ADHD Meal Planning

When you have ADHD, meal planning can be a logistical nightmare! This is because it involves all the things that can be difficult when you have ADHD; like making decisions, paying attention to details and forward planning. However, meal planning is a skill worth developing. Because when you eat healthy, ADHD-friendly food, your unwanted ADHD symptoms can be minimized or even disappear.

“When I changed the way I ate (as Jacqui recommended), a lot of the things I thought were due to ADHD just disappeared.”
– Mark Kawate
www.appsforadhd.com

So watch this video about how plan your meals when you have ADHD.

mealplanning 228x300ADHD Meal Planning

The ADHD diet is something I go into much more detail in the Untapped Brilliance Course. Want to learn more?

Yes! I want to learn about The Untapped Brilliance Coaching Course!

 

ADHD-Friendly Recipes

2 7ADHD Friendly RecipesMeal planning and cooking can be a logistical nightmare when you have ADHD. Making decisions, advanced planning, follow through and multi-step processes are all skills that are needed to plan, shop for and prepare meals; yet they are challenging when you have ADHD. This means ADDers often eat out, or order in.

However, when you cook at home, you can be guaranteed that the food is healthy and that no one has sneaked in fat, salt or sugar to make the dish taste better. Plus when you eat whole and healthy foods, your ADHD symptoms get easier to manage.

One website that takes the pain out of ADHD meal planning is http://www.elanaspantry.com.
Elena doesn’t have ADHD, but she does have a few health issues such as MS and celiac disease. These health challenges promoted her to create healthy, simple and easy recipes that don’t compromise on taste, flavour or style.

What makes these recipes ADHD-friendly?

Straightforward
All the recipes are simple and easy to make!! YAY! And not in a condescending way. Elena doesn’t make a big deal out of it…they just are.

Use Few Ingredients
Elena uses as few ingredients as possible. I don’t know about you, but if I just look at some of Martha Stewart’s list of ingredients, I get overwhelmed. This doesn’t happen at Elena’s pantry. If anything, you are wondering how something so seemingly basic on paper, tastes so good.

Gluten-free
All the recipes on the site are gluten free. In the 10 years of being an ADHD Coach, I know that going gluten-free is one of the most effective things you can do to help your ADHD. That doesn’t mean to say it’s the easiest thing, but it is worth the effort.

Refined Sugar-free
All the main dishes on the site are sugar-free. However, if you feel like baking and have a sweet tooth, Elena uses alternatives to refined sugar; which is much better for the ADHD brain (than refined sugar).

Dairy-free
Another great bonus if you have ADHD.

Here are some of my favourite recipes on the site:

Chicken dishes
I make both of these several times a month and always feel like a very clever cook. icon smileADHD Friendly Recipes
http://www.elanaspantry.com/chicken-with-cauliflower-and-olives/
http://www.elanaspantry.com/rosemary-lemon-chicken/

Salmon
I don’t want to keep saying it’s so easy to make, but it’s true! And it’s also a great way to get some omega 3.
http://www.elanaspantry.com/sesame-salmon-burgers/

Salad
I became totally addicted to this salad last summer. It’s soooooo good. Even non-salad people love it.
http://www.elanaspantry.com/arugula-cucumber-salad-lemon-dressing/

Dessert
Whenever I go to friends’ and they ask me to make dessert, I take this. It’s so easy (but I don’t mention that!), and everyone is always impressed. Even though it’s called, Christmas Chocolate bark, I make it year round.
http://www.elanaspantry.com/christmas-chocolate-bark/

This week, check out http://www.elanaspantry.com for yourself.

 

What are your favorite ADHD Friendly recipes? let me know in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADHD and Sugar Addicts!

dessertsADHD and Sugar Addicts!Do you think you might be a sugar addict? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!! It is easy to become addicted to sugar as it’s readily available, cheap and hidden in the most unlikely foods.

