People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Learn how the condition can affect all aspects of their lives – from how well they do in school to their relationships. But many people with ADHD may not be aware of the extent to which the condition affects their eating habits. And if these bad eating habits are left unchecked, it could eventually affect their mental and physical health.
Some of the most common problems are “hyperfixation” and binge eating. Over fixation is an intense focus on certain activities or interests, but it can include eating habits as well. This means that some people may only eat a certain food or meal for a while before they get tired of it and switch to a different food or meal.
Studies have also shown an association between ADHD and certain eating disorders, with binge eating disorders being the most common. Binge eating disorder occurs when people consume large amounts of foods over a short period of time, even when they are not hungry. It is estimated that approximately one-third of people in the United States who have binge eating disorders also have ADHD.
Some experts believe that people with ADHD may overeat to meet their need for stimulation. Overeating may also occur because ADHD makes it difficult for people to self-control and self-regulate, which means they may be more likely to overeat if they feel sad or angry, and may not find it easy to tell when they are are full.
Some evidence suggests that overeating in people with ADHD may be attributed to an increased neural reward response to food rather than an impulsivity. This occurs when the brain is exposed to a stimulus that rewards and responds by releasing an increased amount of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with reward and pleasure. However, impulsivity (another symptom of ADHD) may also lead to overeating – especially unhealthy foods.
Some ADHD medications can also suppress appetite during the day. But as the effects of the drug wear off in the evening, the appetite increases, which can lead to overeating.
Sensory issues may also explain why some people with ADHD tend to eat or avoid certain foods. Certain textures or scents may overload their sensory organs, making it difficult for people with ADHD to eat them—leading to avoiding those foods or food groups altogether.
There is also evidence that people with ADHD tend to gravitate toward junk foods, especially foods high in sugar. This may be because foods rich in sugar stimulate the release of dopamine.
People with ADHD have low levels of dopamine. As such, they may be more “wired” to search for dopamine. Since eating simple carbohydrates (such as foods high in sugar) triggers a dopamine rush in the brain, this may be why people with ADHD tend to focus excessively or overeat these foods.
Nutrition and ADHD
Not following a varied diet or eating only foods that may be high in sugar can lead to a range of health problems, from vitamin deficiencies to obesity. High-sugar diets can also affect energy levels and mood.
Some preliminary research suggests that certain foods, for example, highly processed additives and preservatives, may also alter behavior and cognitive development.
Several studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies can affect behavior and cognitive function in people with ADHD. Vitamin D and magnesium, in particular, are important, as research has shown that they may improve attention and reduce hyperactivity to some extent. Vitamin D can also affect the way dopamine is made in the brain.
But although ADHD can make it difficult to keep track of your eating habits, if you have ADHD, there are things you can do to improve the situation. Here are some of them:
Shop and plan meals for the week ahead. Meal planning makes it easy to decide what and when to eat and may help you avoid buying or overeating unhealthy processed foods.
3. Eat small but nutritious meals throughout the day
If planned, it can help you avoid filling up on unhealthy snacks — and it may even help you avoid overindulging in the evening if you’re someone who forgets to eat all day. A balance of protein and complex carbs (like chicken, beans or whole grains) will help you get enough of the right nutrients and vitamins, but will also help you feel fuller for longer and give you energy.
2. Create a healthy food environment at home –
This may include not buying high-calorie snacks or replacing them with nutritious ones – such as fruits or vegetables, which may help improve your attention.
1. Supplement some vitamins and minerals
People with ADHD are more likely to be deficient in certain micronutrients, including omega-3s, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients are important to ensure your brain, body, and immune system are working at their best.
While it may not always be easy to modify your diet, working with a dietitian or psychologist, getting help from a loved one, or even using a daily meal planner can be helpful in helping you move forward on the right track. Even making a few small changes to your daily eating habits can have a big impact on your long-term health.
This article was originally published Conversation Written by Hazel Flight at Edge Hill University. Read the original article here.