Natural Solutions for ADHD You Can Do Yourself

by Janice Carlin, PhD, CHHP, CHNP, CNHP

Copyright © 2018 Janice Carlin

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If you have a child who is experiencing difficulties in living his or her life to the fullest capacity due to symptoms of ADHD, you can help him/her the most by becoming empowered and taking action.

There are many substances and stimuli that can contribute to ADHD symptoms and make them worse. Before believing that there is nothing that can be done except to take medications, make sure that you are consistently doing the following things. And consistently means 100%, no cheating.

Any child with ADHD symptoms will benefit from eliminating everything on the following list. Even if you do not readily notice changes, trust that you are on the right track. Hyperactivity is fueled by sugars, which take the form of carbohydrates in processed grains, sugars, and fruits, and artificial additives and preservatives added to foods and drinks. Chemicals in the diet add to the problems. If you do nothing else, get these foods and substances out of your child’s diet ASAP and keep them out.
 

THE ELIMINATION LIST:

Gluten containing grains – Including wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and oats that are not certified gluten free. Avoid products labeled “gluten free” that include corn, tapioca, or other unhealthy starches. All of these spike blood glucose levels. Grains are also inflammatory substances to the body. Gluten crosses the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain in a similar way to opiates. It is addictive and affects emotions and behaviors as well as overall health to sensitive individuals.

Sugar – Including processed sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, agave nectar, honey, cane sugar and evaporated cane sugar. Spiking the blood glucose will result in hyperactivity, focus issues, and impulse control issues for these children.

Synthetic food additives and preservatives, including artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners have been proven to cause hyperactivity behaviors in children. You have to read food and drink labels in order to avoid them.

Casein from dairy – Many kids with ADHD are sensitive to the casein that is in dairy. Many people are aware of lactose intolerance that can cause digestive issues, but remain unaware that casein-sensitive people can have reactions that are behavioral and emotional. The lactose in milk also raises blood sugar.

Processed grains and sweet fruit - Fruit contains fructose, which is sugar. These fruits are highest in carbohydrates: Bananas, grapes, mango, pears, apples, pineapple, cherries. Processed grains that do not contain gluten include rice, millet, and amaranth. If your child can tolerate brown rice without having any adverse behavioral or health reactions, then this can be a sometimes food.

Corn is very high in carbohydrates and is definitely on the elimination list.
 
Other things besides food that will affect your child’s brain and contribute to ADHD symptoms:


Video games
Visually stimulating CGI movies and on computer screens
Sustained, loud music
Chaotic noise
 


THE ADDITION LIST:

Bake breads, crackers, cookies, and muffins with almond flour or coconut flour. It’s very, very simple and there are recipes all over the Internet. You will find them when you search for “grain free” or “paleo” recipes.

Sweeteners that will not affect blood sugar include stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol. Watch out for additives in products that act as fillers and will affect blood sugar. Go for the pure product. You can always substitute these zero glycemic sweeteners for sugar, agave and honey that recipes call for.

You can make your own milk out of almonds or cashews. Avoid rice milk and any of the milks that have sweeteners and additives.

Lower sugar fruits, including berries, oranges, lemons and limes.

For activities, try reading, puzzles (not on screens), coloring, drawing, building models, and making music.

Be sure to include plenty of healthy physical activities. Be wary of sports that commonly cause concussions, which will cause brain damage, including soccer and football.
 
These are the basics to get you started and they are essential to always maintain as long as any symptoms are present. You may find that even if all of your symptoms are not alleviated by doing the above, your need for medication may be gone, or you may be able to cut back on the dosages.


 
Why Can’t You Cheat Sometimes?

Remember that ADHD has to do with issues with brain functioning. Each and every time your child's brain is exposed to elements that it cannot process correctly, your child is not only being harmed, but his or her condition is being worsened. The brain is not going to heal as long as it continues to be exposed to conditions that harm it. Set up your child's life so that he or she has a chance to thrive.


 
What About Special Occasions and Holidays?

Make your holidays a true celebration of life by honoring yourself and your children in all ways possible. There are plenty of treats that you can make that do not use items from the Eliminate List. There are plenty of fun experiences that you can have with them that do not include things on the Eliminate List. Tell your child's teacher to give you a head's up about when the class will be having treats so that you can send something special for your child to enjoy.

When you look for recipes, search for Low Carb, Paleo, or Keto cookies, cakes, pies, or whatever you want to make. Remember, you can make substitutions to meet your child's needs. Here are some common ones from low carb or Keto recipes:

Butter: Use organic ghee or coconut oil
Eggs: Use chia or flax seeds - mix a spoonful with enough water to form a gel. It takes few minutes to turn into an eggy consistency. Add more water or seeds as needed. One spoonful of seeds equals about one egg.

Your child may not be able to tolerate eating chocolate without feeling some effects, but if you take out the milk and sugar, they may be all right eating it occasionally. Try Lily’s Chocolate Chips. Or you can try using carob instead of cocoa when baking.
 
Review:

Your child with ADHD needs to be on a low carbohydrate or Paleo diet that includes quality healthy fats, protein and non-starchy vegetables. If your child eats something that is only a carbohydrate, be sure to include a healthy fat and/or protein at the same time.

Keep chemicals out of your child’s diet. Synthetic additives and preservatives, along with sugar can result in full blown hyperactive behavior.

Keep sugar out of the diet.

Keep gluten, processed grains, and corn out of the diet.

 
Please trust me, it is completely possible to feed your child this way. My son struggled so much before I committed to being consistent with his food. As a teenager now, I continually explain to his teachers and grandparents that the food he eats (and doesn’t eat) is his medicine. He is calm and healthy and happy because he keeps the elements of his life that would adversely affect him, and he does it 100 percent of the time. You can read his story HERE.

Be patient with yourself and remember that it takes time to learn how to cook and bake in a different way. Each year, I make my son a new dessert for his birthday celebration. This year he turned 16 and told me that his cake was the best thing I have ever made, so I'm sharing the recipe with you:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake - Grain free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free
(Recipe inspired by Ashley at My Heart Beets)

Cake Ingredients
1 cup sugar and salt free organic peanut butter
1/2 cup Lankanto sweetener
4 droppers of vanilla liquid stevia
6 organic, pastured eggs
3/4 tsp baking soda
Sprinkle of salt
1/2 package of Lily's Chocolate Chips

Frosting Ingredients
Rest of the package of Lily's Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup of Lankanto sweetener - if you want the frosting to be less granular, you can use a non-glycemic sweetener that is powdered. My son said that the "crystally texture" was his favorite part!
2/3 cup of peanut butter (I just used the rest of the jar)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Mix cake ingredients (minus chocolate chips) together in a bowl until smooth.
Gently mix in the chocolate chips
You can grease the pans or use chlorine free parchment paper
Place into a prepared baking dish or two 6 inch cake pans
Bake for about 30 minutes until fork comes out dry (minus the melted chocolate)

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Melt peanut butter, sweetener and chocolate chips in a small pot or pan using double boiler method. Mix until completely melted.
Spread over the cake. If you've baked two cakes, you can put the frosting in between them, too.
Bonus: Any leftover frosting can be placed into the freezer to eat later. It tastes like Reece's peanut butter cups!