I can’t begin to imagine how ADHD can affect a child’s behaviour and the family dynamic. With a child of my own on the way, it’s an issue that I am taking a strong interest in. After a few interactions with parents of kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD, I’m very interested in exploring natural remedies to manage ADHD. Doctors may prescribe medication such as Ritalin which will manually calm your child down. As with most conditions, exploring natural solutions should be the first step for you to explore.
Understanding The Causes of ADHD
If you have a child with ADHD you probably understand the causes of ADHD better than I do. However, I think in order to find a solution you must understand and then mitigate the potential triggers to ADHD.
1. Excess Sugar & Carbohydrate Consumption
Children have a higher tolerance for sugar & carbohydrates than their parents. That’s due to the fact that they are growing and their cells can make good use of the fast burning fuel source. However, just like adults, children can only store so much carbohydrates (remember, all carbohydrates are eventually broken down into sugar).
If a child’s diet contributes to a large spike in their blood sugar, it can cause restlessness and the desire to just get their energy out. If they are then asked to sit still in the classroom, they will find it difficult which can result in a lack of focus and nervous energy.
How to know if your child is having too much sugar or carbohydrates?
- They have trouble sleeping through the night.
- Breakfast consists of only cereal, bread, juice etc
- They LOVE sweets & candy (all kids do but if they really go all out for sugar it’s a good sign as sugar can cause addictive tendencies).
- Their energy crashes after a few hours without food.
2. Their diet lacks Omega-3.
Research (1,2,3) has shown that a lack of dietary omega-3 can be linked with ADHD in children. Omega-3 are essential fatty acids (the body cannot produce them on it’s own and requires them to be consumed through the diet).
Omega-3 is most commonly found in seafood, nuts and green leaves/vegetables.
3. They are lacking attention at home.
That’s not a comfortable thing to say to a parent and I’m sorry. But when your child’s wellbeing is your priority you should be willing to explore every avenue. Life is busy, you have to work to provide a great life for your kids. My parents migrated to Australia when I was 4 and proceeded to work their butts off learning English, working odd jobs and studying (again!) full time to provide a great life for my brother and I.
If you’re like my parents and are away for prolonged periods of the day, ensure that you create an environment where your child knows they have access to you if they have any issues with their teachers, school or anything else. Ask them plenty of questions and make sure to give them the opportunity to be heard. Of course, when you do have time with them, give them your full attention. This will help eliminate any attention seeking behaviour that can be disruptive while they’re under the care of someone else (like when they’re at school).
4. Something is wrong at school.
Some of the kids at school are so young (5 years old) that they’re not able to communicate frustrations they have at school. They might be frustrated by their teacher, the subject matter or some of their classmates. If you are receiving complaints about their lack of focus & attention while at school or disruptive behaviour, you should ask the child if they are having any problems at school. Prompt them to discuss their teacher and classmates. You can also ask the teacher when they are disruptive and look for patterns such as after recess/lunch (they just want to play!!) or during a certain subject or activity. That can reveal some clues as to what triggers poor attitude and the problems might lie in external factors rather than your child.
What tactics should you try first?
1. Reach out to their teacher
Let the teacher know that you’re going to be trying a few different tactics to help improve your child’s attention, focus and behaviour.
Let them know that you’d like their feedback on if they notice any changes.
2. Improve Breakfast
Breakfast is vital. It kick starts the whole day and putting the focus on breakfast can lead to the biggest (and quickest) tangible result. If your child’s ADHD can benefit from improved nutrition, breakfast is a great place to start and see if there’s any improvement.
Try and reduce carbohydrates and sugars from breakfast. Instead try to incorporate variations of :
- Eggs (omelettes are a great option for children)
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans etc)
- Chia Seeds (great in shakes/smoothies)
3. Increase Regular Exercise
Exercise helps to reduce blood sugar by forcing muscles to absorb more sugar from the blood. Exercise also has many proven benefits for brain development & heart health. Getting your child to exercise at a young age is one of the best habits to help them create.
Exercises can be made fun by creating games out of different exercises. We can help you by providing a fun exercise program for you to follow with your kids. A children’s specialist Exercise Physiologist can also help provide fun and safe exercises for your child.
Another option is to increase their participation in sport to provide an outlet for your child to expend their energy and socialise with other children.
As a parent it’s important for you to do your due diligence in order to best take care of your child’s wellbeing. ADHD can be a tricky condition to treat as there are so many variables. You need to know that there are natural options available to you that you can easily try from today and see if they can improve your child’s attention, focus and attitude before you resort to drugs like Ritalin. We are here to help and support you along the way, should you need anything.
(1) Richardson, A. (2006). Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. International Review Of Psychiatry, 18(2), 155-172. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540260600583031
(2) Howard, A., Robinson, M., Smith, G., Ambrosini, G., Piek, J., & Oddy, W. (2010). ADHD Is Associated With a “Western” Dietary Pattern in Adolescents. Journal Of Attention Disorders, 15(5), 403-411. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1087054710365990
My name is Hany and I’m the Clinic Director here at Activate Clinic.
My Wife, Stephanie, and I have been building Activate Clinic together in an attempt to help as many people as possible take control of their health. We believe that everyone is unique has the power to optimise their own health.
Give me the honour of coaching you through this wonderful adventure towards great health.