A Balanced Diet for Children with ADD/ADHD

A Balanced Diet for Children with ADD/ADHD

If you’ve looked at the root cause of your child’s behavioral problems, you will know that nutrition and digestion are important influencing factors. Diet changes take commitment, and you and your family must decide what changes are needed, and commit to a plan.

The following recommendations are for children aged 6 to 12, aimed to heal the body and mind.

Maximize green foods: 5-6 servings daily; 1 serving = ½ cup cooked, or 1 cup raw

• High water content vegetables/salads: Get creative. Choose a dark green leafy (kale, rapini, collards, spinach, Chinese greens, Swiss chard) & orange veggie at each meal. For snacks, serve dips with pureed roasted veggies like red peppers, eggplant, or onions. Add jicama, cucumber or bell pepper crudités for variety…not just celery & carrots! Wrap nori (seaweed) around cucumber wedges. Try different lettuces – endive, frisee, radicchio, and romaine. You decide what to buy – and let your child decide how and what to eat, with your guidance.• Steamed cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbages.• Root Veggies: Carrots, yams, beets, squashes, potatoes… all make GREAT root fries!

• Fresh vegetable juices: Kids love colors!

Read more about nutrition tips for picky eaters

Emphasize high protein: 3-4 servings daily

• Meat: Poultry, red meat, wild meat. (3 ounces = 1 serving)

• Soy foods: Great for stir fry; tofu, tempeh. (4 ounces = 1 serving)

• Beans (3/4 cup cooked = 1 serving)

• Eggs (1 large = 1 serving)

• Fish: cold water, wild, ocean fish: haddock, salmon, mackerel. (3 oz = 1 serving)

• Raw nuts and seeds and their butters: walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin, sunflower. Nuts and seeds are high in fat, but it is mostly good, unsaturated, essential fat. (¼ cup raw nut/seed or 2 tbsp of nut butter = 1 serving) 

Protein, like fat, helps satisfy hunger, and aids mineral absorption. When meals are satisfying, cravings don’t occur! Have crudités available with bean dips, eggs, or salmon/tuna or tofu salads, sliced meat (poultry, turkey, and lamb) or kabobs on a stick.

Fats: only healthy essential fats, are crucial: 3-6 servings/day (1 tsp = 1 serving)

•Omega-3 fats: found in cold water ocean fish, flax seed oil, walnuts, wild meat.

• Mono-unsaturated fats: olives & avocados.

A mixture of butter and flax oil (3:1 ratio) makes a healthy spread. Add flax oil to smoothies. Coconut, grapeseed, sesame oil, or ghee are best for sautéing. Favor unrefined and organic sunflower, olive, hempseed or flax oil for salads.  Whole grains: 5-6 servings/day (possibly more if the child is athletic)

1 serving = 1 slice of bread; ½ cup cooked cereal; ¾ cup cold cereal; ½ cup cooked rice/other grain; ½ cup cooked pasta.

Whole grains provide energy, fibre, essential B-vitamins, oils, minerals and essential trace minerals. It is crucial to combine whole grains with protein to prevent peaks and drops in blood sugar.

Choose from long grain brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt, kamut, rye. Choose cookies made with whole grains, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Use whole wheat or multi-grain pitas.

Calcium-rich foods: 4 servings/day

• 1 serving = 1 cup milk; 1 cup milk alternative; ¾ cup yogurt; 2 oz cheese; ¼ cup almonds; 2 tbsp tahini; 1 cup cooked broccoli/other dark green vegetable; ½ cup fortified orange juice or fortified soy food.

Cow’s milk is not digested very well by most people, and is a very allergenic food. It tends to prolong congestion and ear infections in susceptible individuals, especially children.

Moderate the intake of fruits: (2-3 servings per day):Choose organic, seasonal fruit.

Read more about teaching kids to eat seasonally

Avoid These Foods as Much as Possible:

• White flour pasta, breads, desserts, granola bars, anything made with “wheat flour”.

• Non-organic milk, cheese, and dairy foods.

• Red meat that is non-organic.

• Peanuts.

• Corn, unless whole grain & organic.

• Dried fruits (because of molds, sulfites, colorings, sugar)

Eliminate Entirely:• Hydrogenated oils, trans fats, margarine, & foods made with them.

• Caffeinated beverages & soda.

• Fruit juices: unless freshly juiced and combined with a protein.

• Take out foods: most are made with cream sauces or are fried.

• Ice cream: substitute frozen yogurt-add fruit and other toppings.

• Processed meats.

• Table salt.

• White sugar and other sweeteners: glucose, high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, aspartame.

The only side effects you have to worry about with the natural approach are that your family will be healthier and you will spend more time together! Any step you take to help your child overcome their behavioral issues is an important piece of the puzzle.

READ PART ONE: Understanding the Root Causes of Your Child’s ADD/ADHD

References:?Feingold, B.F., MD. Why Your Child is Hyperactive. Random House, New York, 1975.

Laurell, G.C., PhD, & Lyon, M.R., MD. Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? Mind Publishing, Calgary, 2002.

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