A healthy breakfast is a key factor in helping a child with ADHD begin her/his day well. This can be very challenging for parents because sometimes it’s so hard to determine what to offer or how to make sure that we are giving our kids the right combination of foods.
So what does the ideal breakfast for a child with ADHD look like?
Most of us provide a high carbohydrate food in the morning, thinking that this is what kids need to start their day. We don’t realise that giving a child who has ADHD food rich in carbohydrates – such as waffles, toast, or fruit loops – can be a recipe for disaster. The excess of carbs results in unstable blood sugar levels throughout the day and can mean your child loses focus in the classroom and is easily distracted and restless.
The ideal breakfast for a child with ADHD contains lots of proteins, plus fruit and veg as well as carbohydrate from whole grain. Protein plays an important role in the treatment of ADHD because it helps stabilise blood sugar levels. There are two healthy proteins that are considered to be the most effective in maintaining the mood of an ADHD child: tryptophan, which is also known as the relaxing amino acid, and tyrosine, which is a neurostimulant that increases the dopamine level. These proteins help regulate attention, mood, memory and cognition because they keep the brain properly nourished.
Avoid processed foods because they often include chemicals like refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup, which deplete vitamins like folic acid that aids amino acid to synthesize neurotransmitters. Instead, including lots of fruit and vegetables helps give your ADHD kid the vitamins and minerals that the body needs.
These are some of the foods that are good for an ADHD child:
Proteins: Eggs, cheese, yoghurt, full fat milk, salmon, nuts, peanut butter (look for natural ones without extra sweeteners), lean meats and poultry (chicken/turkey slices, ham etc), baked beans
Fruit and veg: Bananas, apples, oranges, spinach, fruit juices, homemade fruit smoothies/milkshakes
Whole wheat and whole grain bread and cereals (e.g. Weetabix, Shredded Wheat)
Avoid low fat or fat free foods – these are stuffed full of sugar to make them taste good, and anyway, fat is actually GOOD for the brain! And be aware that many breakfast cereals are actually bad for an ADHD child because of the enhanced sugars within them that can affect attention and feelings. Go for wholewheat cereals like Weetabix or instead of cereal, offer fruits and starchy foods that burn sugar slowly and do not affect a child’s behavior or emotions in the same way.
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