Food for focus: how diet can help manage ADHD symptoms

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ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a condition that affects both kids and adults.

People with ADHD might have trouble paying attention, might be really active, or might act without thinking. But did you know that what you eat can affect ADHD? Let’s talk about it.

How Can Diet Affect ADHD?

Food fuels our bodies and our brains. Some foods can help us focus and behave better. Others might make us feel jumpy or distracted. So, if you have ADHD, changing your diet might help manage your symptoms.

Foods That May Help with ADHD

Let’s look at foods that could help you if you have ADHD.

Protein-rich Foods

Protein is good for the brain. It can help you think and focus. Foods like eggs, fish, meat, beans, and nuts are full of protein.

One study found that having a high-protein breakfast helped kids with ADHD focus better at school.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are a type of good fat. They’re important for brain health and can help with focus and behavior. You can find them in fish like salmon and tuna.

Also in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Some studies show that kids with ADHD who took omega-3 supplements had less hyperactivity and were able to pay better attention.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs are another good choice. They release energy slowly, which helps the brain work better. Foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are full of complex carbs.

Research suggests that a diet high in these kinds of carbs can help manage ADHD symptoms.

Foods That May Worsen ADHD Symptoms

Now, let’s talk about foods that might make ADHD symptoms worse.


Sugar can make anyone hyper, not just people with ADHD. But if you have ADHD, too much sugar can make symptoms worse. A study found that kids with ADHD who ate a lot of sugar had more trouble paying attention.

Food Additives

Things like food colorings, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners might affect ADHD. Some studies found that kids with ADHD who ate foods with these things in them had worse symptoms. So, try to eat fresh, natural foods when you can.


Sometimes, people with ADHD are also sensitive to certain foods. This can be things like milk, eggs, or wheat.

If you notice your ADHD symptoms get worse after eating certain foods, you might want to talk to your doctor about food sensitivities.

Other Dietary Strategies

Some people try special diets to help with ADHD. Like the ‘Few Foods Diet.’ This means you only eat a few foods at first, then slowly add more back in.

This can help figure out if any foods are causing problems. Some studies have found that this kind of diet can help manage ADHD symptoms.

Remember to Consult Your Doctor

Before you make big changes to your diet, talk to your doctor. They can help you come up with a plan that’s healthy and works for you.

The Bottom Line

What you eat can affect your ADHD. Foods like proteins, omega-3s, and complex carbs might help. And too much sugar, food additives, or allergens might make symptoms worse.

But remember, everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another. So, keep trying until you find what works best for you.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could help prevent dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and how alcohol, coffee and tea intake influence cognitive decline.

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