Foods to Avoid If Your Child Has ADHD

foods to avoid if your child has ADHDAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a mental disorder that makes it hard to concentrate or sit still, potentially causing a child to have bursts of impulsivity. According to the CDC, ADHD affects almost 6.5 million children in America. ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be treated with a variety of methods. Before you think about whether medicating is the best route to take to control the ADHD, it may make sense to make a change in your child’s diet. Surprisingly, there are many foods to avoid if your child has ADHD.

One product that can trigger ADHD is DAIRY if your child has sensitivity to it. By removing dairy products, you can see if dairy is contributing to the ADHD. Some dairy products include milk, cheese and ice cream. If you’re looking for a great substitute for dairy, try anything soy-based or lactose free. Today, there are many options on the shelf at the grocery store that taste good and do not contain dairy.

CAFFIENE is another substance to avoid if your child exhibits ADHD. Not only can caffeine trigger ADHD, it can actually make it much worse depending on the amount of caffeine in your child’s system. This can happen if your child has soda, coffee or chocolate. Cutting down on products with caffeine will also help to control any impulse behaviors.

One of the most well known triggers for ADHD is SUGAR. Especially in large quantities, sugar can increase your child’s inattention, restlessness, and destabilize their mood. While some doctors say this isn’t true, there have been many studies that say otherwise. Did you know that fruit snacks are packed with sugar? Don’t be misled by “fruit” in the name! Other culprits are fruit juice, many cereals and an obvious treat: candy. Large amounts of sugar aren’t good for the body, especially growing bodies and children exhibiting ADHD symptoms

ENERGY DRINKS seem to be gaining wild popularity among the younger teens. They were made for giving people an extra boost of energy when they need it the most, yet anyone can purchase it. They include many of the ingredients that ADHD children should not have, such as caffeine, sugar, artificial colors and flavors, along with other stimulants that intensify the symptoms of ADHD. They may taste good, but their ingredients are harmful in managing your child’s ADHD. Visit our blog page to learn more about the harmful side effects of energy drinks here: Energy Drinks.

We also know that ARTIFICIAL DYES AND CHEMICALS never do a body any good. So why are so many of our foods full of them? Most junk food contains these chemicals and dyes, which can cause ADHD to become more severe. It can lead to a decrease in concentration and increase in hyperactivity. Some of the foods that are most popular among this category are chips, fruit juice and frozen pizza. It’s easy to make a change! Try fresh fruits and vegetables as a substitute to curb those junk food cravings. Look for all natural fruit juice with no artificial flavor or coloring or grab a smoothie instead. Need recipe ideas? There are great recipes available on or contact our office for other recommendations.

Lastly, just because FAST FOODS are simple, fast and easy doesn’t mean they make good nutritional sense. Treating your ADHD child to fast food is one of the more unhealthy decisions you can make because it is believed to contribute to their symptoms. Medical professionals believe too much fried food can cause ADHD symptoms to flare up. The best way to avoid fast food all together is to pack a lunch for during the day or to make dinner at home with fresh ingredients. Own a crock pot? It’s simple to use and easy to cook a healthy meal all day long while you’re at home or work.

It may seem nearly impossible to avoid all of the foods and beverages associated with ADHD. Even frozen vegetable labels have to be checked because many of them contain artificial coloring and preservatives. However, there are more and more options available than ever before! Watching your child’s diet doesn’t have to be a chore, especially if you get the entire family involved, eating healthy, and feeling better overall. Besides spending time together as a family, the best part about cooking your own meals is that you will know exactly what’s in each dish.

Have more questions about ADHD and your child? Dr. Kellow and Dr. Shaw are always happy to discuss nutritional concerns as well as diet recommendations. Our number is 618-235-2311 and you can also learn more about our office by visiting our website at