The incidence, of ADHD symptoms and diet for ADHD child varies from country to country depending on the criteria used for diagnosis (S.A. uses DSM V). ADHD is believed to affect 10 % of the world population and is found in every ethnic and socio-economic group.
From this post you would be able to know: What diet is good for ADHD? and What foods should be avoided with ADHD?
Before starting an effective diet plan for ADHD child, few essential points need to apply:
A FEW EFFECTIVE POINTERS:
- We avoid forcing the plan on the child – we try and get his/her co-operation.
- The whole family should be involved. Don’t expect the child to co-operate if he has to watch the rest of the family eat foods that he is not allowed.
- At first, you should identify the symptoms and causes of ADHD child.
- You need to know the management for ADHD child
- Read labels or join a Support Group organization that investigates artificial ingredients, like Feingold U.S.A
- Breakfast is vital: 1 protein plus a complex carbohydrate = 3 hours of the child’s best concentration. A lesser breakfast might only help for one hour!
- ADD/H children need regular snacks, every 2-3 hours help maintain concentration eg. Peanut butter/tuna sandwich, homemade plain white popcorn, plain biltong, nuts or cheese.
- 5-6 pm is usually the most difficult hour of the day in South Africa. A snack usually calms the child! Make sure it is small enough not to spoil dinner!
- SUGAR: These children are usually better off if they don’t eat sugar but this is difficult to implement (we know sugar does not cause ADHD but it could make certain children more difficult). We, therefore, limit the amount of sugar intake. Never give a sweet or sugary biscuit on an empty tummy.
- For dieting ADHD child, if the child suffers from allergies consult an allergy specialist as this can influence behavior and concentration. After diagnosis child with ADHD, you should take the next simple but effective steps.
WILL DIETARY INTERVENTION MAKE MY CHILD FEEL DEPRIVED?
Any child will feel deprived if he is told that he is not allowed to have any treats unless some sort of alternative is made available. That is exactly what the ADD/Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa is able to assist our members with. We do food research in South Africa and are constantly investigating products on the market and, through our membership and regular newsletters, are able to keep members updated at all times.
WHAT IS HAPPENING AT THE TUCK SHOP AT YOUR SCHOOL?
- Are you as a parent aware of what is being sold during break time?
- Do you know Drug-free child ADHD treatment
- Are you aware of the influence of artificial ingredients on your child’s concentration and behavior?
- Have you approached your headmaster to implement changes in the tuck shop? Is he aware of how the teachers struggle after break time?
If you answered NO to the above questions maybe it is time that you change your answer to YES by becoming involved in the process of changing tuck shops at schools. We would like to see tuck shops sell healthy food and fruit juices that will be beneficial to all children, not to mention the contribution it would have on academic performance.
OVERVIEW ON ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS AND THE ELIMINATION DIET
Allergies to cereals and cow’s milk are often common amongst these children. For many years pediatricians and pediatric allergists have reported a higher incidence of allergies amongst children with hyperactivity. It has also been estimated that in S.A up to 10 % of primary school children suffer from allergic reactions which exhibit in classroom behavior and concentration problems.
Factors which linked to hyperactivity:
Various factors have been linked to diet for ADHD child. These include genetic factors (well known), smoking during pregnancy, artificial additives in food, and environmental pollutants. Some hyper children may not also be sensitive to sugar although we know that “too much” CANNOT cause ADHD nor can artificial ingredients CAUSE ADHD.
It merely makes the condition worse for ADHD children (many case studies available as well as double-blind studies). Here you need to have a clear knowledge about the sign and symptoms of ADHD child.
Influences of carbohydrates:
A diet for ADHD child consisting of refined carbohydrates influences the level of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Another possibility is that certain sugars (glucose) influence brain neurotransmitter levels and therefore the activity levels in hyperactive children (merely adding to their problem!).
You know that neurotransmitters are chemical substances which are released from the nerve fiber that affect the transfer of an impulse to another nerve or muscle. We know, scientifically, that neurotransmitters require EFAs for optimal functioning (cannot be supplied by chemical meds like Ritalin).
