Parents in Action: Food and your child's behavior

It’s enough to drive you crazy.  Your child can’t concentrate on anything, sitting still is impossible and homework is out the window. Why is this happening? Many kids will be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, and more.  According to the CDC, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD in 2011, 6.1% of which were taking ADHD medication.

With the steady increase of parents resorting to medication and counseling you may be considering one or both for your child. But before you choose to medicate the problem, consider how their diet may be playing a role.

What to Avoid?

Processed sugars and carbohydrates leave your kids hyper at first and then feel hungry and tired by the time lunch comes around.

Additives - avoid artificial flavors and colors.  
These items have been linked to hyperactive behavior and learning disabilities.  These additives can also affect sleep.  

Chemical compounds like sodium nitrate which is commonly used to preserve bacon, ham, hot dogs, processed meats and sodium benzoate found in soft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings and other foods — causes some children to become more hyperactive and distractible than usual.

Soda pop  
High consumption of sugary drinks like soda and mostly all sweetened beverages cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar leaving kids irritable, tired - and even hungry! Hydrate with water!

Toss the Junk    
Alongside lacking vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, junk foods reduce the body's uptake of nutrients that improve children’s concentration. There is a huge assortment of “grab-and-go” snacks available on the market today. While a convenient option to homemade snacks, processed snacks are often high in sugar, salt and fat. When stocking up, check the label. Aim for snacks that contain less than 20% daily value for sodium and fat, and less than 7 grams of sugar per serving.

Your pediatrician will also be able to help you hone in on possible trigger foods that may be contributing to ADHD symptoms.