Feed Your Child's Concentration: Nutrition and ADHD

It should come as no surprise that a carefully monitored diet can help control the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sugary foods and caffeine are notably responsible for hyperactivity in children. Eliminating trigger foods and ensuring the right amount of important nutrients isn't going to eliminate the potential need for medications or psychotherapy, but it can certainly help the brain function better and ease other symptoms, helping your son or daughter succeed. Food allergies, nutrient deficiencies and trigger foods in their diet could be contributing to your child's severity of ADHD. Here are some foods to avoid, along with foods you should add to their diet, in order to help them fight symptoms of ADHD.


Avoid simple carbohydrates. According to ADDitude Magazine, high glycemic foods cause a rapid release of insulin in the body which causes poor regulation of blood sugar and behavior right along with it. Low glycemic foods help your child to control their behavior because it releases the sugar slowly in the body. Instead of foods with sugar, corn syrup, candy and soft drinks, add in complex carbs found in foods like green veggies, whole grains, potatoes and beans. (via NutritionMD)

>> Read more: Why You Should Pay Closer Attention to the Glycemic Index

Avoid mercury. According to Everyday Health, mercury is hard to digest and will accumulate in the brain over time, which leads to hyperactivity and worsens symptoms of ADHD. Fish like shark, mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. Omega-3 fatty acids, however, help combat symptoms of ADHD so adding fish like salmon and tuna to the menu will actually be positive. Dairy products like eggs, soy milk and yogurt are also fortified with omega-3s. (via WebMD)

Avoid allergens. Some children are sensitive to certain foods, which can cause their ADHD to flare up. In order to determine which additives your child is allergic to, you will have to use the elimination method. A great place to start is to eliminate the top eight allergens one at a time. These include wheat, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, eggs, fish and shellfish. Adding supplements and nutrients your child is missing from their diet can help, but sometimes you might have to eliminate the food that is causing issues. (via Healthline)

Kid with a chef hat on and tomatoes over her eyes

Avoid artificial coloring. While there is no conclusive evidence that food coloring affects symptoms of ADHD, a study conducted in 2007 showed evidence that consumption of food dye was related to hyperactivity in children. Look at food labels to determine whether or not you want to buy a product and watch out for artificial coloring. Most likely, you can avoid food dye by getting natural foods and avoiding packaged products at the grocery.

>> Read more: 7 Additives You Didn't Know You Were Eating

Add protein. The body uses protein to make neurotransmitters, which helps the brain communicate with the body. Protein also regulates blood sugar and helps fight hyperactivity. So make sure your child starts the day with a protein-rich breakfast and be sure to include lean protein throughout the day. (via ADDitude Magazine)

Add supplements. Sometimes, your child might not be receiving the nutrients their body needs to combat symptoms of ADHD, so it's important that you ensure they are following a balanced diet. Otherwise, you can look into adding supplements like zinc, fish oil and melatonin. There isn't concrete evidence showing that filling nutritional gaps helps with ADHD symptoms, but if nothing else, your child's body will be healthy and ready to take on the challenges of an attention deficit disorder. Click here for Skinny Mom's Glossary of Supplements to learn more.


Taking a close look at the food you have in your pantry is a first step towards helping your child face ADHD and succeed in spite of their attention deficit disorder. While a healthier diet alone isn't the answer to a cure, it can ease symptoms and better equip the body to take on whatever challenge it faces. As always, consult your doctor for the best course of action to eliminate certain foods and to make sure your child is getting all the nutrients they need.

>> Read more: How to Treat ADHD with Nutrition