Like everyone, ADHDers love sugar… but it’s extra enticing for you because when you eat sugar, you get a shot of Dopamine! Because the ADD brain is lower in dopamine than non-ADD brains, it is always on the lookout for ways to increase dopamine.

Compared to caffeine, smoking cigarettes, street drugs and over-spending, sugar seems like a pretty harmless way to get dopamine. However, it can still take its toll on your body.

Here are a few ways it can affect you in relation to your ADHD:

– Mood swings
PMS
– Fatigue
Depression, anxiety
– Insomnia
– Irritability
Anger
– Distractibility

Dopamine makes you feel happy, and because it feels good to feel happy, you reach for more and more sugar. Unfortunately, sugar also depletes your nutrient stores; which is another reason you keep reaching for the sweet stuff.

For your body to metabolize sugar and convert it to energy, it uses micro nutrients like B vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Because sugar doesn’t contain vitamins and minerals itself, it has to use your stores. This leaves you feeling tired and lethargic and because of the lack of nutrients, your body doesn’t feel nourished, so you reach of more food. If you are a sugar addict, that food will probably be sugar!

There are a few ways to give up sugar:

1) Slowly reduce your sugar intake until it isn’t part of your diet.

2) Go cold turkey. This can be painful because you feel withdrawals such as low mood and energy.

3) Follow a sugar detox program such as ‘The 21 Day Sugar Detox’ by Diane Sanfilippo. This book is full of healthy super tasty ADHD friendly recipes. I highly recommend it!

Not only will you have greater mental clarity and reduction from the other ADHD symptoms, you will have more energy and zest for life and lose weight. It might be hard to quit sugar, but there is a huge pay off. Good Luck!

How to Treat ADHD

ADHD can’t be cured, but it can be successfully managed. You can take charge of managing your ADHD using this multi-prong process (which sounds more complex than it actually is)! The 4 prongs are:
puzzle2How to Treat ADHD
– Medical treatment
– Natural treatment
– Life Skills
– Psychological well-being

Medical treatment

This could mean ADHD meds; if they are something you have chosen to take. It also means treating other conditions that you might have; from thyroid problems, depression to sleeping disorders. Not only does this help you live a long and healthy life, it also helps your ADHD. Even conditions that seem completely unrelated, can negatively affect your ADHD.

Natural treatment

Treating your ADHD naturally includes all the Untapped Brilliance steps, such as taking an Omega 3 supplement, eat a healthy ADHD diet, meditation, daily exercise and getting a good night’s sleep. These all help reduce the negative effects of ADHD by increasing dopamine levels in your brain.

Life Skills

You have heard the phrase ‘Pills don’t teach skills’. No matter how successfully you are implementing the first 2 prongs, now it’s time to develop life skills such as time management and organizing skills. When learning these skills, take baby steps; you can’t change a lifetime of habits overnight.
Traditional strategies to these problems don’t always work for ADHDers, so don’t feel bad if advice from well-meaning Non-ADDers don’t work. Instead, notice what works for you and continue to do that.

Psychological well-being

This is paramount to success. For example, self-esteem is often lower in people with ADHD than their non-ADHD peers, through years of trying to conform to a world whose brains work differently to yours. When you are in a good head space, it’s easier to implement the actions involved in the other prongs. There is no shame in reaching out for help from a good psychologist.

When managing your ADHD using these prongs, you will look and feel better than you have done in years!

The ADHD Breakfast

photo 10The ADHD BreakfastI know you have heard of it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when you have ADHD. It’s vital that the first meal of the day has some good quality protein in it as that is the best fuel available for your ADHD brain to be able to function at its best all day long.

It’s easier to implement advice when know the reasons behind it, particular if it’s advice that you have heard of a million times. So here is what happens behind the scenes.

To protect our brains from bacterial infections and other nasties, there is a barrier called the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is very strict in what it allows to pass from the cells of the rest of our bodies into the brain area. It’s like the VIP area in a club.

