Is There Such a Thing as an ADHD Diet?


Could food be the thing to cure ADHD? A study done at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago found just that. There is much debate about how to help kids with ADHD with their behaviour though behaviour modification techniques, supplementation, medication, and diet. I will admit that my opinions on the subject are formed at a professional distance as I did not have a child with an ADHD diagnosis. I have, however, seen the impact of this diagnosis on children I love as well as on many classrooms the children I love have been in. I know it is not easy.

But I also know for a fact that every cell in a body is made from the fuel (food) that goes in to it. If we accept that ADHD is a founded affliction of the cells in the brain that can be modified by drugs, it follows that they can be modified (for better or worse) and/or supported by food. Since I am willing and able to make dietary modification for each and every person in my home, it makes sense to me to give it a try.

It is known that diet is an established contributor and as MedPageToday states that the, “development of ADHD was significantly associated with Western diets.” Food affects your mood and energy level. It is not any different for a child?

The study found that, “simple diets low in fats, high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables are the best alternative to medication for ADHD.” I’m not sure how food is an ‘alternative. It’s the foundation. It is understandable that a parent would want to help their child as quickly and fully as possible. ADHD can affect every facet of childhood going well beyond the obvious of socialization and learning. Diet is certainly one of a parent’s first explorations prior to medicating for ADHD.

The above “diet” is also helpful for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. Of course it might help to control ADHD symptoms. I have seen behaviour issues rise and fall with blood sugar.  And these studies confirm that the issue isn’t the sugar itself. Avoiding blood sugar spikes with simple, healthy snacks ought to be standard to get the best out of the brain’s ability to focus. Teachers have been telling us for decades that well-fed kids do better and are easier to handle. (Ed. note: And there’s no such thing as junk food.)

For the record, three other findings were mentioned with regard to an ADHD diet:

  • Supplementation with Omega 3s and 6s showed some promise
  • Feingold-type diets which included the removal of salicylates was found to be helpful in some sensitive children. Salicylates are found in artificial food colour and foods like: Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Aspirin, Berries, Cherries, Cloves, Coffee, Cucumbers, Currants, Grapes, Nectarines, Oil of wintergreen, Oranges, Peaches, Peppers (bell & chilli), Pickles, Plums, Prunes, Raisins, Rose hips, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tea, Tomatoes
  • Elimination diets (removal of wheat, dairy, and other potential allergens) showed promise but are considered difficult to follow. (Ed. note: Neurodivergent kids often restrict what they eat already.)


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