How Food Can Help ADD/ADHD Symptoms

December 1, 2019

Listen in to learn how you can care for and feed your brain for optimal functioning, especially if you or your child has attention or behavioral issues. If you are looking for a more natural approach to manage ADHD symptoms, we’ll be talking about how diet can help.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. I believe that most people today realize the importance of nutrition when it comes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. But for some reason many people have been a little bit slow when it comes to understanding what kind of impact food has on the brain and on a variety of neurological diseases. Today we're going to share how food can help ADD and ADHD symptoms. My name is Kara Carper and I'm a Licensed Nutritionist. I have a master's degree in holistic health and I'm a Certified Nutrition Specialist as well. I'm really excited about our show today. We're going to discuss how you can care for and feed your brain for optimal functioning, especially if you or maybe your child has attention issues or struggles with behavior. And this morning I have Leah joining me as our co-host on Dishing Up Nutrition. Leah loves to share what the current nutrition research is saying. So can you just introduce yourself for just a second and maybe tell us a little bit about what type of nutrition research you found in the news this week?


LEAH: Yes, well good morning Kara and good morning to all of our listeners out there. My name is Leah Kleinschrodt. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietician, and I currently see clients out of our Mendota Heights location. So with school in full swing right now and we're kind of in the middle of some school breaks, Thanksgiving, Christmas, winter breaks for most schools, I have actually a number of kids and teens and even some college students on my counseling schedule. And I think more and more parents are starting to get attuned to and look for a natural way to manage their child's ADHD symptoms. So they're looking to nutrition and they're looking at our offices and making appointments at Nutritional Weight and Wellness with our dieticians and nutritionists just to learn more and to just see how food may be impacting their child's brain and how that shows up as behavioral issues or learning in school and things like that. So okay, you mentioned the research, Kara; so the latest research in the news. So this research was reported actually on the nightly news programs back in September, October, somewhere earlier in the fall. And this particular research study was reported in JAMA, which is the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was reported September 3rd, 2019. And this study looked at the death rates for about 450,000 individuals in 10 countries in Europe who drank two sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened soda drinks every single day versus those individuals who drink only one glass of soda per month. So this is a drastic difference.


KARA: So either two per day sweetened sodas, wait artificially-sweetened soda, or one per month.


LEAH: Yup, and what the researchers found was that there was a clear association with all causes of these deaths for those soda drinkers who routinely drink soda every single day. And in fact there was a 27% higher risk of death when drinking two or more soft drinks daily.


KARA: That is so interesting. That research: I remember when that came out in September and it was just all over the headlines. I actually like shared it and posted it on my Facebook page and people were commenting; they're like mixed feelings, you know, “Oh no!” Or “I knew that”.


LEAH: Yes, exactly.


KARA: But a lot of people did not know that. And again, that's for artificially-sweetened or sugar sweetened.


LEAH: Yeah, so whether it's the diet soda or the regularly sweetened with sugar stuff.


KARA: Exactly, exactly. So when we break down that study even more and look directly at the neurodegenerative diseases, the total soft drink consumption was positively associated with a higher risk of Parkinson's mortality. If the soft drink consumption appears to affect the increased death rate for people who have Parkinson's, we have to ask, what is soda doing? How is it affecting those who have ADHD? Here's one possible connection. Many studies show that some synthetic food additives, including artificial colors, and you probably have heard people talk about red dye number 40 as a specific artificial coloring. That red dye number 40 can lead to learning, behavioral or other health effects for some people. So take a look around and we're going to dive into this a little bit more. I learned a lot just in, you know, putting together research for the show about where all of this red dye is. Where is it hidden in these foods and beverages as well?


LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. So let, let's think about that. Like you said, Kara, of where might you find this red dye number 40. And but one of the first things that come to my mind are the sports drinks, especially the more fruity flavored ones. So the strawberry, the cherry, the fruit punch, the pink lemonade flavored ones.


KARA: Even pink, so it's not, it doesn't have to be just red. Pink could have red dye.