When you eat protein, it is turned into amino acids and that, in turn, is made into neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain that allow you to focus and concentrate, feel sleepy or be motivated.

Amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine use the same pathway to cross the blood-brain barrier; but there is a ‘first-come, first-served’ rule because they can’t both use the pathway at the same time.

A high-carb meal increases the tryptophan levels and so, serotonin is produced. The result is, you feel sleepy; so eating this type of meal is good in the evenings. In contrast, a meal with protein increases tyrosine levels, so norepinephrine and dopamine are produced. Consequently, you feel alert, energized and ready to focus; so this type of meal is good in the morning.

The reason why breakfast in particular is so good is that we have been fasting for 8 or so hours, and our brain hasn’t received any nutrients during that time. So it’s particularly responsive to that first meal.

If you don’t like typical breakfast foods: eggs, protein powder, etc., make a mental shift and see it as a meal with no rules. This gives you permission to eat any healthy protein, such as chicken left-overs or a tin of tuna…

If you don’t usually have time to eat breakfast, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. You will have a more productive day by eating breakfast than having those 15 minutes to sleep.

Experiment with your breakfasts and find which foods allow you to function best.

What’s your favorite breakfast? leave a note for me in the comments section!

 

 

PS. The photo with this article is one of my favorite protein-rich breakfasts: Scrambled eggs with a little bacon and a lot of mushrooms, red peppers and tomatoes.

 

 

Why is Omega 3 so important when you have ADHD?

omega3Why is Omega 3 so important when you have ADHD?We hear lots about information about various fats, Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated, Trans fatty acid and Saturated fats. However, as your ADHD Coach the fact that I am most interested in is Essential Fatty Acids. Aptly named ‘essential’ as they are vital for your health. Yet, despite being so important our bodies cannot produce this fat, so we need to make a conscious effort to consume it.

The main categories of essential fats are Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Omega 3

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are all members of the group of fatty acids known as Omega 3.

DHA is found in cold water fish.
EPA, also found in fish, however the fish don’t produce it, instead they get it from eating algae.
ALA is found mainly in seed oils like flaxseed. We then convert in our bodies to DHA and EPA.

Why is Omega 3 so important when you have ADHD?
Studies show that DHA and EPA are very helpful as they improve attention, learning, memory and behavioral problems connected with ADHD as well as helping with co-morbidities such as anxiety, aggression and depression.

Omega 6

If you are eating a typical western diet you don’t need to worry about getting enough Omega 6. You will be getting lots in the form rapeseed soybean and sunflower seed oil.  The ratio between the Omega 6 and Omega 3 you consume is vital in order to experience the benefits for your adult ADHD.  100 years ago the ratio between the 2 fats in the average person’s diet were 1:1, now our average ratio is around 20:1, weighed towards Omega 6.

How do you get Omega 3 into your diet?

Include cold water fish in your diet, e.g. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout
Walnuts
Flaxseed
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale

Even if you are eating a diet rich in Omega, it’s still important to take an Omega 3 supplement that includes both DHA and EPA, I recommend Dr. Barry Sear’s brand http://www.zonediet.com/omega-3-fish-oil.

ADHD and Weight Gain

old scalesADHD and Weight GainDid you know that people with ADHD gain weight more easily than the rest of the population? And that it is harder for you to lose weight?

The connection with ADHD and weight makes sense when we remember that ADHD effects the executive functioning of the brain. The executive function effects self regulation, planning, organizing, prioritizing and awareness of the future. In relation to your eating habits this effects what you eat, where eat and how much you eat.

Reasons for weight gain when you have ADHD:

Studies found that adults with ADHD are more likely to be overweight or obese than the rest of the population reasons for this include…

Inattention:

  • Not being aware of how much you are eating due to inattention, e.g. watching TV and without realizing you eat the whole pack of cookies.

Self medicating with food:

  • Eating carbohydrates increases dopamine, (which is low in the brains of ADHDers) and in turn (briefly) helps depression and reduces anxiety

Planning:

If organizing and planning is hard for you, you are less likely to plan meals. When you realize you are starving, healthy food is less appealing and it takes longer to prepare than fast food.

