Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) has been in and out of the media for more than two decades.  There is a lot of information out there and some of it is…false.  To help clarify fact from fiction, here are 5 myths about nutrition and ADHD uncovered.

  1. ADHD is caused by food intolerance.


Search online and you will find that many people believe that ADHD symptoms are caused by food intolerance.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Although there may be overlapping symptoms, this neurological condition is not caused by food intolerance or sensitivity to foods.   There is no evidence to support that food is anyway involved in the cause of ADHD.

  1. Hyperactivity in ADHD leads to underweight status.qtq80-WXBOdw

There are a couple issues with statement.  One, the hyperactive symptom does not always manifest in gross motor movements.  Sometimes it is manifested in fine motor movements such as tics, blinking, or other minor movements.  These could not possibly lead to a considerable energy deficit.  Secondly, most children with untreated ADHD are at risk for being overweight due to their impulsive eating behaviors.  

  1. Food additives worsen ADHD symptoms.qtq80-4GhLxS

There is a paucity of research when it comes to the effect of food additives, such as BHT or BHA, on ADHD symptoms.  Anecdotal evidence reveals that some children benefit from eliminating these and other food additives from the diet.  So, many parents of children with ADHD want to try elimination diets despite the lack of sufficient evidence to support them. 

  1. The content of the diet is more important than dietary behaviors.qtq80-l3rPkI

There are a few nutrients that have been linked to ADHD, but these do not take center stage in the nutrition care plan.  Many of the nutrition issues that a patient with ADHD encounters are related to dietary behaviors.  The nutrition professional will often focus on eating behaviors, food environments, and creating food boundaries.  Whether an adult or a child, the patient with ADHD needs assistance learning specific routines that help them coordinate healthy eating with ADHD behavior management.

  1. Nutrition professionals will never help clients with an ADHD Elimination diet.qtq80-DkPjEL

Nutrition professionals have a bad rep as being dictators who are unwavering in their fight to get people to eat tasteless diets.  Truth is, they are looking to involve patients in their own health by providing them the tools and support necessary to succeed.  Almost all nutrition professionals are open to incorporating the preferences of the patient into the nutrition care plan, even if these preferences are not supported by a lot of research.  They are more concerned about their patients being nutritionally healthy.

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To learn more about Nutrition and ADHD, go to www.icenp.org and search the catalog for the Nutrition and ADHD bundle.  This includes a lecture-based module and an opportunity to gain experience with a popular elimination diet used to treat ADHD.  Altogether, this is worth 10 CPEUs for RDNs and NDTRs.  You can also opt just to learn more information through the Nutrition & ADHD lecture-based module alone (worth 2 CPEUs). 


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