Friday, April 8, 2011

Are certain foods triggering ADD symptoms in your child?

As parents we play a crucial role in the management of our children’s ADD/ADHD symptoms. And in order to do this successfully we have to be able to firstly identify the symptoms and secondly we have to be able to manage them correctly. We manage these symptoms by looking at a few different influencers like sleep, nutrition, exercise, supplementation, the list goes on. If we can optimize these influencers, we can minimize the symptoms of ADD.
“Trigger foods” have shown to increase the negative characteristics of ADD. Thus the correct nutrition is vital in controlling the effects of ADD.

Let’s have a closer look at what good nutrition looks like.

A balanced diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Additionally, a healthy diet is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
Consequently, when looking at ADD specifically, colored foods, sweets, candies, sugary cereals and energy drinks should be excluded. I’m reminded of a time when my daughters used to watch the cartoon The Gummi Bears. The Gummi Bears had a secret potion called Gummiberry Juice. It was a bright purple liquid that used to send them bouncing off the walls whenever the bears consumed it. This is what happens in the ADD brain when it’s loaded with sugars, colourants and other trigger ingredients.
Trigger foods commonly include sugar which is the main culprit of altering blood sugar levels and is considered by most experts to stimulate hyperactive behaviors.
The common forms of hidden sugar in foods:
  • white or cane sugars
  • high fructose corn syrups
  • sucrose
  • dextros
  • fructose
Caffeine is also labeled as a trigger food. Since caffeine is a stimulant and most children with ADD/ADHD are already over-stimulated, eliminating it from their diets makes good sense.
As a parent you can consult nutritionists who will be able to compile nutrition plans that will aid in battling the effects of ADD/ADHD. ADD nutrition plans have produced positive results in a number of children. Many parents and teachers report mild to significant improvements in the behaviors of an ADD child who is no longer consuming "trigger foods" on a regular basis.

Recommended ADHD Diet and Nutrition Plans

When compiling diet plans for children with ADD/ADHD you have to consider working towards the maintenance of a stable blood sugar level. Foods that will allow for such stability are high protein options such as eggs, lean meats, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There are also a lot of gluten-free options available to substitute breads and snacks. Organic foods, which are additive-free, are commonly included in ADD nutrition plans as well. In addition to ensuring that wholesome foods are widely accessible in the home, parents can also provide ADD children with supplements such as omega-3 fatty acid. Multi-vitamins should also be given on a regular basis.

What can parents do to ensure a balanced, nutritious diet?
  • Make sure to provide your child with many nutritious snacks during the day as to prevent children from becoming hungry in between meals. A child who is hungry is more likely to experience difficulty in maintaining concentration levels.
  • Make sure that your child doesn’t skip meals or snacks during the day. This might cause children to become moody as blood sugar levels decrease, resulting in less energy and difficulty to concentrate.
  • Make sure to include a wide variety of food groups in a child’s meal. Different food groups are burnt by the body at different rates, this allows for stable blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid adding unnecessary sugars to your child’s diet.This causes the blood sugar levesl to increase rapidly causing bursts of energy, only for the blood sugar levels to decrease again often leaving children with feelings of fatigue and the inability to concentrate.
  • Make sure to exclude food additives such as colourings or preservatives.
  • Before indiscriminately eliminating multiple foods, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with a physician and/or nutritionist.
The key thing to remember is that any change, whether it be a sleeping routine, nutrition or regular exercise, should be applied holistically. If your child eats a balanced diet during the week they should do so too over the weekends. It’s almost like growing a tree that only receives care, nurturance and water during the week and not over weekends. A healthy, holistic approach to nutrition will help you manage the effects of ADD.

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