Reasons why it’s harder to lose weight when you have ADHD:

  • Low tolerance for diets
  • ADDers get bored and frustrated with diets quickly.
  • Self care is challenging
  • Grocery shopping, meal preparation, eating regularly, getting enough sleep and doing daily exercise can seem overwhelming and difficult.
  • Track record

If you have tried to lose weight many times in the past, your hope and excitement has faded about weight loss. It is easier not to try than face disappointment again.

Actions:

1) Since studies found untreated ADHD lead to bigger numbers on the scales, it is important to treat and manage your ADHD. Visit your doctor and start implementing the actions I talk about in Untapped Brilliance.

2) Get moving, exercise for 30 minutes every day. Not only does exercise increase the number of calories you burn, you also crave healthier food and water as a result.

3) Mindfulness. When you eat mindfully you are noticing the taste of your food and when you feel full. Sit at a table and use cutlery. Don’t sit in front on the TV, Ever!

4) Do Eat, whole foods. It’s harder to over indulge in whole foods than processed foods, because you will feel full and satisfied. These include lean meats, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

5) Don’t Eat, Sugar, or white foods e.g. white bread. It’s hard to stop eating these foods once you start.Avoid foods with no nutritional value, like fizzy drinks.

6) Hate meal planning? Then check this website out: http://www.soscuisine.com This website gives you weekly menu plans and simple recipe ideas every week.

Sugar and ADHD

One urban myth that has been successfully ruled out is that sugar doesn’t cause ADHD.

candySugar and ADHDHowever, sugar does effect how your brain functions.  Since ADHD is neurological in nature, it’s interesting how to see how sugar affects our brain.

When you eat carbohydrates your body turns them into glucose (a type of sugar) and your organs (including your brain) and muscles use it for energy. Since, the neurons in the brain can’t store glucose they need a steady supply of it.  Spikes in the glucose supply to the brain are bad news as they result in hyperactivity and sugar crashes.

As with fats there is good and there is bad sugar.

The bad sugar is the refined sugar in cookies, candy and soda.  When you consume refined sugar, the affect is immediate your brain gets flooded with glucose and serotonin is released.  Serotonin makes you feel happy.  Because of large increase in blood sugar the pancreas produces large amounts of insulin, to absorb the sugar.  This is when you feel the ‘crash’.  You feel tired (more so than before you ate the sugar) and cannot focus.

When you eat too much sugar over time you can have problems with processing information, memory, depression and anxiety.  All of which many ADHD adults are prone to have problems with.

Good sugar comes from of fruit and complex carbohydrates.  Because fruit also has fiber its sugar is released at a steady speed while being digested.  Complex carbohydrates are also broken down into sugar. They take longer to progress and give energy for many hours.

For some reason we think of sugar as being harmless; yet there is nothing harmless about the ailments it causes.

As well the obvious ones such as Diabetes and obesity and tooth decay there are also things that ADHD adults are already susceptible to, such as:

I have to admit I am a former sugar addict!  I would eat little pieces of chocolate all day.  It was a great way for me to have energy without the hassle of meal planning.  However, I noticed my brain was really foggy and thinking took lots of effort.  One month ago I stopped eating processed sugar.  No more chocolate, no more deserts.  The first few days were hard because I had to break the habit and the times I would normally enjoy a chunk of chocolate, I needed to remind myself I didn’t eat chocolate anymore.

After the first few days my energy became low and I felt very sad. A quick Google search told me this was normal sugar withdrawal symptoms.  Now those have passed I feel amazing, both mentally and physically very strong.

When you eat a healthy diet that gives your body the chance to have a stable blood sugar throughout the day you will have increased mental focus and attention, and balanced moods.

How to get the sugar out of your diet:

1) Start with the obvious culprits. Chocolate, cakes, sugar in your coffee etc.  Later on in your sugar elimination process you can cut out the hidden stuff.

