Jenny McCarthy first caused waves years ago when she declared that her son’s autism was “cured” by his diet change. Knowing that a simple diet change can help a child’s behavior is extraordinary. But what is it about the diet that helps the behavior? And what exactly does a “diet change” mean? Dr. Kevin Ross Emery author of the books Managing the Gift of your ADD/HD Child and Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder helps explain to Breezy Mama why diet can play an important role in managing Attention Deficit Disorder.
Why does diet play such an important role in ADD/HD?
You are what you eat. Because of the amount of energy they process and the things that are going in within them, they can be more sensitized to a bad diet than the average child. Therefore, it is important to get nutrient dense foods into their body. Also, they can respond to food in ways which are similar to an allergic reaction (food sensitivity). This can lead to those behaviors which lead people to think they need to be medicated.
Which foods, in particular, trigger these behaviors?
Some of the foods which I recommend that you want to monitor, limit or perhaps even eliminate are highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, food dyes and pay attention to excessive intakes of wheat, dairy and processed sugars of any kind. But always keep in mind that what may effect, or even dramatically effect one child may have little or no impact on others.
What is about these foods (highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, food dyes) that can trigger the ADD/HD behavior?
Exposure to the chemicals involved or contained within these thing can act as triggers, and many also build up causing other problem, for everyone. As for high fructose corn syrup there are a few different reasons but primarily remember that the cycle of sugar addiction, can be confused for ADD/HD behaviors, as well as, exacerbate those behaviors.
If a parent needs to start eliminating food from their child’s diet, should they go “cold turkey” or take away one at a time?
The bottom line is it depends on the child. However, I do recommend the Feingold diet. That being said, anything you do should be done in consultation by your health practitioner of choice. For more information on the Feingold diet, click here.
Which foods are good for ADD/HD?
Foods which are unprocessed and highly nutritious, preferably organic. Also, small meals eaten 6 to 8 times a day, along with lots of hydrating fluids.
What foods need to be avoided?
In my first book, Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder, I give a list of foods to test and see how your child reacts to them which includes: dairy, wheat, highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, food dyes, acidic foods and artificial flavorings. Again, each child is different and what one child reacts to, another may not.
I’ve heard that there is a lot of research behind avoiding the artificial colors and flavors, but not much research has been done supporting a all organic or gluten/dairy free diet. What are your thoughts on this?
In general there is an increased issue in both children and adults having issues with too much dairy and gluten in their diet, leading to intolerances. Therefore I feel it’s always prudent to check on these because these intolerances can play out with symptoms that certainly have an ADD/HD feel or can exacerbate natural traits and tendencies into unmanageable behaviors. As far as organic, the less exposure to chemicals the better.
After you put your child on a diet specifically to help with ADD/HD, how long before one typically sees results?
Depending on what your child’s food sensitivity level is, you may see changes within 24 hours. However, the full extent of the changes may not happen for 3 to 6 months.
Does buying organically help the symptoms of ADD/HD?
Yes, because there are less toxins for the body system to have to process.
What role does caffeine play in ADD/HD? We’ve heard that some pediatricians recommend it for children with ADD/HD.
Sometimes what is happening is that different parts of brain are not synchronized. For some, caffeine (a little) can help those parts get in sync. I have seen this be helpful in some cases. If you do try this method, make sure to use organic, low-acid coffee. Coffee doesn’t have either high fructose corn syrup or carbonation which may not be agreeable to some. The key is to make sure you are giving a very clean, pure kind of caffeine and in relatively small amounts.
I know that autism and ADD/HD often get misdiagnosed with one another. So I’m curious, would this the same sort of diet help those with autism?
I have not done extensive work with autism, but the diet I recommend would be helpful for any child or adult.
Anything you’d like to add?
I would like to remind you that diet can be a important part of the overall care of these individuals. However, it is not the only factor to consider for these individuals to realize and fulfill their potential. It is a great place to start, but please remember, it is a place to start and not an end.
About Dr. Emery: Dr. Kevin Ross Emery’s books, Managing the Gift of your ADD/HD Child and Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder are built upon more than 14 years of experience working with individuals of all ages living with Attention Deficit Disorder and a lifetime of personal experience dealing with it himself. For more than two decades, Dr. Kevin has offered an approach to ADD/HD that reveals it as a gift that, when properly managed, contains the potential for formidable multitasking skills, creativity and more. Also an international speaker on the topic, Dr. Kevin was among the very first to publicly acknowledge ADD/HD as a step in the evolution of humanity that will eventually allow it to reach new levels of achievement a view often at odds with a culture that can be quick to resort to medicating children who show signs of ADD/HD or who in some cases, don’t even meet that standard. The titles of his books sum up Dr. Kevins intent to assist parents in managing the gifts of their ADD/HD children to not see it from the perspective of ADD/HD being a disease or disability, or from a perspective of drugs being the sole solution. Dr. Kevin has worked with ADD/HD individuals of all ages from young children to business owners seeking to balance their innovation with organization. Learn more online at www.kevinrossemery.com.Pin It