ADHD Cognitive Diet Foods I Love!
I personally deal with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ADHD, and I've discovered certain foods that have positively impacted my cognition and overall management of gut bacteria. It's important to note that these are specific to my needs and may not be suitable for everyone.
Norepinephrine is the main deficiency for ADHD and it is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in various functions in the body, including mood regulation, attention, and stress response. While there isn't a specific diet to directly address norepinephrine deficiency innately, those with ADHD could benefit from adopting a balanced diet that supports overall brain health and neurotransmitter production.
I hope sharing my experiences can provide you with inspiration and potentially spark new ideas for your own wellness journey.
While I am not gluten-intolerant, I opt for a diet as low in gluten as I can as my digestive system simply works better that way. I am happier on a low to no gluten diet and while I do have whole wheat pasta in moderation, my carb sources are not gluten-filled and I like that better as I do not have a high tolerance for un-necessary gut issues.
If we enhance our gut microbiome and liver, the brain functions better. Sadly, we don't have a high margin of error when it comes to sleep, nutrition, and fitness... we cannot just be winging it and eating whatever whenever.
Macronutrient breakdowns will vary person to person, but my protein ratio is bodyweight x 1.7 to find out how many grams I need per day (if I am less active than usual, I drop it to 1.6) my carbs are relatively low, and my fats are moderate. Overall, I range between 154-201 grams of protein per day. My meals are built around it.
MyFitnessPal does the math for me though for the rest (carbs / fat), which is very cool.
Why I track? ADHD can mess with hunger cues whether meds are involved or not... so I cannot "intuitively eat", I do track calories to ensure I eat enough so I don't become a little piranha shark.
Neurotypical people have "automatic" brain focus functions... ADHD people have "manual" or non-existent (at times) brain focus functions so it makes sense that we spend more time on revving up the engine and programming it properly, nutrition is part of it.
I do have ADHD specific workouts I do when it gets really bad which I plan to share soon.
My go to staples in no particular order because don't expect that from me always lol...
• Bananas (for oatmeal, smoothies, or on its own to absorb stomach acid)
• Cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds (in moderation, salted tastes better but the bland ones work too if adding it to other things - love these in yogurt bowls)
• Peanut butter (in moderation)
• Olive oil (for cooking or salad dressing with balsamic or lemon)
• Ground black chia seeds (I do not like whole ones, they get stuck in my teeth and the whole ones also look like insects)
• Lean red meat (it does not cause inflammation for me personally and I eat massive amounts of protein so this works) - great for sauces, meatballs, burger patties, stir fry's
• Chicken breast (classic for oven baked or slow cooker)
• Sliced real cheddar cheese for added protein (hard cheese works for me, melted not so much except aged cheeses like parmesan and pecorino)
• Sweet potatoes
• Regular potatoes
• Nature's Valley Maple Oatmeal and Granola (Coconut Cashew)
• Spinach to be snuck into sauces and stir fry's
• Avocado in small doses
• Dragon Fruit smoothie bags
• Apples and limes to preserve them after slicing
• Cooked carrots
• Cooked green beans
• Cooked broccoli
• Cooked kale for adding meat sauces
• Light cream for coffee (dairy in small doses is fine for me)
• High protein Siggi's, Liberte, or Oikos Greek Yogurt (also fine for my IBS)
• Halo Top ice cream for sanity, but it's a high protein cheat meal nonetheless
• Whole wheat pasta (on occasion)
• Popcorn for when my stomach has high acidity
• Kombucha once my meds have worn off and on a full stomach (be careful with this though and try small amounts first)
• Matcha (I feel like it's a stimulant with less agitation)
• Protein powder to hit my protein macro goals
I have eliminated:
• All trans fats
• All fast food as in chains, yes I am that extreme, my cheat meals come from real food based cheats like a burger at a steakhouse rather than a junk factory- I have enough health issues and I cannot afford to get off track as it harms my body more easily
• Pure simple carbs (I do not eat carbs without a protein attached unless it's a complex carb like a banana or a semi-healthy snack like popcorn)
ADHD specific supplements I like:
• Omega 3 fish oils (the full dose indicated on the bottle)
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential fats found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. These fatty acids are vital for brain development and function. Research shows that individuals with ADHD may have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared to non-ADHD people.
I meal prep and store components (protein, veggies, carbs) separately and I season / assemble the day of.
It is totally fine to store things in glass containers or BPA-free plastic ones (whatever works) and reheat them on the same day fully composed if you don't want to separate out the components and assemble them on the same day or if that's not practical for your lifestyle.
For sports performance, I have noticed for myself especially, that it is best to stick with fruit that is lower in fructose...
A bit more info on fructose...
Fruits that are relatively low in fructose in general include:
1. Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are lower in fructose compared to many other fruits.
2. Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits tend to have lower fructose content.
3. Avocado: While technically a fruit, avocados are low in fructose and high in healthy fats.
4. Kiwi: Kiwi fruits have a relatively low fructose content and a lot of insoluble fibre.
Fruits are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and other beneficial compounds, so they can still be part of a healthy diet.
Fructose is more easily stored as fat (unlike complex carbs which are used as energy more readily) so it is best to eat higher fructose fruit before a workout or just be careful in general.
If the liver glycogen stores are full or if there is excessive fructose consumption, the liver will convert the fructose into fatty acids, which can contribute to fat accumulation.
Not all fruit is "processed" by our bodies the same way is the only reason I shared that mini-essay on fructose, back to the main program.
Overall, nutrition is a key to my ADHD strategy, alongside meds and exercise / sleep.
The gut-brain connection cannot be denied.
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