LEAH: Yeah. It could be orange. It could be a lot of different colors actually; not just red-colored foods. So in addition to sodas, red dye number 40 is also found in again, fruit snacks, yogurt, breakfast cereals, jams, jelly, candy, cereal bars, hot dogs, chips, pizza, strawberry and cherry Jell-o. Those are just to name a few. And actually as I was pulling together some bits for the show here too, I ran across, if you've ever looked at the package or the ingredients list for instant chocolate pudding, like the powder chocolate pudding packets, that has red dye number 40 in it.


KARA: Wow.


LEAH: It's kind of interesting. You think it's a brown colored food, right? And what I found was they add this to chocolate pudding because otherwise it would look green without it.


KARA: Why would it look green?


LEAH: That's a really great question.


KARA: Just not enough cocoa, actual real cocoa in it?


LEAH: And I believe that's what I, when I pulled that article from, as it said, it would be green just because they don't use as much real cocoa to get the chocolate.


KARA: Sure.


LEAH: Yeah, so interesting.


KARA: Yeah, so people really have to be reading labels.


LEAH: Yes.


KARA: Right?


LEAH: Yup, absolutely. So, and we know that every year the industry dumps about 15 million pounds of artificial dyes into the food we eat. So red dye number 40 is just the most common one that's used in the United States. So that's the one you'll probably see the most often. Throughout Europe, several countries have banned artificial dyes, but other ones that you may see on the label include like yellow number six, yellow number five. So there are a couple other ones that you have to watch out for as well.


KARA: Okay. I suppose a good rule of thumb might just be if it has artificial coloring, it's a food to be preferably avoided because there might be other chemicals in there as well.


LEAH: Yeah. Red dye number 40, again, is probably the one we hear about the most. But that doesn't mean the others are completely innocuous either.


KARA: And depending on the person too.


LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.


KARA: So now we must ask the question: Is there a connection between red dye 40 and ADHD? Many studies published in journals such as Pediatrics, The Lancet, The Journal of Pediatrics, have found that some, but not all people are negatively affected by artificial food coloring. I remember a client telling me a story about what happened to her granddaughter after she ate red Jell-o at a restaurant and they were on a road trip. So this is what the grandmother explained. Her four year old was perfectly behaved little granddaughter. She went into rage-like behavior after eating the Jell-O; the red Jell-O. So at that time grandma made a commitment to herself that she would never feed her granddaughter Jell-O again. Think about other things that this red dye is in: red licorice. Think about what that can do to the brain or the behavior of a child; or how about those boxes of macaroni and cheese? They have yellow number five and that can also affect focus and behavior negatively.


LEAH: Yeah. So Kara, maybe one thing to think about is sometimes these things that we parents chalk up to as temper tantrums could be related to the foods that they're eating and potentially that red dye number 40.


KARA: Yes, definitely. Definitely could. Is this a good time for me to talk about an example that I have personally? Oh, I guess we do need to go to break. How about on the flip side of break if I tell the story about my daughter?


LEAH: Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.


KARA: Okay. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are so thrilled about our new and improved whey protein powder that we wanted to tell you about it again. Our Wellness Whey Protein Powder comes from grass-fed, hormone-free cows. We think it tastes great. It mixes better, and it comes in two delicious flavors: chocolate and vanilla. I personally have the vanilla and put it in my smoothie every day. You can go to and check out our 17 Protein-Filled Recipes Featuring Our Updated Bestselling Protein Powder. And we'll be right back.




LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Our topic today is how food can help ADD/ADHD symptoms. In one hour we can really only touch on some key information. We can't go into depth or talk about every aspect that may play a role in our brain health and how that contributes to ADHD symptoms. So to gain more insight about how food can support memory, learning, focus, behavior, I encourage you: our listeners to sign up for our Food Connection to ADHD Seminar that will be scheduled in January. So once things calm down after the holidays or if you don't want to wait until the new year, you can call any of our offices at 651-699-3438 today and set up your nutritional counseling; one-on-one counseling to get a head start on changing your food to change your life or to change food for your child to change how their brain functions.


