According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 11% of children ages 4-17 were diagnosed with ADHD in 2011. Boys were almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
More and more parents are seeking natural ways to ease the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While it is good to consider all your options, it is always best to start with the least harmful interventions. Natural treatment options like nutrition have very little risk involved and no side effects.
Dietary and lifestyle changes have proven to be effective courses of action for many children. If natural interventions do not seem to ease or reduce your child’s symptoms then medication should be considered as a last resort. We say last resort because there are serious risks when using drug interventions.
This decision should not be made without thoughtful consideration of long-term consequences. Medications often have side effects that can disrupt other aspects of your child’s health and well-being. We now know that these medications can become gateway drugs for kids who go on to become young adults that develop a heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.
There are other alternatives that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. Both conventional medicine and alternative medicine agree that changes in diet have shown to help reduce symptoms and minimize the need for medication. Unfortunately the majority of studies suggests there is no direct link between attention disorders and sugar and processed foods.
But empowered parents know that many of these studies are funded by food manufacturers and biochemical companies that have a vested interest in the outcome. We suggest you conduct your own study by removing specific foods from your child’s diet to see if it has a noticeable effect on behavior.
What Empowered Parents Can Do:
- Begin with eliminating sugar, processed foods, dyes, and artificial sweeteners from your child’s diets. These are stimulants that contain chemicals that inhibit brain functions. Chemicals in processed foods can offset the chemical balance in the brain. These chemicals are known to cause allergic reactions in children which may be a contributing factor to your child’s behavior.
- Have your child tested for any nutritional deficiencies and allergies to specific foods. Allergies have been linked to ADHD and a lack of nutrients (especially B vitamins) may cause problems in thought processing and impulse control. Magnesium can be supplemented to bring about a calming effect to those who suffer with anxiety and irritability as it helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Add healthy fats to your child’s diet. The brain is nearly 60% fat so essential fatty acids are required for brain development, healing, and play an important supportive role to brain neurotransmitters. Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish oil promote healthy nerves and brain functions.
- Encourage grazing and nibbling on raw fruits and vegetables (organic when possible). They are rich in dietary fiber and can help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Plus they contain vital minerals and nutrients.
- Chicken, fish, and eggs (provided no egg allergy) are complete proteins which can provide your child with the necessary amino acids needed to for growth and development.
- Dr. Ben Feingold of the Feingold Diet suggest that many children are hyper because they are sensitive to salicylate containing foods: apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, cucumbers, grapes, oranges, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes and the antioxidants, BHT and BHA. Try temporarily removing these foods from your child’s diet and note any noticeable changes.
- Limit exposure to TV, internet, and video games which can over stimulate the mind.
- Set clear boundaries and enforce them. Children will push limits if they have even the slightest belief that they might get away with it. Many parents don’t believe this but children crave boundaries. It makes them feel safe. They thrive in an environment where they know the rules and learn how to work within the confines of these rules. This is also a great way to prepare your child to enter into the adult world where rules are abounded. Giving them options will help them to develop decision making skills and learn accountability.
- Most importantly, encourage your child’s talents and creativity. This can serve as a great outlet for energy whether it’s drawing, singing, skateboarding or sports. The child that you think is out of control may just be the struggling artist in him trying to find his way.
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