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Do Diet Restrictions Really Help Children With ADHD?

Not all doctors, nutritionists, and parents agree when it comes to the topic of dietary restrictions as a treatment for ADHD . According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a major study on what is called the Feingold-type diet showed that certain dietary restrictions helped improve the symptoms of ADHD, but never to the degree that the condition is cured. (Weathers, 2011) However, parents often believe that it is worth the extra effort to see what effect dietary restrictions may have on their child.

The Feingold-type diet consists of eliminating common allergens such as wheat, eggs, dairy, tree nuts, other nuts, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes) and corn. These foods are removed from the child's diet entirely and then gradually re-introduced. A careful record is kept to help determine which foods make symptoms worse. This approach is practical and will reveal the dietary restrictions that may help for any given child.

However, there are numerous other nutritional considerations that have never been formally taken into account except by select few physicians who have taken a public stance to inform parents of children with ADHD that the real issue is what the children are NOT eating. The reality is that the standard American diet (SAD) is grossly deficient in essential nutrients. There are many foods that children should be eating, but these foods are not part of their diets. If a food allergy is discovered and confirmed by a physician, only then should foods be eliminated.

To begin making a real difference in your child's eating habits, do one simple thing: eliminate packaged, processed foods, fast food and artificial colors. It is understood that this is a difficult task for parents because kids can be very picky. Don't give up, experts have indicated that it can take multiple attempts, as much as 10-12 times, to introduce a new food into your child's diet.

Next, add whole foods into your child's diet and include dietary supplements that can help. A multivitamin is fine, but many on the market contain too little of each nutrient (100% of the RDA/RDI/kg is based on standards set half a century ago). Find an all natural chewable multivitamin without artificial colors or flavors. DHA, an important fatty acid commonly found in fish, is another important supplement. It helps form healthy brain cells.


Dr. Phil McGraw, commonly known as "Doctor Phil", takes one of the most reasonable approaches to an ADD/ADHD diet by encouraging the use of whole foods in the diet after food allergies have been ruled out. He and Dr. Lawlis, creator of the Hero's Diet Plan both agree with nutritionists around the world that the most important issue to be addressed is the elimination of packaged, processed, colored, dried or bottled food. These are the "junk foods" to be eliminated from the diet of a child with ADHD and from the diet of the entire family to set an example. It is simple‌ if it doesn't look like a vegetable, grain, fruit, legume, fresh healthy meats (no nuggets of any kind), or root then get rid of it. It may or may not be a cure, but a healthier life style will certainly help the whole family maintain the energy and drive needed to manage the symptoms of ADHD.

Weathers, M. (2011). ADHD and Diet Reviewed. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from adhdhelp.org: http://www.adhdhelp.org

About Author : Cathryn is a working mother of three. A self-professed health and fitness nut, Cathryn loves to research and write about health and wellness related topics. For further inquiries on ADHD Diet Tips you can visit http://www.cathrynharperpress.com/


Do Diet Restrictions Really Help Children With ADHD?