If your child has ADHD, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) one of the most important things to look after is diet and nutrition. Just like any other kid, your child needs essential nutrients for his activities of daily living. A child with ADHD may have special needs. Parents, teachers and health care providers of children with this condition needs to be aware of the foods that will help the child in his daily living.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood mental conditions. This order appears and can be diagnosed at an early age. When the child with ADHD starts pre-school, parents, teachers and playmates may notice something different from this child. A child or adult with this disorder may have difficulty in inhibiting their spontaneous responses—from movement, to speech, and to attentiveness.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Most of the symptoms of ADHD generally occur before the age of 7. It can be difficult to distinguish the symptoms between ADHD and a child with normal kid behaviour. Typical symptoms includes inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour. These three symptoms are the cornerstone of the diagnosis of the disorder. A child entering school may have difficulty in following instructions and may have inattentiveness to speakers or teachers. The child often experiences being reprimanded most of the time because of his ‘different behavior’ apart from the other kids. The condition and symptoms may continue into adulthood. However, adults may have a better ability to control impulsive responses as with conditioning through time.
The child may have a very short attention span, cannot sit still, and may not be able to listen or take time to comprehend. They often make careless mistakes, have trouble making plans and finishing projects, and gets bored easily. Simple tasks can be very limited for a child with this condition due to very short attention span. In spontaneous speech, the child cannot hold impulses and may even blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Children with ADHD are often labelled as undisciplined but as much as they try hard to be good at all times, they cannot control their hyperactive impulses, cannot follow through game directions, guesses rather than taking time to think or solve a problem, have difficulty in staying quiet, moves about like a machine, and has difficulty in paying attention to details. It is not true that children with ADHD cannot pay attention at all times. Their problem is the short attention span. This happens for routines or if they find an activity boring but they can surely pay attention to activities they enjoy doing—but will less attention time.
Diet and ADHD
Diet is an important factor in children with ADHD. They love to move about and cannot be withheld in their seats. Finger foods are good choices as they can be eaten with convenience and comfort. Finger foods such as fried chicken, French fries, pizza, brownies can be good options for snacking since they cannot spend so much time in one seat. A child with ADHD enjoys moving and running about—like they never get tired. Make sure that they are high caloric foods since these active kids will be needing extra energy for their physical activities.
Small frequent feedings can be a plan of care to remember for a child with ADHD. He may suddenly leave his food and do something else. It should be okay as long as you try to feed the child again when there is a great opportunity.
In addition to finger foods, according to many studies, a good balanced diet for anyone should include Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs. These are fats that we need to get from our diets. EFA’s include Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Essential fatty acids are fats that the body cannot make itself. The Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA or Docosahexaenoic Acid is an essential fatty acid found in food sources such as cold water fish, seaweeds, and oil supplements. Studies have shown that children with learning disorders, including those with ADHD often have an EFA deficiency. A child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder experiences a miscommunication between brain cells wherein a message can be fired but not received. The essential fatty acids help the brain cells to receive the messages sent between nerve synapses, thus preventing the sending neuron from scooping up its own message. Good food source of Essential Fatty Acids are:
Fish oil supplements
Omega-3 fortified milk and bread
Foods to Avoid in a Child with ADHD
Children should not be expected to drink caffeinated drinks since it is a stimulant, most especially for a child with ADHD. A child with ADHD will be more jumpy and more hyperactive when he ingests these stimulant drinks. Also, foods that are high in sugar and have food coloring additives should be avoided as much as possible. Juices should be diluted and candies, chocolates, and sodas should be also avoided. Read product labels to guide you in choosing foods to purchase in a grocery or department store. Most foods containing these essential fatty acids are proud enough to label them for those consumers who are looking for it.