KARA: And this is actually a really good time of year for people to get education on nutrition, to get support, accountability, meet with a nutritionist. You might be thinking, "Why would I do that right before the holidays?" That's actually the perfect time. It'll help you manage the holidays in a healthier way so you don't have to wait until January to start everything.


LEAH: Yes, absolutely. Yes. This is a very common time where a lot of our clients might make more frequent appointments at this point just because they need that extra support or strategies or talk through tips on how to avoid the sugars, how to limit their exposure to red dye number 40 or make these changes and to sustain them through the holidays.


KARA: It's a great time to come in.


LEAH: Yeah. So Kara you are just about to share a story; a personal story about your daughter. So why don't we bring us back in with that.


KARA: Great. So the grandma that we were talking about that her four year old granddaughter had Jell-O-O, and she went into a rage. I can kind of relate to that. Hopefully my daughter's not listening. No, but this was during Halloween and you know, we do the typical American trick-or-treating. And then we get the candy and then, you know, I kind of like filter out the candy gradually in a variety of ways. A lot of it goes in the garbage. But this was the day after Halloween, so I hadn't done anything with the candy. And my daughter wasn't eating great. And she was kind of in this just sugar fix. And she was, got way too much candy from the Halloween treats. But all of a sudden her behavior changed and it was drastic. And it was like within, I would say like minutes and I figured out what she had been eating. It was M&Ms and then there were some Starbursts. And her mood and behavior was very just irrational and just, she seemed like a different person and it lasted for over an hour. And I thought that is biochemical.


LEAH: Yeah, cause you shared before, usually if that does happen to your daughter, it's usually very short-lived.


KARA: Yeah. It might be like a little tantrum; running in the bedroom crying and then like within 10 or 15 minutes, the crying stops and then they kind of get it all their system and then they're reading a book or they, they come out and they're fine. But this seemed very biochemical, like something was going on inside her body that she couldn't control. So I hypothesized that, gosh, maybe she is sensitive to red dye and she just got kind of an overload. And so I decided to go through her Halloween candy and I just got rid of anything that had red or pink.


LEAH: Yeah.  


KARA: Now I'm going to have to go back and see if anything brown might have red dye, like you were saying.


LEAH: Yeah, absolutely; go take one more look through everything. But yeah, that's so interesting. And you know, us parents, we know our kids really well. We get to know their typical demeanors. We get to know their patterns and things like that. So when you notice that change like that and it's something out of the ordinary, you start to question; all right, what is different? And specifically us nutritionists, we think about, okay, what could they have possibly eaten or what are they missing or what's the food connection to how they're behaving at that time?


KARA: Yeah. Yeah. So I encourage other parents too, you know, maybe just kind of think twice if your child has behavior that seems irrational and you can't really pinpoint it; like it wasn't related to sleep or you know, was it something they ate? It could have been an artificial color, for example.


LEAH: Yup, absolutely. So many parents do notice an increase in hyperactivity in their kids after a sweet snack, thinking it may just be the sugar rush and yep, this may be true. We know sugar; those sugar spikes can lead to some of that restlessness, the irrational behavior, the inattentiveness or an inability to focus. But maybe a little bit of it could be related to red dye number 40 also. Now the food manufacturers are required to list these dyes on the ingredients labels. So your best strategy for avoiding these food dyes is to look at the ingredients list. So don't just look at the front of the package. Turn it over and look at the ingredients list and stay clear of any food dyes, whether it's red or yellow or blue or any of those. And so on the ingredients list, you will probably see that red dye number 40 on there, but you may also see a couple other terms. You may see something that says F, D and C red number 40. It's still the same thing. It's still red dye number 40. Or another term: I don't know that I've seen it on too many food products, but I saw it on an article that I was looking at. It's called Allura. A-l-l-u-r-a number 40; red number 40; same thing. So these are all different terms for that red dye number 40 so just keep an eye out on the ingredients list for those terms.


