Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2019

How Nutrition Helps Calm Children with ADHD

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ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is identified as one of the most common forms of psychiatric illness seen in children. While medications such as Ritalin are often used to treat ADHD sufferers, improved nutrition has long since been recognised to play an important role in helping improve symptoms.

Foods to Calm Children with ADHD

In addition to therapy and medication approaches to treatment of ADHD, there has been much interest and research undertaken into how improving a child’s diet may reduce symptoms associated with the condition. Through making small changes, such as avoiding certain food colourings, significant benefits may be experienced. In Eat Yourself Happy, Isaac & Isaac (2004) highlight foods which may help calm ADHD children, to include the following:

Fish – rich in omega-3, improves behaviour of ADHD sufferers
Dairy products – help improve concentration
Nuts/seeds/whole grains – rich in B vitamins, improve behaviour
Eating carbohydrate/protein together – helps boost serotonin levels
Nuts/leafy green vegetables – zinc/magnesium rich foods help concentration

For some children suffering with ADHD, it may be very difficult to introduce new foods to help improve symptoms. In this case, it is well worth considering giving them a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, omega-3 supplement or vitamin B complex. For more information on nutritional supplements helpful for children with ADHD, the family doctor may provide a referral to a specially trained nutritionist.

ADHD Sufferers – Foods to Avoid

Nutrition, ADHD

It is also worth looking at which foods have been identified as likely to cause problems and worsen ADHD symptoms in children. One key type of food best to avoid is heavily processed, ready-meals. which tend to be very high in additives. According to Isaac & Isaac (2004), other foods/drinks to avoid or limit in children suffering from ADHD, include as follows:

Fizzy drinks
Chicken nuggets (commercially produced)
Foods containing tartrazine yellow food colouring
Processed cheese slices
Cakes/biscuits (commercially produced)

In order to make life easier at home, if the ADHD child has siblings, then it may be best to avoid having trigger foods in the home. Getting children interested in making healthy snacks will also help to get them used to eating foods which are less likely to cause problems or aggravate ADHD symptoms.

As highlighted above, whilst medications and therapy are commonly used to help children with ADHD, in recent years improved nutrition has been identified to play a part, in alleviating certain symptoms associated with this psychiatric condition. Eating a diet rich in zinc, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3 and avoiding processed foods should have positive results.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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