ADHD Diet: How to Control ADHD Symptoms with Diet

adhd dietRegardless of who you are, your diet will have an effect on your lifestyle.  For adults or children suffering from ADHD, however, certain types of food can either work to improve or worsen the symptoms and effects of ADHD.  For this reason, it is important that ADHD sufferers receive adequate levels of the right types of food in effort to optimize their brain function and attention span.

The tricky thing with ADHD and food is that in some medication given to ADHD patients, there are side effects such as: lack of appetite, depression, or inability to sleep.  All of these factors can lead to poor food choices.  To help keep an adult, child, or teen who is suffering from ADHD on the right track, consider creating a meal plan that will incorporate the following healthy food choices into their diet.

Foods to Eat

Protein:  Foods that are rich in protein can have beneficial effects on the symptoms of ADHD.  This is because foods that are rich in protein can help prevent surges in blood sugar, which increases hyperactivity.  Hyperactivity is something you want to avoid in ADHD sufferers, as they have problems concentrating as it is.

  • Aim to incorporate proteins such as lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products  into the diet of ADHD sufferers.
  • Make sure there is a lean protein in breakfast, as well as throughout the day.
  • Protein-rich foods help the body make brain-awakening neurotransmitters which can help a person maintain concentration levels.

Balanced Meals:  For ADHD suffers that are in charge of their own meals, one of their biggest hurdles is knowing how to incorporate all of the necessary food groups.  When creating meals, if you have ADHD or for someone with the illness, it is important to incorporate:

  • Vegetables
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Fruits
  • Plenty of protein
  • It can also be helpful to eat several servings of whole grains that are rich in fiber throughout the day to prevent blood sugar levels from drastically fluctuating.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  For those suffering from ADHD, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that keep brain and nerve cell function operating effectively.  Studies have shown that fish such as tuna, sardines, or salmon can reduce symptoms of ADHD up to 50%.  This is because ADHD sufferers tend to have low blood levels of omega-3, and if they incorporate these fatty acids into their diet, omega-3s can tend to break down in their bodies rapidly.

Supplements to Incorporate

Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium:  These three minerals work together to creative positive and calming effects on the brain.

  • Zinc can work to regulate the dopamine neurotransmitter.  Low levels of dopamine are correlated with the inability to pay attention.
  • Iron is also necessary for making dopamine, and low iron levels are correlated with cognitive deficits and severe cases of ADHD.
  • Magnesium is used to make neurotransmitters that help improve attention and concentration, and that have a calming effect on the brain.

Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium are also all found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, soy, and fortified cereals.  However, a multivitamin with iron is a definite way to ensure that you or an ADHD sufferer gets the daily recommended value of these minerals.

B Vitamins:  Studies have shown that if you give children who have low levels of B a supplement, it will help to improve their IQ scores and reduce any aggression or antisocial behavior.

Multivitamin  or Multimineral:  If an ADHD sufferer is a picky eater, adding a daily multivitamin or multiminteral to their diet will ensure that they receive the essential vitamins and nutrients that they need.  Especially for children, consider Hero Yummi Bears Multi-Vitamin + Minerals, as these contain no artificial colors and added flavors.

Picamilon:  Picamilon is a combination of the B-vitamin niacin and gamma-aminobutryic acid.  Picamilon is said to increase the blood flow to the brain and has mild simulative effects.  These factors help to improve alertness and attention in an individual as well as reducing aggressive behavior.


Herbs can work to improve blood flow to the brain.  This is important for people with ADHD, because it will help to increase their alertness and reduce any aggressive behavior.

  • Ginkgo and Ginseng:  These two herbs can act as stimulants without the side effects brought on by ADHD medication.
  • Pycnogenol:  This herb is an extract made from pine bark, and was found to improve hyperactivity and sharpen one’s attention, concentration, and visual-motor coordination.  It is also rich in polyphenols, which protect brain cells from free radicals.
  • Rhodiola Rosea:  Rhodiola Rosea can improve one’s alertness, attention, and accuracy.

Foods to Avoid

adhd dietWhile there are a good amount of foods that you want to incorporate into the diets of ADHD sufferers, there are also a number of foods that you are going to want them to stay away from.  These foods only act to worsen the effects and symptoms of ADHD.

High-Sugar Foods and Snacks:  Foods and snacks that are high in added sugars should be avoided by most people.  However, people, and especially children, who suffer from ADHD react strongly to large amounts of sugar and increase their hyperactivity, destructive habits, and restlessness.

  • Avoid fruit “drinks”, as they are usually higher in sugar than regular fruit juice.
  • Read food labels carefully and look out for foods that are: high-fructose corn sweetener, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, dextrose, maltodextrin, sucrose, molasses, and malt syrup.

Artificial Dyes and Preservatives:  ADHD sufferers are adversely affected by food additives.

  • Avoid colorful cereals, such as Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.
  • Avoid any foods that appear to have color-additives.

Allergy causing foods:  Certain foods such as gluten, wheat, corn, and soy can encourage children to lose focus and increase they hyperactivity.  In those suffering from ADHD, it can also be helpful to test for food allergies.

Diet Modifications

With the studies showing that there is a strong relationship between ADHD and the food that one consumes, it is important to develop or follow an ADHD diet or meal plan.  By finding out which foods and supplements make a diet ADHD-friendly, you can help decrease and hopefully eliminate some ADHD symptoms.  If you are looking to learn more about ADHD and some tips and tools for making life with ADHD easier, enroll in this rough guide to ADHD for more insight.