KARA: Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.


LEAH: Yeah, so rather than trying to find a soda or a sports drink or anything that has any of those food dyes, maybe the drink of choice should really be water. And I know that's what I do for my son. He drinks almost exclusively water. He had a couple of sips of my red berries herbal ice tea the other day, but I guarantee you that did not have any red dye number 40 in it.


KARA: Natural from the plant.


LEAH: Yes; from the berries; absolutely. So I encourage families; I strongly encourage families to get rid of the sugary beverages, the soda, the fruit drinks, and to really just focus on drinking filtered water.


KARA: Yeah. And you know, once in awhile like sparkling water. They have some great flavored sparkling waters like Bubbly, La Croix; obviously no sugar, no artificial sweeteners in those. And maybe one or sometimes I'll have two a day probably at most, but that's another way to get in some water without worrying about coloring and chemicals.


LEAH: Absolutely. That’s a great idea.


KARA: I was surprised to find that there's red dye number 40 or yellow dye number five hiding in many unexpected foods such as fake butter that's used in butter-flavored popcorn; even some barbecue sauces and frozen lasagna. Also, now this is really the kicker that a lot of children's vitamins contain red dye number 40; especially, you know, you think about like the gummies and the chewy; the chewables. And at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we recommend a couple of brands that are found in our office and on our website, Supernutes Multivitamin chewable tabs. Those are gluten-free. They don't contain yeast or any artificial colors or flavors. Another brand is Suppys: that's with an “s”. And it's children's chewable multivitamin. That's made with organic vegetables and of course because we're carrying it in our office, we want a high quality product for the kiddos. That's going to be also free of artificial coloring or flavors.


LEAH: Yeah, those are both great products and Kara, I think that highlights the importance as well to continue checking labels, but not only on your foods, but any supplements that you are taking. Medications sometimes contain that red dye number 40 and even some personal care products. So just again, pay attention to the labels. Now before we change topics, I want to share what Dr. Mark Hyman, who I just love the title of his book. It's called Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? And what he says about soda; he says that “sugar-sweetened beverages are the single biggest factor contributing to obesity and are also linked to type-two diabetes, fatty liver, kidney failure, high blood pressure, heart disease and more.” And the more part is actually its effect on the brain. So I think I saw we got our signal from the producer that we have to go to break. So Kara, why don’t you to take us to break?


KARA: You bet. We'll finish up what you were talking about when we come back from break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today, many children and adults are looking for a more natural alternative to treat their ADHD symptoms and there's some solid research that has found omega-three fatty acids can help curb the symptoms of ADHD. Researchers have found that omega-three fatty acids boost the brain’s use of this neurotransmitter that we have called dopamine. Dopamine is needed for focus and memory. When we get back, Leah, will share more information about the importance of omega-three fatty acids.




LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As Kara mentioned before the break omega-three fatty acids actually help with the utilization of that neurotransmitter dopamine into our brain cells, whereas things like sugar and processed carbohydrates block the reception. Our cell receptors are made up of omega-three fatty acids and recent research has found that the cell receptors are specifically made up of the fatty acid called DHA. That is one of our omega-three fatty acids. And at Nutritional Weight and Wellness we have found the most effective fatty acid for controlling ADHD symptoms is DHA from algae oil. We find that taking a higher dose of DHA, so three to four softgels every day for about three months really supports that neurotransmitter activity and it helps to increase focus. We know that the brain is about 60 to 70% fat and most of that fat is that DHA omega-three fatty acid. Now we always talk about food first. So food sources that contain DHA are eggs from pastured chickens, fatty fish like salmon, sardines. And then again thinking back into our infant days: breast milk. We encourage both a food source and a supplement source for anyone who may be struggling with focus or memory; so one egg from a pastured chicken contains about a hundred milligrams of DHA; so two eggs should contain about 200 milligrams. And as a matter of fact, the DHA is contained in the egg yolk. So this was actually one of the first foods that I gave my son when we first started introducing those solid foods around six months. You know, we had avocado in there. We had a banana in there. But I also introduced egg yolk really early on because yeah, because of that DHA fat and helping his little growing brain.


