ADHD Diet Guidelines
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

ADHD diet guidelines may vary slightly from nutritionist to nutritionist. Before we look at typical ADHD diet guidelines, let’s review what ADHD is.

ADHD is a brain condition in which the levels of neurotransmitters affecting certain centers of the brain are lower than normal. Those diagnosed with ADHD have trouble with concentration, keeping still, and impulsivity.

The disorder begins to manifest itself in children between the ages of 5 and 8 and can affect girls and boys. Lack of diagnosis can lead to the symptoms of the condition continuing on into adulthood in a greater number of children.

Nutrition Plan

Nutritionists and doctors have been exploring the relationship between food and ADHD. Before you adopt any of these dietary suggestions for yourself or your child, please check in with your medical professional.

Over the past decade our understanding of how food affects every organ in our bodies has grown more sophisticated. The effect of our diet on our brain is no exception.

Blood flows through each organ, tissue, bone and bodily organ. Since the brain is the center of the ADHD challenge, any nutrients that promote brain health are the ones that you want to give to your body!

The brain is made up of nerve cells that pass electrical signals from one to the other. These signals create learning pathways. The nerve cells are insulated and protected by the myelin sheath. More about this in a moment.

ADHD diet guidelines highly recommend that you include the following foods in your child’s nutrition plan. These foods are known to help improve the health of the brain.

What to Eat


One of the main nutrients you can focus on is omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are filled with omega-3s. These fatty acids have been shown to increase immunity, heart health, brain development and hormone balance in the body.

In the brain, omega-3 fatty acids help to nourish the myelin sheath. This is important because it can potentially help electrical impulses pass quicker from neuron to neuron.

Other important sources of these fatty acids include nuts, flaxseed oil, flax seeds and linseed oil.


Getting enough daily protein into your child can be a dietary problem. But it’s important to try because – among other important reasons - protein builds muscle tissue.

Consuming protein with as little fat as possible is best. Try eating eggs, beans, meat, and nuts.

Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates contain more sugar than complex carbs, and they can contain more fat. Eating too much fat can block the absorption of the good nutrients that the brain needs.

You can lower the fat content with complex carbohydrates! Here's how ...

Eat green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and fruits - like apples, pears, and grapefruit.

What Not to Eat

Certain foods may make the condition worse for sufferers of ADHD. For instance, the body of an ADHD child seems to lack the enzyme to properly break down the protein casein, found in milk. The lack of this enzyme can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in a child.

You know that high fat and processed foods are not good for anyone. They can also block important nutrients from being absorbed and used by the body.

The best ADHD diet guidelines say to limit or eliminate trans fats, saturated fat foods, processed sweets, and fatty meats.

Speaking of ADHD diet guidelines … I wish the FDA would insist that the food colors made from crushed insects be removed, and not simply listed as an ingredient! 

A Healthy Body

While diet is not the complete answer to solving the various problems with ADHD, it does help in so many ways.

There is no miracle cure for ADHD, but we know this … increasing proper nutrition not only helps the brain to function better, but also the whole body.

A healthy body is better equipped to deal with anything. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, the proper ADHD diet guidelines can help you choose the best foods for your child.

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