Diet for ADHD with Remarkable Benefits

Updated on November 20th, 2019
Diet for ADHD

Do you find difficulty in paying attention? Do you feel restless and impatient most of the times? If these problems are recurring in your daily life, then you probably have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It is a disorder that makes it hard for a person to pay attention or control impulsiveness. He/she may also feel restless and almost always behave active or hyperactive. It affects both children and adults. ADHD does not affect children alone. Nearly 4% of adults in the USA have ADHD.

So don’t you think you should know the causes, symptoms as well as the diet for ADHD to fight this disorder? Then check them all out right below.

Diet for ADHD

protein-rich diet foods

The ADHD diet consists of a variety of nutritious foods along with nutritional supplements. The diet for ADHD(1) is designed in a way to develop the brain and nervous system. The consumption of these foods and supplements help with the improvement of concentration and cognitive performance. You should focus on the following aspects of the diet.

[Also Read: Top 8 Home Remedies for ADHD]

General Nutrition

Eat foods that help to improve and alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.

Diet for Supplementation

Add more vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to the diet to fight against deficiency and symptoms of ADHD.

Diet for Elimination

This diet consists of foods that you need to avoid, like processed food and junk food, which tend to trigger the signs and symptoms of ADHD.

What to Include in Your Diet Plan?

Adherence to a balanced diet for ADHD is imperative for the natural treatment of its symptoms. Follow through with the tips, ground rules, and instructions on a diet for ADHD given below, and the symptoms will alleviate in no time.

Rule 1: Focus on Calories of High Quality but Keep It Limited

Better the quality of food, more improvement in mind and body. Eat foods of high quality and be cautious of the calorie count. An unhealthy gain in weight is one of the primary causes of restlessness and hyperactivity.

Focus on the high-quality calories such as cinnamon roll (720 calories), small quiche (1000 calories), salad of spinach, blueberries, salmon, apples, red bell pepper, and walnuts (400 calories) to enhance the physical energy and mental performance.

However, this rule is not as simple as intake and elimination of calories. Some calories adversely affect health, hormones, and taste buds. Avoid the consumption of processed and sugary foods and eat healthy and high-quality foods instead that stimulate energy and aids in metabolism.

Rule 2: Chug in the Water

Glass of Water

80% of the brain is made of water. The consumption of excessive alcohol and caffeinated beverages dehydrate the brain and impair reasoning, judgment, and cognition. Make sure that you drink the right amount of water throughout the day to curb the symptoms of ADHD. A general ground rule is to drink a particular volume of water that is equivalent to about 120 ounces daily.

Drinking water is especially necessary for athletes for the replenishment of electrolytes and salt. Cut out the sugary beverages and say no to processed fruit juices to eliminate almost 400 calories on an average. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water to attain mental and physical rest and peace.

Rule 3: Embrace the Goodness of High-Quality and Lean Protein

Begin your day with a good dose of healthy protein to enhance your physical and mental performance and concentration power. The intake of protein-rich foods helps in the regulation of blood sugar and also works to improve the health of the brain and nervous system. However, you need to avoid an excess dose of protein as that might result in oxidative damage.

Invest protein foods in your diet for ADHD, such as wild fish, chicken, turkey, beans, vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, and nuts. Protein powders can also help but check their content. Pea and rice protein blends are preferable.

Whey protein has casein that acts as an excitotoxin in the brain and can be excessively stimulating for the nerves. Avoid the addition of sugar and other synthetic agents to the protein powders.

[Also Read: Supplements for ADHD]

Rule 4: Say Yes to Healthy Fats

Healthy and essential fatty acids improve health to a great extent. There is a reason behind them being called “essential” fatty acids. Almost 60% of the brain comprises of fats, and so essential fatty acids make for an excellent cure for ADHD.

Get rid of the unhealthy fatty acids from the diet such as trans fats, fats obtained from industrially farmed or cheaply raised animals that feed on soy and corn, fried fats, and fats present in burgers and pizzas. Such fats tend to disrupt the hormonal balance and aggravate the symptoms of ADHD(2).

Switch to healthy fats that comprise of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for your diet for ADHD. These essential fatty acids are present in foods such as salmon, avocado, sardine, chia seeds, walnuts, avocado, nuts and seeds, and leafy green veggies.

Rule 5: Focus on Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spice consist of incredible medicinal properties. The following herbs and spices are suitable for the diet for ADHD:

  • Turmeric is rich in chemical compounds that can also cure plaque, which causes Alzheimer’s Disease and ADHD.
  • Extract of saffron is highly effective for the cure of depression.
  • Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage can help to enhance memory power.
  • Cinnamon works to improve attentiveness and regulates blood sugar level as well. It is also rich in antioxidants.
  • Oregano and garlic enhance blood circulation in the brain.
  • Capsaicin, gingerol, and piperine of cayenne, ginger, and black pepper work to improve metabolism.

Diet for ADHD for Kids

Kids need a healthy dose of nutrients for the prevention and cure of ADHD. Check out the following foods to combat the symptoms of ADHD in children. These foods are excellent for the diet for ADHD child.

1. Fruits and Vegetables

vegetables and fruits

Fruits and veggies constitute a rich source of minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins that are essential for growing kids. Fresh fruits and vegetables make for a delicious snack. Fruits can curb sugar cravings as well.

2. Whole Grains

Unrefined whole grains that consist of germ and bran are suitable for the cure of ADHD in children. Whole grains are rich in fiber and possess a rich variety of nutrients. Include whole grains like cereals, snack foods, bread into your diet for ADHD.