KARA: Sure. Cause those brains are growing for a long time, and especially in the beginning.


LEAH: Yes, absolutely. So that developing brain needs a steady supply of good fats. So, the egg yolk, the avocados, nut butters. I was just thinking about this too. I was feeding my son breakfast the other day. He was getting a little antsy before I actually had cooked up his eggs, so I just gave him a couple of little slivers of butter and he chowed those right down.


KARA: Oh really?


LEAH: Yeah, he seemed really happy about that afterwards. So just that fat is wonderful for every single brain, but especially our kids who have growing brains. They need to do lots of learning and they're trying to absorb all this information.


KARA: That's a great point. So we don't want to be… personally, we shouldn't be eating egg whites or just the whites as adults, but especially for our kids, they need the yolk. They need that good omega-three fatty acid that comes from the yolk.


LEAH: Yup, absolutely. So we want our kids’ brains to be filled with those good fats and then really trying to avoid as much as possible those refined oils or those damaged fats. And that's the stuff like soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil. We've talked about those a lot over the years our show.


KARA: Yeah. Those highly refined, high-heated processed oils are best to be avoided.


LEAH: Yes, absolutely.


KARA: So you were talking… this was a little bit ago before break, Dr. Mark Hyman who wrote Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? And you were quoting him.


LEAH: Yup. And he was talking about the connection between soda, those liquid sugar sources and the connection between obesity and diabetes and lots of other chronic diseases, but also the brain. And more recent research also from the National Institutes of Health found that high fructose corn syrup in soda can affect memory and slow down the learning process. This particular study that I'm going to talk about: it was a rat study, but still interesting things to consider. Researchers found that rats lost their problem-solving ability and memory when they were fed soda. So we've talked about the fact that soda drinks are… they're not good for human brains or bodies, but they're not even good for rats.


KARA: Wow. Now you know what people who have ADHD should not eat or drink. So we're going to move on to discuss what the ADHD diet should be. What foods should someone with ADHD be eating to support their brain? So first and foremost, your brain needs protein to function. We recommend eating three to four ounces of protein several times per day. I would say at least three times per day. And sometimes it can be even more beneficial to be eating protein five times per day; so with your three meals and your two snacks. And some healthy protein choices; some examples are beef, pork, poultry, such as turkey and chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products like cottage cheese, whey protein powder, plain yogurt, and lamb even. So those are all examples of healthy proteins to eat to support the brain.


LEAH: Yes, great ideas Kara. And talking about those protein rich foods, like what exactly do they do for our brain? So biochemically, when we eat these protein-rich foods, and a lot of times it's the meats, the fish, dairy, things like that. They're broken down and digested in our intestinal track, which then when we absorb them, they are used to make our neurotransmitters, those little brain chemicals or the chemicals that are used by our cells and especially our brain cells to communicate with each other. And protein makes a key neurotransmitter that we've talked about already called dopamine. That's the important neurotransmitter for focus, so it's really important to have enough protein available to be able to make enough dopamine to have enough focus.


KARA: It's good to start with protein right away in the morning. I have protein every day for breakfast. My daughter does as well because I know that protein makes our brain awakening neurotransmitter, which is a dopamine. So whether my daughter is going off to school, whether I'm starting work, you know, you have to think to yourself, do you want your brain charged up with dopamine first thing in the morning so you're ready to focus at the task at hand? Sadly, cereal and toast: those are things that are pretty common breakfasts. And those types of things tend to shut down our ability to focus. I see… sometimes I see other kids just kind of grabbing a cereal bar and maybe they're heading into school with a cereal bar. And I mean I've seen firsthand what that would do to my daughter. If she had a cereal bar for breakfast, her blood sugar would spike pretty rapidly and within like one to two hours it would crash. That can, that low blood sugar crash can lead to inattention, poor behavior, maybe even fatigue; poor moods.


