It may be easy to blame artificially colored, additive-filled cupcakes, candies, and other brightly hued, sugary treats for the behavior of kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) -- who really wants their kids to eat a lot of that stuff anyway? But according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics, in most cases, eliminating artificial food dyes and other additives from the diets of kids with ADHD probably won't rid them of symptoms. In fact, the "elimination" diets popular with parents of kids with ADHD might be more trouble than they're worth, researchers have concluded.
However, although elimination diets probably won't erase signs of ADHD, giving your kid a healthy diet isn't the worst idea -- and may even prove useful with other treatments, experts say.
Specifically, you should make sure your kid has a steady intake of healthy foods throughout the day -- including especially fish, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy -- and cut back on (though not necessarily eliminate) sugary treats, processed foods, red meat, and dairy that's high in fat. You could also supplement your kid's diet with omega-3s from fish oil. Of course, this isn't terribly different from what's recommended for all kids.
In other words, there is no special magic diet bullet for kids with ADHD. I imagine this must come as both welcome and unwelcome news for families struggling to find a solution for ADHD. Sure, they can stop checking labels quite as vigilantly and let their kid eat a fistful of jellybeans now and then (which means the kids themselves will probably welcome the new research), but on the other hand, the no-easy-fix factor is a pretty big drag. I'm sure there are plenty of families who had hoped adjusting their kid's diet would provide the solution for all their woes.
Really, wouldn't we all like to think that? Many of us spend a lot of time focused on our kids' diets in hopes that healthy eating will provide all the answers and guarantee them good health. At least what we feed them is something we can control! And while a healthy diet can of course do a lot, alas, there's much about the world and our kids' health that's out of our control. In a way, this is one of the toughest lessons of parenthood. And one we parents learn -- sometimes the hard way -- again and again and again.
What do you think of the report finding that changing a child's diet is usually not enough to eliminate symptoms of ADHD?
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