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Our Recommended Eating Program for ADHD

Below is a copy of our eating program for Attention Deficit Disorder - ADD ADHD kids. It is not a very strict program, unless you are used to having most meals at your local fast food restaurant. The information on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder presented here from the ADD Information Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the expert and professional advice of your physician, psychologist, or therapist. Always seek help from qualified professionals in the field of attention deficit disorder. Always consult your physician.

This program is recommended for every member of the family. It's not just an ADHD program. It's the same program that we put professional athletes and business executives on for optimized performance, with only minor changes. We have found that it really helps about 25% of the ADHD kids that try it. The most common feedback that we get from parents is, "Well, it helped my kid somewhat, but I really feel great!"

Results fall into a "Bell Curve." A few will do great, a few are completely unaffected, and most do somewhat better - but it is not enough as a stand-alone intervention. Please have realistic expectations. But please try it. It just may be a big help to your family.

First, what NOT to eat for TWO WEEKS:

1) NO DAIRY PRODUCTS, especially cow's milk. This is the single most important restriction. Instead try Almond milk, Rice milk, or Better Than Milk. Drink water instead of milk. In fact, drink lots of water. The brain is about 80% water, and increasing your water intake to 7 to 10 glasses per day might be helpful all by itself. Sodas, Gatorade, teas, icees, etc., do not count as water. Only water counts as water.

2) NO YELLOW FOODS. Especially Corn or Squash. By the way, bananas are white. Just don't eat the peel.

3) NO JUNK FOODS. If it comes in a cellophane wrapper, don't eat it.

4) NO FRUIT JUICES. They have too much sugar content. One small glass of apple juice has the sugar content of eight apples. Later on you can have juice, but even then dilute it with water 50/50.

5) CUT SUGAR INTAKE BY 90%. If you can, cut it down to zero. Sugar is in just about everything, but give it a try. Do your best without going crazy.

6) CUT CHOCOLATE BY 90%. No more than a single piece, once a week.

7) NO NUTRASWEET. None. Period. And while we are at it, no Splenda either. These artificial sweetners just are not made for optimal brain performance.

8) NO PROCESSED MEATS and NO MSG. Only get meats with labels that say, "Turkey and Water," etc. If the meat has chemicals listed that you can't pronounce, don't buy it.

9) CUT FRIED FOODS BY 90%.

10) AVOID FOOD COLORINGS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. See if your child is sensitive to any particular colors, such as Reds, Yellows, etc. For now, though, avoid all if possible.

SUMMARY: Just eat foods that God made for a while. Eat like people did in the 1940's. Watch old Leave It To Beaver re-runs to see how the Cleavers used to eat. Go to a used book store and get a Betty Crocker's Cook Book for recipe ideas. There really are about 10,000 meals that you CAN eat, but not much in the way of "fast foods" or "convenience" foods.

AFTER TWO WEEKS begin adding these foods back into your diet, one food every other day. Eat A LOT of that food every day for four days. If you have a problem with one of the foods, you will see some kind of a "reaction" within four days. The reaction can vary from big red splotches on the body to ears turning bright red to explosive temper outbursts. If there's a problem, you'll know. If there's no problem, enjoy the food.

What TO eat to FEED THE BRAIN:

1) FOR BREAKFAST SERVE HIGHER PROTEIN, LOWER CARBOHYDRATE MEALS. Say, "Good-bye," to Breakfast cereals and milk. Serve 60% Protein and 40% Carbohydrates for breakfast. Other meals should be 50% / 50%.

2) PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS might be needed to get the added protein for breakfast. They are often very helpful in the afternoon as well. Here is our favorite recipe for a Protein Shake:

a) Make a cup of coffee, using one of General Mills' International Coffees, or something like that, with a flavor that you or your child will like (yes, I know I'm breaking my own rules here, as these coffees have dried milk and some sugar, but I'm trying to get your kid to actually drink the thing, and also get some caffeine mixed with the protein.). Pour the hot coffee into a blender with about 6 oz of ice. Turn on the blender for a bit.

b) Add a good quality protein powder. There are many good ones available. If you can't find one that you like, ask at your local health food store. Get protein powders that are mostly protein and very little carbohydrate. Add between 15 and 20 grams of protein to the cold coffee in the blender.

c) Turn on the blender again.

d) Drink it up.

This protein shake is helpful for a lot of people. For many small kids, and many adults, this recipe works about as well as a small dose of Ritalin (100 mg of caffeine is roughly the same as 5 mg of Ritalin). So many who might just take a small dose of Ritalin might get away with just doing this.

Don't forget, though, that even caffeine can have some side effects. Every once in a while we find someone that has problems with the caffeine in the coffee. Usually, though, the caffeine in the coffee helps the person to focus better. The protein helps to feed the brain. If you find this helpful, have one with Breakfast, and one around 3 pm. If it is not helpful, then don't bother with it.

3) MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS may be helpful. Colloidal Minerals or fully chelated minerals are the best. Don't buy minerals in the grocery store. Get good minerals.

4) ATTEND, and EXTRESS from VAXA. We recommend the "Attend" product for everyone. The "Extress" is recommended in addition to the Attend for those with problems with hyperactivity and temper. These are strongly recommended.

5) FLAX SEED or PRIMROSE OIL. These are high sources of Omega oils which are very important, especially for those with Attention Deficit Disorder. Borage oils and some fish oils are good sources of Omega Oils as well. Mix about a spoonful a day of flax seed oil into foods as you prepare them, or add to salad dressings, etc. Or you can buy supplements.

6) EAT LOTS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Eat in a healthy manner.

7) Avoid Aluminum exposure whenever possible.

Try it out and let us know what you think. Oh, before you email back and ask, "Well, what can we eat?" please look through your Betty Crocker Cook Book and you'll find hundreds of recipes that will fit. It's the convenience foods that are most of the problem. Re-discover the lost art of cooking!

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

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