This article was originally published in Natural Awakenings, as a sidebar to an article on ADHD.
Along with gluten and dairy, peanuts and soy are common culprits. One clue is that if it’s a food your child craves, and it makes up an unusually high proportion of her diet, there’s high likelihood it’s a sensitivity and should be eliminated. Expect some outbursts and complaints, but don’t give in. Remember: you are the parent, and it is your responsibility not only to do what’s best for your child, but to teach her what’s healthy.
While you’re making nutritional changes, make sure your child gets enough protein, especially in the morning. Breakfast foods like bagels, cereal, french toast, or cereal bars may go down easy, but they are simply refined, processed carbohydrates that raise and drop blood sugar quickly, leaving your child without the sustained fuel he needs to focus. And of course, these foods are high in allergens, as well. Eggs are a great breakfast choice. Try a breakfast wrap with eggs, a non-dairy non-casein cheese like Daiya, salsa or ketchup, in a brown rice tortilla. Or many kids enjoy having a protein shake for breakfast. It can be delicious! Use coconut milk for its healthy, brain-supportive fats, berries (they have so many health benefits!) and other fruits, with a non-dairy protein powder like pea, rice, or hemp protein.
Assess Zinc Levels
Is your ADHD child a fussy eater? It may be because he is low in zinc, which effects the palate as well as the neurological system. It is easy to check by doing a zinc challenge: have him swish a small amount of liquid zinc supplement in his mouth. No taste indicates extremely low zinc levels; a slight taste indicates low levels, and a strong metallic taste indicates adequate levels. If low, supplement zinc for a few weeks, then re-test.
Lead, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals are neurotoxins that have been associated with ADHD. Even low level exposure can have an effect. Sources include amalgam dental fillings, fish, paint, pipes, pesticides, household and industrial chemicals, and even air pollution. Natural supplements that can help bind and remove heavy metals include chlorella and modified citrus pectin. Detoxification should be an integral part of any ADHD protocol.