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Changing the diet -the natural way to cope with ADHD

Changing the diet -the natural way to cope with ADHD


In the UK, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects 2.0 % of children aged between 6-16. One of the standard forms of conventional treatment is the drug Ritalin. This conventional drug has had reported side effects of heart problems, dizziness and insomnia and has been blamed for the deaths of nine children in the UK and dozens in the US. It makes sense therefore that many parents are looking for natural alternatives with which to help their children.

One main area to be considered is the child’s diet: the correct changes can result in remarkable improvements in behaviour

A lot of people are familiar with improvements seen through supplementing with fish oils, and this is to be encouraged. But it is also important not to overlook other dietary aspects, particularly the highs and lows of uncontrolled blood sugar. In order to maintain the correct balance, all high sugar foods like sugared cereals, sweets, cakes, chocolate etc. should be avoided and replaced with foods which are more wholesome and that slowly release the natural sugars they contain e.g. sugar free corn flakes, oat cakes, brown rice and fresh fruit.

Research shows an increase in certain vitamins and minerals can also help to reduce symptoms and it is probable that some of the improvements seen in behaviour, as a result of the above changes, are partly due to the increased intake in these vitamins and minerals. For example, the amount of zinc in brown rice is much higher compared to that found in white rice, and many children suffering with ADHD are found to improve when their intake of zinc is increased.

It appears that food intolerances may also play a role in symptoms and by avoiding some of the more common trigger foods e.g. wheat and dairy, an improvement can be seen in behaviour. If improvements do occur this is of course to be welcomed, but it may highlight the presence of an imbalance in the bowel flora. This can be caused by an over prescription of antibiotics and for optimum health would need to be rectified. If the underlying problem is not addressed, more allergies may occur at a later date and the vicious circle will continue.

Since implementing dietary changes can be stressful, be sure to make them gradually. This helps to take the pressure off both you and your child.

Most children love pancakes. If you are considering a wheat and/or dairy free diet why not try the delicious recipe below made with buckwheat flour (wheat/gluten free). Mix the ingredients as shown and then cook in the normal way. Don’t forget though – no sugar!

PancakesWheat free pancakes

  • 275ml/½pt rice milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g/4oz buckwheat flour


  1. Put the rice milk, egg, and oil into a liquidiser and blend thoroughly for 15 - 30 seconds.
  2. Then add the flour and liquidise again for 15 - 30 seconds.
  3. If possible, let the batter stand to allow the mixture to settle before cooking.
  4. Flavour with cinnamon and lemon juice when cooked.

If you choose to take supplements or give them to your child please remember to always do so following the correct guidance.

Nicky Ester MSc DNMed RNutr
Sunrise Natural Therapies Clinic, Hockley

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