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You Aren’t What You Eat, And Neither Is Your ADHD

Notice the lack of junk food? I've gotta go shopping
Notice the lack of junk food? I’ve gotta go shopping

Of course you aren’t what you eat. Your body cleverly selects things from your food to use in the building and maintenance of your body. But that doean’t mean you should make getting at the things it needs a difficult task.

We can always use healthy food. Left unconsidered, my diet will quickly resemble the wreckage of a train carrying snack foods, fast foods, preservatives and additives.

I don’t advocate any particular patented diet or diet program as being a cure or even a control for ADHD, but I know that being healthy means that I’m better able to deal with my quirks, better able to corral, to some extent, my scattered thoughts. And being healthy includes eating healthy. You are what you eat, go easy on the bologna

Protein is important for us, especially those of us who are hyper. Protein helps with the repair of used and abused muscles. And I do need lots of muscle repair on a regular basis.

Don’t eat food that hates you

For those of us who are sensitive to certain foods, exposure to those foods will exacerbate our ADHD symptoms. That is to say, if you are gluten intolerant, and you have ADHD, exposure to gluten will make your ADHD symptoms worse. It isn’t rocket science. Discomfort is distraction, and this can happen on a chemical level as well as a physical level.

No Cheating! Well … not a lot, okay?

For those of us who tolerate food well, or only eat food that we do tolerate well, a good diet can generally be cheated on occasionally. Mental health, like physical health, makes us resilient enough to withstand the odd injudicious indulgence.

But, if you eat junk as a rule, you’re doing neither your body, nor your mind, any favours.

I’m not about to tell you what to eat

I can’t map out a diet for you, or your child, because we are not the same people. For one thing, I can’t tolerate soy products, for instance, but that has nothing to do with my ADHD. I will get ill, physically ill, if I eat them. Another thing I have going on is this, I rely heavily on caffeine as my stimulant medication, but I don’t recommend you do that if you can tolerate, and are helped by, stimulant medications.

But I might tell you how to eat

I can tell you that if you pay attention to your diet, and how you feel when eating certain foods, you’ll have less stress in your life. And I can tell you that whether or not the diet has any positive effect on your ADHD symptoms, the reduced stress will certainly make your life better.

Additionally, if it’s your child’s diet you’re working on, know this: any positive attention you pay to your child will affect them positively. Some people suggest that it is a placebo effect, but I think not. I think that if you show a child love and support, if you work with them to help them reach their potential, they will soon realize their own value. They will soon get the message that they are worth the effort, and they will match that effort.

Consider both cause and effect

This also means that a change in their diet might well bring about positive results that have more to do with you paying attention than with the new diet.

But regardless of the cause, improvements should be reinforced positively. Those affected by either the diet or the attention will still have ADHD, they will still have symptoms. But un-exacerbated by stress, those symptoms will hopefully be the lessened.

So what is Dr. Kelly’s advice?

So my advice is … pay attention to your diet, but don’t obsess about it. Be good to yourself, and your body and mind will reward you. Don’t make your children think there is something wrong with them, make them believe there are many things right with them. Teach them to take advantage of their strengths.

Feed your minds and bodies on a steady diet of stimulating thoughts and healthy foods. Like rain and sun and fertilizer helps plants and trees be their best, so to does positive thoughts and a healthy diet help us to grow and flourish.

More on positive thoughts next week.


You Aren’t What You Eat, And Neither Is Your ADHD

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). You Aren’t What You Eat, And Neither Is Your ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 May 2013
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