LEAH: Yeah. And especially if they don't have lunch coming for three to four hours after they start school. So it's not going to sustain them.


KARA: It's not a great way to start the day as far as focus.


LEAH: Yes, absolutely. So a simple breakfast idea could be a couple of eggs and some blueberries. And maybe that's deviled eggs if you like deviled eggs. It could be just hard boiled eggs. It could be scrambled eggs, depending on what you have time for in the morning. But eggs, remember, have that good DHA fat in it. So eggs are a great way to start that morning with DHA and the protein. And maybe you have some blueberries on the side or maybe a banana with a little bit of peanut butter in there. And I also recommend eating a balanced meal or snack usually about every three hours throughout the day. So for most people that's going to look like eating four to five times throughout the day to support the care and the feeding of your brain. And it keeps your blood sugar balanced. We just talked about that a little bit. And when your blood sugar is balanced and stable, your energy is going to be balanced and stable throughout the day. So start the day with… if you choose deviled eggs and you're using mayonnaise with those deviled eggs, choose the mayonnaise that uses those good healthy oils. So either an expeller-pressed safflower oil mayonnaise or an avocado oil mayonnaise. That's one of my favorites. And be sure to avoid the mayonnaise that uses soybean oil or canola oils; those more damaged fats. Eat the blueberries because they are nutrient dense and high in antioxidants. And then don't forget to, say after that breakfast plan for a mid-morning snack, especially again if your lunch isn’t for another three, four potentially for some people even six hours later. One option could be to take a protein shake with you to work or send it with your child for school. And you can use the Nutrikey Whey Protein Powder that we talked about or maybe a Paleo Protein Powder if you don't digest dairy very well. Have a little fruit in there like berries and maybe add something like our Key Greens and Fruit for extra antioxidant power. Use some canned coconut milk for some good fat in there as well.


KARA: Those smoothies and protein shakes: they're so convenient. I'm always bringing one with me or making one for my daughter. Some others will send along with their kids an organic meat stick or maybe a turkey stick with a few olives, and a carbohydrate could be carrot sticks or celery. And that would be considered a wonderful balanced snack. So we're getting flagged to take our last break. So I'll finish up that when we come back. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And we have been discussing how following a real food diet can help to reduce ADD and ADHD symptoms. Have you noticed teenagers lined up at your local coffee shops getting a frappuccino or a latte? These don't just contain coffee. They usually have some kind of flavoring. They have quite a bit of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. And I want to share some coffee house sugar shocks with you today. Excess sugar has been found to impair our memory skills and self control. So as an example, back more around Halloween when the pumpkin spice lattes and frappuccinos were popular, those contained over 18 teaspoons of added sugar. That's for a 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte; 18 teaspoons of added sugar. Peppermint mocha latte: that's kind of another holiday favorite at the moment. And a 16-ounce peppermint mocha latte has more than 15 teaspoons of added sugar. A 16-ounce chai tea latte, which is popular all year long, has 11 teaspoons of added sugar. You might be thinking, “Why is sugar so bad for our brain?” Well, a 2016 study published in behavioral brain research found high inflammation markers in the hippocampal region of the brain, and that was in rats that were fed a high sugar diet. The rats that were fed a low sugar diet did not have those inflammation markers. We know that excess sugar is harmful to the brain and can result in poor memory, poor attention and poor behavior. And that's both in rats and humans. We’ll be right back.




LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. It can be difficult to stay on your real food eating plan because the holiday treats seem to be calling your name and it's so hard to just say no. How can you avoid temptation and still keep the commitment to your health and your real food plan? You may find that making a weekly appointment with your nutritionist or dietician supports your effort to avoid those holiday temptations. And for many of our clients, their commitment to get through the holidays without that dreaded holiday weight gain is through those supported individual nutrition appointments or even taking a class. So we have some special offers that we want to offer to our clients and to our listeners that we have available to you so you can help keep that commitment to yourself. So for the next seven days, we are offering $100 off a three-pack of one-hour nutrition appointments. So this is $100 worth of savings. This three-pack is regularly $330, excuse me, but for the next seven days it is only $230 so that is huge; a huge savings to touch base with your nutritionist or dietitian three times maybe throughout the holiday season. This offer is good until December 7th and it's an offer you shouldn't refuse but rather use to help you through the holidays. We are also offering $75 off our popular Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series that starts in January at most, if not all of our locations. And then lastly, our after Thanksgiving special is 15% off all of our Nutrikey supplements. So take advantage of this sale which is offered through Saturday, December 7th. And if you'd like to take advantage of any of these special offers, whether it's the counseling, whether it's the Nutrition for Weight loss series or with the products... And if you have any questions you can give our offices a call at 651-699-3438. So Kara, you on the other side of break we were, you were just sharing some ideas; some simple ideas for snacks, some balanced snacks for kids and adults alike. And I think you had a few more.


KARA: Yeah and I said one right as we were going to break. I'll just quickly repeat that; just a great quick one is organic, preferably grass-fed if you can find that as well. Organic grass-fed meat sticks or turkey sticks and have a few olives and either a piece of fruit or possibly just some carrot sticks. And this is the type of snack that is going to support the brain for focusing. So we kind of need to start thinking outside of the box, even when it comes to lunch. I know a common lunch might be peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Personally, I'm always thinking when I'm packing my daughter's lunch, I always start with a protein, you know. How can I… start with the protein and then go from there. And a couple of examples might be some organic nitrate-free deli meat and make some roll-ups and just, you know, put some toothpicks through that; one or two cheese sticks. You could even have like two or three ounces of leftover meat from dinner, whether that's chicken; maybe some chunks of chicken or shredded pork. And then of course I always try to add in just a fruit that my daughter likes and a vegetable that she likes. And I know that can be tough, but if your child likes a couple of vegetables, rotate those in and out. And you know, of course gradually start offering more. And then we need that healthy fat for balancing the blood sugar and for supporting the brain. Guacamole and avocados are wonderful nuts and nut butter. If you are not able to send that in lunch because of allergies at the school, you can always go with more of like a sunflower butter. That's what we do. Olives and full-fat cream cheese are really simple healthy fat choices. Now if you're looking for additional ideas, I suggest that you join us for the Food Connection to ADHD Seminar. That's going to be returning again after the holiday season. It's not offered like every month, so you want to kind of jump at this and the seminar: it's presented by two very knowledgeable and seasoned teachers. And they have firsthand experience with dealing with ADHD because they each have adult children who struggled with that. So you'll get a lot of great information from them.


LEAH: Yeah, we understand that ADHD is a complex and very frustrating problem at times. A considerable number of people who have ADHD are sensitive to maybe a few but maybe actually many different foods and food additives. We know that up to at least 5% of school-age children suffer from ADHD and research has found strong evidence for an association between ADHD and celiac disease. Children and adults with undiagnosed celiac disease have a higher risk for ADHD than the general population. And as a reminder, celiac disease is that genetic sensitivity to gluten and they have a very strong and intense reaction to consuming any amount of gluten. There are some experts who believe actually many of us are sensitive to gluten and feel better when we follow a gluten-free diet. So whether or not you have celiac disease, you may still have a sensitivity and still may be reacting in a negative way to gluten. More and more research about the harmful effects of gluten continue to be addressed. So I challenge my clients. I say, could we give up gluten or take gluten out of the diet for four to six weeks? Run that experiment on yourself and see what you notice.


KARA: That's a really good timeframe to be able to determine: was there a benefit in removing gluten for four to six weeks? As parents, Leah and I understand that changing your diet, either for an adult or a child can be pretty challenging. And after working with a lot of middle school-aged children, I also know that we can't force children to follow a certain eating plan. They have to agree to want to do this; and as much as kids love their parents… I, Leah don't we find that kids are more open to trying a new thing or a new way of eating if someone else is recommending it?


LEAH: Yes, I hear that all the time from parents. They come in hoping that we can give some suggestions and some ideas that the child may be more open to as opposed to coming from mom and dad.