3. Protein

Protein is essential for the growth and development of muscles and tissues. Meat is rich in protein. Eat the lean cuts of meat to avoid the consumption of excess fats and stay away from processed meat. If your child is a vegetarian, then you can go for foods like beans, nuts, peas, and dairy.

4. Healthy Fats

Focus on the healthy fatty foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats(3). Include the following healthy fatty foods in your diet.

  • Foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, peanut oil, and canola oil.
  • Foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fats like corn, soybeans, sesame seeds, safflower oil, legumes, and sunflower oil.
  • Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like herring, salmon, mackerel, sardine, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.

5. Foods Rich in Calcium

calcium diet
Image: ShutterStock

Calcium fortifies the bones and teeth and is crucial during the phase from childhood to adolescence. Calcium is also essential for the production of hormones and the generation of nerve impulses.

Include calcium-rich foods in the ADHD diet like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Besides, calcium is also present in plant-based milk like almond milk, flax milk, and soy milk. Some other sources of calcium include broccoli, lentils, beans, canned fish, and leafy green veggies.

[Also Read: Magnesium for ADHD Treatment]

Foods for ADHD

Beginning the Day with a Protein-Rich Breakfast Is Excellent for the Diet for ADHD

  • Make a breakfast rich in proteins. The brain uses proteins to make neurotransmitters that help communication among the brain cells.
  • Go for scrambled eggs and toast along with peanut butter.
  • Avoid sugary cereals, which hikes up blood sugar and increases hyperactivity.
  • Combine proteins with complex carbohydrates:
  • Combine proteins with complex carbohydrates which are rich in fiber and contain no sugar. As such, the sugars from the carbohydrates are digested more slowly, resulting in a more gradual and sustained blood sugar release.
  • Try a vegetable omelet, bran muffin, yogurt with fruit and oatmeal, and toast with peanut butter.

Prepare a Balanced Lunch and Dinner

  • Prepare an ADHD-friendly meal by filling a plate half with fruits and veggies, one-fourth with proteins, and one-fourth with complex carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables form a good part of the diet for ADHD.
  • This food combo can control mood and behavior swings by controlling hunger, blood sugar hikes, or deficiency of a particular nutrient.
  • Try to have dark green, yellow or red vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, yogurt, eggs, fish, lean meat.
  • You may also try foods rich in omega 3s like walnuts, canola oil, fish.

Make Healthy Desserts for Kids

Some healthy dessert options for your kid are homemade applesauce, yogurt parfait or chocolate pudding made with skim milk.

Snack Smart for the Brain

Load your diet with protein, complex carbs, and nutritious foods while keeping a check on the calorie count.

Some of the smart options for snacking include creamy or cheesy soup with croutons, crackers, string cheese, apples, bananas, and peanut butter.

What to Eliminate from the Diet for ADHD?

Following are the foods to avoid with ADHD.

  • Avoid artificial additives and sugar in your meals.
  • Unprocessed foods are best to use as they have very fewer additives.
  • Check for foods containing artificial colors, flavors, dyes, preservatives, and excess sugar.

[Read: Herbs for Treating ADHD]

A Few Healthy ADHD-Friendly Recipes for Kids

1. Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients: 2 cups of plain yogurt, two tablespoons of honey, 1 cup of plain granola, 8-10 fresh and juicy blackberries, and a dash of cinnamon powder.

Procedure: Mix the honey and yogurt in a bowl and set it aside. Take a tall glass and pour in a layer of the honeyed yogurt. Follow with half a cup of granola and 4-5 blackberries. Repeat the layering until the glass is full. Refrigerate the parfait and serve chilled.

2. Creamy Soup with Crouton

Ingredients: 5 ounces of croutons, 5-6 potatoes, 2-3 carrots, a bowl of chicken broth, two tomatoes, half a teaspoon of paprika, one teaspoon of curry, half a teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper powder, and a few sprigs of diced parsley.

Procedure: Peel the potatoes and slice them. Put the potato slices in the cooking pot and then add the peeled and chopped tomatoes and carrots as well.

Pour the chicken broth into the pan and set the pot to boil. Blend the contents and sprinkle the herbs and spices. Serve the soup after garnishing it with croutons and parsley.

ADHD, unlike dangerous diseases, does not have a straight medical cure. Its symptoms may increase with age. But it’s nothing to be worried about. It can be successfully managed to an extent, and the symptoms may gradually reduce if you follow and maintain the right diet for ADHD, as discussed above.

Such changes in your diet cannot rid you of ADHD overnight but will gradually cure it noticeably. So the diet for ADHD has to be maintained regularly to ensure fruitful results for your condition.


1. What Foods Can Trigger ADHD in Kids?

Avoid foods like artificially colored candies, caffeine, sodas, and corn syrup high in fructose, frozen veggies and fruits, cake frosting and mixes, energy drinks, seafood that contains a trace amount of mercury, and foods that trigger digestive sensitivity in children.

2. Can Diet Cure ADHD?

An ADHD diet that is composed of foods of high nutritious quality, lean protein, essential fats, healthy carbs of low glycemic index, and spices and herbs is excellent for the cure of ADHD.

3. Which Fruits Are Good for ADHD?

Some of the fruits that are excellent for curbing the signs and symptoms of ADHD include pomegranates, beets, garlic, wheatgrass, spinach, aloe vera, blueberries, goji berries, apples, and kale.

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