Great Articles on Diet and Exercise for Kids With ADHD

By Isabella Simone on Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Paying attention to one’s diet and exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle in today’s 21st-century world. This is important for adults as well as children. All too often as parents, we are so busy that we don’t take the time to get regular exercise. You might be too busy making sure that everyone gets ready and out of the house in the morning, that your children get to their softball or soccer practices on time, or that they are completing their homework. Sometimes even the family diet is affected as it is often dictated by how much time we have to cook and prepare a meal rather than spent considering what would be best to eat for our minds and bodies. The goal of eating healthy, going for regular walks, bike rides, and other types of exercise may seem impossible. But what if I told you that paying more attention to your own exercise and diet could have a positive impact on your child’s ADHD symptoms? Below you will find a number of great articles exploring the relationship between food and exercise and ADHD symptoms.

Parents likely know the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.” Modeling healthy behavior for kids will have great long term effects on how they take care of themselves, even more so than verbally telling them what to do. For example it has been found that parents who regularly exercise have kids that regularly exercise. For kids with ADHD, this is powerful information. While we know that a lack of exercise does not cause ADHD, there are now volumes of evidence that suggests that regular vigorous exercise dramatically helps children with their ADHD. My recommendation is about 45 to 60 minutes a day of vigorous physical exercise for students with ADHD, preferably with even just a portion of this exercise getting done before they go to school.  If that’s not possible, having them do it after school and before they do their homework can help them get out some of this energy before attempting to focus on homework. 

Modeling a good diet is also helpful for kids with ADHD. There have been many long-standing assertions that a poor diet or one in which there are many food additives causes ADHD. However, for the most part we look closely at the research that suggests that diet can be helpful at minimizing the impact of ADHD symptoms rather than it being a direct cause of ADHD.  Some recent research raises questions about whether diets such as the Mediterranean diet actually can help kids with ADHD. For the most part, when we look closely at the research it suggests that diet can be helpful at minimizing some of the impacts of ADHD symptoms but is not directly a cause of ADHD.

To learn more about how diet and exercise can help kids with ADHD, I encourage you to read the following articles.

ADHD: Healthy Diets and Exercises

This article, published on Everyday Health, helps explain the natural treatments of ADHD, consisting of diet and exercise. The article touches on the effects of exercise on the brain as well as some of the best types of exercise for ADHD. They also touch on a number of food groups and suggestions that should be well established in your child’s diet. 

ADHD Nutrition: Improving Your Child’s Diet at School and at Home

Laura J. Stevens, in this article, published on the ADDitude website, touches on some main talking points, and gives access to a webinar that was previously recorded titled “Your ADHD Back-to-School Nutrition and Exercise Plan.” The webinar is free and available to anyone who cares to listen to it!

The Influence of Diet on ADHD

This article, posted on Psychiatric Times, looks at elimination diets and the effects of omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients on ADHD. The article gives suggestions on how to incorporate these into daily life, as well as some additional clinical recommendations.

Beyond Genes: Leveraging Sleep, Exercise, and Nutrition to Improve ADHD

This article, published on the ADDitude website, touches on the environmental aspect of ADHD, rather than the genetic. It touches on the natural treatments of ADHD that involve eating, fitness, and sleep habits. 

ADHD and Exercise

Rae Jacobson, in her article ADHD and Exercise, speaks on the new and exciting emphasis on exercise as a potential treatment for ADHD. Jacobson finds that “regular physical activity decreased the severity of ADHD symptoms and improved cognitive functioning in children.”

Nutrition and ADHD

This piece published on the CHADD website, shares a lot of information on the use of nutrition to help with ADHD. The article also contains two great videos, a book, as well as five articles all related to nutrition and ADHD. 

Can Exercise Help ADHD Symptoms?

Eileen Bailey, in her article on Health Central, speaks on why exercise helps, how much exercise is needed, as well as the best types of exercise to engage in to help manage ADHD symptoms. 

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