Is my diet the cause of my ADHD?

Is my diet the cause of my ADHD?

It has not been proven that food can cause ADHD, however some foods could worsen ADHD symptoms or affect behavior that mimics the signs of ADHD in learners. “Excessive use of caffeine and take-out or fast food, with a poor nutritional value, can cause kids to display behavior that might be confused with ADHD,” said Frank Barnhill, MD, an expert on ADHD and the author of “Mistaken for ADHD.”

The following foods might trigger ADHD-like symptoms:

  • Sugar
  • Candy or sweet
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated cold drinks
  • Preservatives
  • Additives
  • Cake Mixes and Frostings
  • Energy Drinks
  • High GI foods


Nutritional deficiencies may worsen ADHD symptoms. An ADHD diet that ensures you’re getting adequate levels of the right foods optimizes brain function.

Protein is important!

Foods rich in protein like lean beef, pork, poultry, eggs, nuts, beans, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. The body makes neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other, with the help of protein-rich foods. Protein can help maintain a balanced blood sugar level, which can help manage hyper-activity.

An ADHD correct diet should focus on “more” rather than “less”.

There is a clear link between children with ADHD and children suffering from obesity. It is important for a parent to make your child understand that he of she is not being limited. Rather teach them to increase their variety, to learn the modern new food ideas and to make better choices for their health. We are responsible to eat for the highest possible sustainable energy and to use our energy as wisely as we can.

Our performance is just as good, as the fuel that we use, to produce it!
Ensure a balanced diet filled with a variety of healthy foods including whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Encourage daily physical activity in the form of play. Include your children in the learning process of healthy eating and allow them to feel independent, as this will motivate them to make better choices.

Discuss with your dietician a more personalized approach to food for the family including an individualized supplementation protocol where needed.

Tanya Alberts Dietician & Associates


About the author:

Tanya has been providing dietary guidance since 2009 as a registered dietician licensed in South Africa. Her goal is to help patients understand the connection between diet and diagnosis for improved nutritional well being.

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