If your child has Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the temptation might be to just put them on medication the way so many other parents do. But before you start filling prescriptions for Ritalin, why not take a more natural approach and examine your child’s diet?

Diet and ADHD
We are what we eat, so it should come as no surprise that diet can determine behavior in a number of ways. It can either cause ‘bad’ behavior because the child does not feel well, or ‘bad’ behavior and acting out because something they eat or drink is overly stimulating.

Common sense will often be your guide, but if you don’t cook from scratch, you most probably have no idea exactly what your child is eating that could be triggering their symptoms. Here are several of the top culprits to watch out for.

Ever see children at a birthday party? That is what a sugar rush looks like. Too much sugar raises the blood sugar and makes a person act ‘wired’, as if they are run by a motor. After around 30 minutes, the sugar high wears off, leaving them cranky, irritable and craving more of a sugar fix. Cut back on juice boxes, soda of all forms, even diet. Serve your child plenty of water with just a splash of 100% real fruit juice if they really won’t drink plain water.

Foods high in carbohydrates
Sugar is a simple carbohydrates. Bread and items made with wheat, white rice, white potatoes and other starchy vegetables are all complex carbohydrates. They may take longer to digest than candy, but the effect is the same: a boost in blood sugar than can have your child bouncing off the walls.

Limit mashed potatoes, pasta and white rice. Substitute sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and brown rice, but in small quantities. Focus on high-quality protein and plenty of vegetables. Turn their daily allowance of fruit into a healthy dessert such as baked apple or frozen banana ‘ice cream’-freeze the banana slices, chop finely, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until they become creamy.

Chocolate has sugar and caffeine in it. Serve only dark chocolate, such as 70% or higher, in limited amounts.

Energy drinks
Energy drinks have taken the place of coffee and tea for the younger generation. Drinks like Red Bull and Monster can have the caffeine equivalent of 5 cups of coffee in them, so make sure your child steers clear.

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