What your child eats can have a huge impact on his ADHD–it’s worth a try!
Chaim had a constant runny nose. Every time I picked him up for soccer practice, I had a tissue waiting. He was the cutest kid! Big brown eyes darting in every direction, asking a million questions a minute, never pausing for long enough to hear a full answer. He had imaginative ideas and was happy to share them with his friend’s mom (me 😊). Getting him to sit with his seatbelt was a chore. One day I had a conversation with his mother and suggested that she put Chaim on the Thirty Day Challenge, a diet for kids with ADHD and visible physiological problems (in his case, the runny nose). She agreed! The next week Chaim didn’t need the tissue, no runny nose. He was still just as curious, but much calmer. He put the seatbelt on without being prompted. Three weeks later, the old Chaim came bounding into my car, runny nose, explosive energy and all. “What happened,” I asked, “you were doing SO great!” He lowered his eyes sadly and said “Pessach happened, the diet was too hard.”
Has your child been diagnosed with ADHD and is also suffering with autoimmunity, frequent colds, strep every winter? Does your child have allergies, nasty rashes or asthma? Is your child’s only food group “cheesy, saucy carbs”? Is she sensitive to specific materials, sounds and touch?
What is the connection between ADHD symptoms and physiological issues?
An awful lot, According to Dr. Perlmutter, functional child neurologist and best-selling author. “It’s now undeniable that our intestinal organisms (the roughly one hundred trillion bacterial creatures in us and on our skin) participate in a wide variety of physiological actions, including immune system functioning, detoxification, inflammation, neurotransmitter and vitamin production, nutrient absorption… All these processes factor mightily into whether or not we experience allergies, asthma, ADHD, cancer, diabetes or dementia.” -Dr. David Perlmutter, 2015
That’s right! Our gut bacterial is responsible for producing the neurotransmitters our brain uses to focus, plan, think, and regulate. The same bacteria extracts vitamins from our food, which the brain needs to function well! In other words, if our gut is out of order, we will experience more allergies, asthma, ADHD symptoms, chronic pain and illness. We will be more tired and depressed and have a harder time learning.
If your child is suffering with any of the above physiological problems and is exhibiting difficult behavior, it may be time to take a look at her ‘second brain,’ her gut!
Follow these 3 steps to help your child with ADHD gain optimal focus:
- Identify the physiological symptoms your child is struggling with (examples: constipation, allergies, runny nose, picky eating, poor sleep, moodiness, headaches, stomachaches, infections needing antibiotics often) Write down the symptoms and rate their severity.
- There’s more details. Information on which food to cut out and which to include is over here (I go into more detail in my book). You will be cutting out some major food groups for 30 days, so get prepared! Visit the supermarket with your family to choose alternatives to gluten, dairy, food coloring and fake sweeteners. Test out new vegetables, see what fruit is in season. Fresh is best, frozen is fine! Don’t kill yourself, there are many pre-cut fruit and vegetable options, we call that fast food. Families who do the Thirty Day Challenge together, get much better results. If you see your family needs some prep time, start making food choice changes slowly and after everyone has found a few things they like to eat, begin the Challenge! Reward yourself and your family for sticking with the focus-enhancing diet by doing activities together, not with junk foods!
- After you made it through the 30 days (Wow, that’s impressive!!!) go back to your original symptoms’ checklist. See if there have been improvements. If you and your child are more calm, rashes have gone away, there are less temper tantrums, and 2 bowel movements a day, keep at it! You are on the right path; you have successfully identified one of the main causes of your child’s ADHD. That is HUGE. If you see only partial improvement, consider carrying on for one more month. If you don’t see any improvements, slowly reintroduce the foods you have eliminated, while keeping the nourishing foods you have added. Pay attention to the symptoms to see if any get worse as you reintroduce foods.
As a mom of kids with ADHD, I can tell you personally that changing habits and diets is hard! It has also been the best thing I have done for my family. Wishing you much luck, you and your family deserve a healthy gut and brain.
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Hi thanks for sharing! This sounds interesting and would love to try it on my 5 year old who is highly sensory and displays symptoms of ADHD (he was never diagnosed) .
I just have one question: how do you keep to this with school lunches and snacks? A 5 year old is going to eat whatever he is served and I don’t think it’s fair to not let him eat what the rest of his class is having. And besides the school policy is not to let in any food sent from home
I did this for my daughter. It was amazing to see the difference. Her teacher asked if I put her on meds.
Would love some advice on this too – there’s no way I can cut that all out for the whole family with different allergies and nutritional needs… tried taking my son off dairy and it was so difficult for him. We do our own school lunches but there is so little I can send that is GF, pareve, and that he likes!!
It wasn’t realistic to take the whole family off especially since I was going off of a hunch, not having been told 100% by an allergist. So I took my kid to the supermarket with me and let her pick out special snacks that’ll be just for her when everyone else is eating something dairy. So far it’s worked. She feels great about having her private stash and if anything the other kids want her special foods now!
Love this post! Anyone have any breakfast ideas that is gluten free and dairy free?
Oatmeal! Big favorite at our house as I’m taking my ADHD daughter off of dairy due to extreme eczema. Also GF cereal with no – dairy milk (Chex , rice krispies). Also fruit shakes is a good one and easy. Scrambled eggs.
You could do the fancy muffins or pancakes (substitute ingredients) but I certainly don’t have time for that in the morning!
Eggs, gluten-free muffins, dairy-free smoothies (use chia seeds for protein)…
L.A., Try this over summer vacation. I’m sure the school also wants a calmer child. If you have already seen that it helps, they will probably be more willing to work with you.
My son is such a picky eater! I want to try this challenge, but can’t do everything… He loves nosh, and there is so much of it around, he would feel so deprived. Also I can’t imagine him eating any of the suggested probiotics except yogurt. What are the most important parts of the recommended diet changes?
For anyone asking for recipe/food ideas I would recommend checking out rories full n free cookbook- she also has some of recipe ideas on her website.