KARA: Yeah, and as a nutritionist, I mean both Leah and I try to help these kids understand that the impact certain foods and certain beverages have on their focus in behavior is pretty dramatic. We like to set short-term goals. You know, set the goals together with the teen or with the child and then ask, “Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to give up soda for three weeks? Are you willing to have a breakfast with protein instead of cereal for the next three weeks?” Those types of changes in the diet usually will show almost immediate results and kids notice that and they, a lot of them are motivated by that and they want to keep going because they feel better.


LEAH: Absolutely; yes. It doesn't take months at a time to make some of these changes. Some of these changes are felt almost right away. Yeah, so there's no one cookie cutter approach to ending ADHD symptoms and there isn’t going to be a 100% success rate, but this is a natural way to heal the brain that doesn't have any adverse side effects, which sometimes can come with the medications that are prescribed from ADHD. And sometimes just getting that red dye number 40 out of the diet can have the most amazing results.


KARA: Changing your diet or your child's diet can sometimes feel overwhelming and you might think, “Is this really even worth it?” I want to share some remarkable research findings. According to a study published in the Lancet in 2011, researchers found a staggering improvement of ADHD symptoms in those who were eating a real food diet. And they were also avoiding the foods that they were sensitive to. The researchers suggested that over half of the children in the study that had been diagnosed with ADHD were hypersensitive to these foods. The foods were dairy, wheat and products with food colorings and artificial ingredients. So changing any diet we know is challenging, but the end result: it's so worth it. And like Leah said, there are no adverse side effects from trying a new way of eating; just better health. So if you're wondering “Is this worth it?” Yes, we know it's challenging, especially for all parents and anyone who's been eating a certain way for a long time to change what they're eating and drinking. But it is absolutely worth it.


LEAH: Mm hm absolutely. And I do find when I'm counseling parents and kids and we're asking them to make some of these changes, what I also try to throw out there is, and probably what parents feel overwhelmed about is the change usually isn't just made for this one child. It's something that the family… it's easier when the family can kind of adopt and make these changes at the same time and support the child or the person who has the ADHD as well.


KARA: It sure is so much easier if everybody in the household gets onboard.


LEAH: So that's too where it can feel a little more overwhelming. It's not just one person; sometimes the family unit. But we, that's what we counsel people on all the time too is how do we figure out how to make this work for the family.


KARA: Yeah.


LEAH: Yeah. So on Dishing Up Nutrition and in many of our classes we like to share information about the benefits of having a healthy intestinal track and sufficient probiotics or those good bacteria in our intestinal tract to digest our food. So this also goes back to the research I shared about the connection between celiac disease and ADHD. And I always ask my clients who have ADHD; I always delve into their gut history. Do they struggle with things like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, gas and bloating, indigestion; anything that might indicate an imbalance in their digestive track. Now, in a study published in 2000 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this study showed that children who were breastfed were far less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. And this study also found that having numerous ear infections and being put on numerous rounds of antibiotics was highly associated with an increased risk for ADHD. Additionally, children who were born by C-section had triple the risk for ADHD. So the results of these studies all point to the importance of good gut bacteria; those probiotics. We know that good gut bacteria, particularly bifido bacteria, which is the primary bacteria in our small intestinal tract, it helps us to break down and digest our food, which supports the production of our neurotransmitters like dopamine that we've talked about, our B vitamins and key nutrients for the brain. So food really matters, and so does the digestion of your food. Children who are breastfed naturally receive that bifido bacteria and non breastfed babies have better digestion and immune function when we can supplement in just some of that extra bifido bacteria as a supplement, whether it's a capsule or whether it's in powder form. And we carry both of those in our offices.


KARA: If ADHD symptoms are negatively affecting you or your child or a loved one, I encourage you to call our office at (651) 699-3438 and set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that this is typically not a one and done appointment. It sometimes, you know, it might take a few appointments. People need to have that support and accountability and nutrition education when changing these eating habits. And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.


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