Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

ADHD in Children Health Center

Font Size

Is There an ADHD Diet?

Not Really, but Certain Healthy Changes to Your Child's Diet May Help
WebMD Health News

Jan. 9, 2012 -- There isn’t a specific diet or magic vitamin that will curb hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and other symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but steering clear of certain unhealthy foods may make a difference, a new review shows.

Foods that may predispose a child to ADHD include:

  • Fast foods
  • Red meat
  • Processed meats
  • Potato chips
  • High-fat dairy foods
  • Soft drinks

Replacing these ADHD-linked foods with healthier choices including fish, vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain cereals may help improve some of the symptoms of ADHD. These are some of the findings of a review article in Pediatrics that looked at the role diet plays in treating ADHD.

As many as 5.4 million children aged 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, a behavioral disorder marked by trouble focusing, impulsive behaviors, and hyperactivity. ADHD is usually treated with medication and behavioral changes, such as adapting a regular routine. Many parents and doctors don’t like the idea of medication and would prefer a more natural or dietary approach.

“A healthy diet should be encouraged and an ADHD-provoking diet avoided,” says researcher J. Gordon Millichap, MD. He is a pediatric neurologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Also worth a try are supplements of omega-3 fatty acids. There is no consensus on how or even if these supplements help children with ADHD. But children with ADHD who have low levels of fatty acids may benefit from these supplements.

“Special elimination or hypoallergenic diets, omitting dyes, milk, and sugar, are time consuming and [should be] tried only with definite evidence of adverse response to these items,” Millichap says.

Healthy Diet May Improve ADHD Symptoms

“What makes the most sense is to look at a child’s diet and see what changes may be healthy in general and may also help improve ADHD symptoms,” says Marshall Teitelbaum, MD. He is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in private practice in Palm Beach, Fla.

“Cut back on soda, junk food, hot dogs, and processed foods,” he says. Many of the restrictive diets out there such as the Feingold diet are hard for children to stick with, he says. The Feingold diet was popular in the 1970s. It aims to cut out foods with artificial coloring and flavoring and certain preservatives.

Today on WebMD

doctor writing on clipboard
mother with child
disciplining a boy
daughter with her unhappy parents
preschool age girl sitting at desk
Child with adhd
father helping son with homework
children in sack race