symptoms. Common food allergens include: gluten, soy, dairy, and nuts.

Artificial Additives: Artificial additives and preservatives may negatively affect some children with ADHD. Avoid foods that contain artificial coloring or flavoring and preservatives, such as sodium benzoate.
Some research suggests that children with ADHD may be more prone to a variety of sleep problems and have higher rates of daytime sleepiness, which can impact their cognitive function. Getting enough quality sleep is vital for optimal physical and mental health. Kids between the ages of 6 through 13 should be getting 9-11 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers between the ages of 14 through 17 should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Here are some tips on how to get your child to improve sleep quality and quantity:
  • Optimize the bedroom environment: Eliminate extra lighting, keep the temperature cool, and only use the bed for sleeping (not homework or other activities).

  • Set consistent sleep and wake times: Put your child to bed and wake him/her up at the same time each day, avoid sleeping in on weekends, and try to eliminate naps longer than 20 minutes to “catch up” on sleep.

  • Eliminate certain sleep impediments: Avoid large meals and caffeine before bed, stop electronic use at least one hour prior to bedtime, and ensure that exercise is performed earlier in the day so it does not disrupt sleep.
Exercise has a multitude of physical and cognitive benefits. While exercise will not cure ADHD, it has the potential to improve focus and mood. Kids between the ages of 6 through 17 should be getting 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Here are some tips on how you can get your child to increase physical activity:
  • Make exercise fun: Enroll your child in a sport or physical activity that he/she enjoys.

  • Get creative: Incorporate physical activity into normal routines. For example, bring your child with you to the grocery store for a “scavenger hunt.” Your groceries get done and your child gets some activity.

  • Do it together: It’s always more motivating to exercise with a buddy. Go on a family walk together.

  • Incorporate rewards and incentives: Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to motivate and reward behavior, especially when the behavior is not inherently motivating to your child.

  • Limit things that encourage sedentary behavior: Electronics and social media are often the biggest barriers to kids getting the exercise that they need. Put limits on the amount of time your child is allowed to use electronics each day and make their use contingent upon completing their physical activity requirements. 
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