Important research evidence of Hyperactivity:
Recent studies on the use of artificial sweeteners suggest that some hyperactive children become more aggressive when given large doses of aspartame (we avoid this with our children in S.A). The research concludes that hyperactive children have a deficiency of EFAs either due to an inability to absorb EFAs adequately from the gastrointestinal tract or because their EFA requirements are higher than that of other children.
A deficiency of EFA in animals causes a constant thirst, which is one of the symptoms of numerous hyperactive children including sweaty hands as well as “head sweats” at night. Preliminary studies on the effects of supplementation with EFAs in Canada, USA, United Kingdom, and South Africa have reported degrees of improvement.
Essential fatty acids are converted in the body by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase to gamma linoleic acid which is then further converted to other substances. The enzyme is effective for conversion but it does not seem to work efficiently in the hyperactive child and adult. An adult can effectively manage his/her ADHD.
Two-thirds of hyperactive children studied were deficient in zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 which block the conversion process of EFAs.
Diet for ADHD child depends on vitamins B-group:
The vitamins B-group is very much important for the hyperactive child which function mainly in the central nervous system. Vitamin B1 and thiamin are involved in the maintenance of the central nervous system.
An insufficiency of Vitamin B2, riboflavin, may affect the central nervous system symptoms such as:
- Irritability and
Vitamins B6 and C are also concerned for regulation of neurotransmitter synthesis.
Diet for ADHD child depends on vitamins Calcium:
Calcium works for biochemical reactions in the body and takes part in the cohort of nerve impulses from the nervous system. Magnesium is required for the development and restores of body cells also help the diffusion of nerve impulses to the muscles and acts mutually with calcium. Vitamin D aids the absorption and utilization of calcium and magnesium.
Diet for ADHD child depends on vitamins Zinc, chromium and vanadium:
Zinc, chromium, and vanadium play a role in sugar balance by enhancing the action of insulin in promoting uptake of glucose. A glucose tolerance aspect has been recognized as an ordinary form of chromium which plays an important role in the function of insulin. Supplementation and chromium work together for reducing glucose levels and to progress glucose tolerance.
Since abnormal glucose tolerance levels have been seen in some hyperactive children, supplementing with chromium, vanadium and zinc may help.
Feingold Diet for ADHD child:
Many ADD/ADHD children improve when put onto the Feingold Diet. It is impossible to predict how a child will benefit, and in which areas improvement will take place, but they are often evident in improved concentration, general health and/or social interaction.
Sometimes the change is dramatic, sometimes it can hardly be noticed – this depends upon the child and his own unique make-up, but it also depends upon the diet being followed one hundred present! If the child is in a state of reaction to just one substance, this could mask any improvement that might otherwise be seen.
Remember that a single dietary infraction could affect behavior, concentration, sleep etc. for the next 72 hours!
List of artificial foods which need to avoid:
We do avoid all artificial colorants, flavorings, and antioxidant preservatives e.g. EDTA, BHA, TBHQ, calcium propionate, benzoic acid, benzoates, sulphur dioxide, sulphates, and MSG.
- bought cakes,
- hamburger patties,
- fish fingers,
- packet soups and sauces,
- processed meats and polonaise,
- fruit squashes and fizzy drinks usually contain the above artificial ingredients.
Once the above additives have been eliminated, reactions to certain natural foods are examined.
List of natural foods which need to avoid:
We AVOID natural fruits and vegetables with a high salicylate content e.g. apples (but golden delicious are fine – low salicylate content).
- tomatoes and many more.
AVOIDANCE OF THESE NATURAL FOODS IS FOR A SHORT TIME ONLY. Once the child has shown reasonable improvement and seems to have settled down. These natural foods must be reintroduced one at a time to the regular diet. If there is any reaction to a particular food (e.g. Deterioration in behavior, concentration or health) this could indicate that the child is sensitive to it and that that specific food should be avoided until retested at a later date.
This includes any products containing that food as one of the ingredients. We try to ensure that the child eats as wide a range of natural foods as possible. All in all diet for ADHD child depends on their food supplements and also medicine and psychotherapy which cover the total effective results for ADHD child.