Are You What You Eat? Best ADHD Diet

by Dana Rayburn, ADHD Coach and Author* –

Are you eating properly? If you aren’t you could be sabotaging your ADHD treatments. Eating the best diet is crucial to managing ADHD. What you eat determines how well your brain functions. Yet, many adults with ADHD have horrid diets and eating habits.

We forget to eat. We skip meals. We forget to grocery shop. When hunger catches up with us, we end up eating whatever we can get our hands on. We binge on junk food in an unconscious effort to self-medicate.

All this plays havoc on the ADHD brain. Some of my coaching clients even report that eating a more ADHD-friendly diet lets them take less ADHD medication.

Let’s unwrap the mysteries of food and ADHD so you can eat a diet that supports your brain. Your goal is to give your brain a constant supply of protein and at the same time reduce artificial ingredients. Here’s what you need.

  • Protein with every meal

Found in meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, soy and beans. Some proteins are high in fat so keep your portions small. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews and cheese and beef jerky are all easy protein-rich snacks.

  • Fruits and vegetables

Since ADHD adults avoid anything too challenging, select fruits and vegetables that are easy to prepare and eat. I find pre-washed and cut bags of lettuce and carrots are worth the extra expense.

  • Whole grains (complex carbohydrates)

Think whole wheat flours, crackers, cereals, pastas and brown rice. The words whole wheat must be on the package’s ingredient list for the product to be truly whole wheat.

  • A full compliment of vitamin and mineral supplements

Even if you do manage to eat a good diet, numerous studies show our bodies and brains need more vitamins and minerals than we get from our food.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Found in supplements, cold-water white fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines. Also, in flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, olive and canola oil.

Decrease or avoid these diet enemies.

  • Foods with long ingredient names you can’t pronounce

Some studies show artificial colors, sugar substitutes and food additives can aggravate ADHD symptoms. The results are inconclusive, but why take a chance?

  • Sugar, corn syrup, honey and candy

I’m not going to say NEVER have sugar, but with sugar hidden in many foods most people eat way too much so avoid it when you can. Especially watch out for high fructose corn syrup. It’s sugar with a big punch.

  • Foods containing trans fatty acids

Listed among the ingredients as partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats are dietary bad guys that play havoc with your cholesterol. Read the label. Some foods say, “0 grams of trans fats” but still lists trans fats in the ingredients.

  • Watch your alcohol and caffeine intake

Some say to cut them out entirely. I’m a fan of moderation, though. I suggest you notice how your brain and body react. I’ve found too much caffeine makes me jumpy and too much wine makes my brain fuzzy for a couple of days.

  • Foods containing white flour

White breads, pastas, and white rice

ADHD can make you crave breads and other carbohydrates. It’s a form of self-medication. There are better ADHD treatments than diving headfirst into a bread basket.

Do you want your brain to work well? Then it’s up to you to give it the fuel it needs to operate at peal performance. This means you need to eat healthy foods, an ADHD-friendly diet that supports your brain.

About the Author


*Dana Rayburn, ADHD Coach and Author

Dana is an experienced, professional coach who specializes in ADHD. She can help us find clarity and success in our personal and professional lives. Dana has a driving, passionate belief that people with ADHD are unique and gifted. That the world needs our creativity and ideas. But, until we get our act together; until we can do things like focus and follow-through, our creativity and ideas will remain buried. Often under piles of lists and paper and other assorted clutter.

Yes, Dana has ADHD. That’s why she became a coach over twenty years ago. She has worked to manage her ADHD extremely well and is a better ADHD coach for it. More practical and empathetic. She gets ADHD. She knows what’s realistic and what’s not. Her techniques and tools are tested real world strategies.

Reviewed by ADDR 5-25-2015 (mm)
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  • Dan Horn on July 29th, 2015

    This article was very informative, especially because I found out I was diabedict 2 years ago and all these terms apply.

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