Is There an ADHD Diet?
Not Really, but Certain Healthy Changes to Your Child's Diet May Help
Healthy Diet May Improve ADHD Symptoms continued...
“If you are going to try something, it may as well be something that will stick,” Teitelbaum tells WebMD.
There is also a role for trial and error. “If someone is more sensitive to sugar, pay attention and keep it in moderation,” he says.
The whole family has to be on board with any changes. “You can't tell a child to eat a special diet when the rest of the family isn't,” Teitelbaum says.
Stephen Grcevich, MD, says medication and behavioral changes should always come first, especially for children with issues in addition to ADHD, such as anxiety or depression. Grcevich is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Family Center by the Falls in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
“Do the things that we know work best first,” he says. Diet is not a substitute for these tried-and-true treatments, he says.
Grcevich is also against highly restrictive diets largely because they are difficult to comply with for the long haul. But “if your kid swings from the chandelier every time you give them a diet soda, don't give it to them anymore,” he says.
First, do no harm, adds Andrew Adesman, MD. He is the chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.
“There are several different options that are likely not harmful and may offer some benefit, including supplementing omega-3 and iron and zinc, if a child is deficient,” he says.
Avoiding ADHD-associated foods may not make a big difference in ADHD symptoms, but cutting out these foods may have other health benefits such as reducing your child’s risk of being overweight or obese, he says.
Feingold Diet Advocate Responds
Jane Hersey is the director of the Feingold Association. She takes issue with some of the points made in the new study. “The Feingold diet is neither ‘complicated’ nor ‘disruptive,'” she says in an email.
It is the synthetic additives in the foods, drinks, and candy that are the big offenders, not the sugar, Hersey says.