2) Go Brown
Change all the white products in your cupboards to brown, for example bread, pasta, rice.

3) Eat regularly
Never go too long without food. This keeps your blood sugar in your brain stable.

4) Withdrawals
If you notice some withdrawal symptoms like me, try to stick it out. They aren’t pleasant, but the grass is greener on the other side! (also constant a doctor if you are worried)

5) Notice the benefits.
In fact, don’t just notice them, enjoy them!!

ADHD Goals for the New Year

 

When we think of the New Year we automatically think about New Year Resolutions. However resolutions are usually a highly ineffective way to achieve what we would like in our life.

For example, if your new years resolution is to lose weight, or get fit, you will likely to do really well for the first few days or even a few weeks, eating an extreme diet or going to the gym every day. But then the resolution way of life becomes hard and boring and its more comfortable to revert back to old ways.  New Years Resolutions are based on pure will power, and without a compelling goal, or big enough why,  Resolutions will not be sustainable.

2012ADHD Goals for the New YearHowever the New Year IS a great time to set goals. I have just read an inspiring book called ‘Taming Tigers, Do things you never thought you could do’ . The author Jim Lawless tells of how he achieved his goal of riding his first televised horse-race in the space of one year.  Before he set this goal for himself he had only been pony trekking twice!  In order to achieve this ambitious goal he had to get up every day at 5am to train, continue his day job, lose 1/4 of his body weight (jockeys are very light), move houses to be near the training ground, and give up alcohol (which can’t have been easy for someone that hadn’t gone to bed sober for 17 years).

It would have be extremely hard to do these things if Jim hadn’t had a compelling goal. This year when you are thinking about what you would like to achieve think BIG. What would you move heaven and earth to achieve?

Start with your big goal and then work backwards. You are much more likely to stick to a diet, declutter your house, get fit, etc. when the big goal excites you.

The sense of exhilaration that Jim felt when he completed the race was ‘ Absolute Elation’. Not only did he achieve his goal but he now has the knowledge that he can do anything that he sets his mind and this will stay with him forever.

When inspired ADHD adults can achieve incredible feats in a very short space of time, so can you. So your first action for 2010 is to create a compelling and exciting goal. Don’t worry about how you will achieve your goal, your only job today is to think WHAT you would like to achieve!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

Other articles you will enjoy

How to Realize Your Goals

10 Reasons To Set Goals When You Have ADHD

How do I maintain focus in a high stress work environment?

keyboardHow do I maintain focus in a high stress work environment?First it’s important to take care of yourself with the first 5 steps of Untapped Brilliance.
This means, taking Omega 3 supplements, exercise regularly, eat a healthy ADHD diet, daily meditation and get enough sleep.

People find this a boring answer, as it is information they have heard before and they were hoping for something new and sexy. However, the reason you have heard about these things before is because they work!

These actions provide you with strong and solid foundations. A building with strong foundations can survive adverse weather conditions. In contrast, a building whose foundation is weak or non-existent will crumble with a slightest puff of wind. When you take care of yourself with those 5 steps you will find you are able to focus, concentrate and emotionally able to handle your high stress work environment.

There are other things you can do too when you are actually at work:

1) Take breaks. If you are busy and stressed you think that working through your breaks will help. It doesn’t. Breaks help you to be   focused and on top of your game when you return.

2) Be in the moment. I know this sounds hard, but when you are mindful and focus on the task you are doing at that given moment, you will feel grounded and centered. You will get a  sense of job satisfaction and if at a later point you question if you did it or to a good standard, you will know you did.

3) Positive Affirmation. Have a positive affirmation that you repeat to yourself in times of stress. It doesn’t matter what that is, so long as it makes you feel good. A few examples would be…’I am doing really well’ ‘I work well in a busy environment’ ‘I am focused and grounded’

When you talk to yourself calming, kindly and positively you will notice a big difference on your physical performance.