Why is Omega 3 Important When You Have ADHD?

Did you know that people with ADHD have less omega-3 in their bodies than people without ADHD?  Low levels of omega-3 can result in poor attention, focus, working memory issues and mood swings, all of which are very much like ADHD symptoms.
omega 3 and omega 6 for adhd

Of course, low levels of Omega-3 do not cause ADHD, nor does increasing your omega-3 levels cure ADHD.  However, researchers have found that taking a supplement does improve ADHD symptoms.

7 Benefits of Taking Omega-3

*Improves classic ADHD symptoms. For example it increases focus and attention.

*Increases memory, motivation and learning. Watch this compelling video about how omega-3’s helped transform Elliot’s life.

*Reduces feeling blue or depression. This is one of the biggest benefits clients report to me.

* Can help reduce symptoms of conditions that often co-exist with ADHD, such as  anxiety.

* Improvement in PMS symptoms. This is great news for ADHD women as many struggle with PMS and an increase in their ADHD symptoms.

* Might reduce the side effects of stimulant ADHD medication. Talk with your doctor before taking omega-3 with your prescribed medication.

* Better quality sleep.

What Exactly is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. They are aptly named ‘essential’ because they are vital for your health.  They keep our brain and nerves working well and are used to build new cells.  Since our bodies cannot produce this type of fat, we need to make a conscious effort to consume it.

The main categories of essential fats are omega-3 and –omega-6. If you are eating a typical western diet, you don’t need to worry about getting enough omega-6. You will already be getting lots from rapeseed soybean and sunflower seed oil.

However, it is much harder to get enough omega-3 without careful planning.

The ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 is also very important.  One hundred years ago, the ratio between the two fats in the average person’s diet were 1:1; now our average ratio is around 20:1, weighted towards omega-6.

Omega-3

There are 3 types of omega-3 fats: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

DHA is found in cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and rainbow trout.

EPA is 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.  Our bodies then convert it to DHA and EPA.

Do I need to Take a Supplement?

Since Omega-3 has so many benefits when you have ADHD, and because it is quite hard to get enough from your diet alone, taking an omega-3 supplement is a good choice.  Paul Montogomery, researcher at the University of Oxford in England, says that people would be ‘lucky’ to increase their omega levels with diet alone.

When you are choosing a supplement, look for one that has more EPA’s than DHA’s. The ideal would be 3 or 4x EPAs to DHA’s.

Ways to Include Omega-3 Into Your Diet

In addition to taking a supplement, you can still include omega-3 into your diet. Here are some ideas.

Fish, such as Salmon, tuna, mackerel, rainbow trout

Walnuts

Flaxseed

Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale.

What if I am Allergic to Fish?

If you are allergic to fish or are a vegetarian, you can still get the benefits from omega3. Check out this article to learn more.

What About Cod Liver Oil?

Cod liver oil is a fish oil;however, the levels of DHA and EPA are lower in cod liver oil than an omega-3 supplements.  To learn more about cod liver oil for ADHD, head here.

Speak With Your Doctor

Omega-3 supplements are sold at pharmacies, health food stores and on the internet. However,  speak with your doctor before you start to take them.  Like all supplements they have side effects and can change the way your body uses prescribed medication.

What if Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Agree With Me?

Some people find that Omega-3 supplements upset their stomach, give them fish burps,or just generally make them feel off.  To avoid this, start with a low dose and gradually increase to your recommended dose. Take your supplement with your main meal of day. Sometimes the ingredients in the capsules can be the reason why you feel ‘‘off’. In which case, a liquid form of omega-3 might be helpful. The liquid is often flavored, sometimes  with lemon, so that it tastes pleasant when you swallow it.

How Long Does it Take for Omega-3 Supplements to Start Working?

Research has shown that it takes approximately 4 weeks for improvements to be noticed. However, many of my clients notice differences in as little as a week.  Some people say they haven’t  noticed any improvement and decide to stop taking their omega-3 supplements. It is only after they stopped that they realize that they had been working after all.

 

Have you tried omega-3 supplements?

 

14 Ways to Eliminate ADHD Afternoon Crashes

14 Ways to Eliminate ADHD Afternoon CrashesBetween 2 pm and 4 pm, Adults with ADHD often experience afternoon crashes. Everyone experience afternoon slumps to some degree; where you feel mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. However, there are factors in the ADHDers’ life; which means you don’t just experience a little slump, yours are full blown crashes. Aside from wanting to fall asleep on the spot, they also affect your attention, focus, productivity, and your ability to stay calm and rational.

Here are 14 things you can do to minimize or eliminate your afternoon crashes. The more suggestions you implement, the more results you will see.

Mindset

1) Don’t feel guilty! ADHDers feel a lot of guilt and shame for a lot of things in their life including afternoon crashes. They feel bad they can’t concentrate on the meeting or that they are falling asleep in class and blame themselves. It is not your fault! It’s the way our bodies are wired. Circadian rhythms (which control our sleep) send sleep signals at night time and in the afternoon. Instead of blaming yourself, observe what is happening in a non- judgemental way and then use the suggestions below to help.

Preventative

2) Set Yourself Up For Success
Most ADHDers don’t eat breakfast; either because they don’t feel hungry in the mornings or because they are in too much of a rush to get out of the door. However, starting the day with an ADHD-friendly breakfast is incredibly helpful to avoid the afternoon crash.
Click here to learn what the best ADHD breakfast is. http://untappedbrilliance.com/the-adhd-breakfast

If you aren’t hungry because you take ADHD meds, eat first then take your meds. If you just can’t face food in the morning, make a protein smoothie because it’s easier to consume than solids.

3) Have an ADHD-Friendly Lunch
Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run, or skipped when you have ADHD. Or because you missed breakfast, you are ravenous and eat a big heavy lunch. What you diet for lunch has a direct effect on your energy in the afternoon. Take time to eat a gluten-free lunch with some good-quality protein (chicken or fish) and fiber in the form of vegetables. Your afternoons will be transformed.

4) Your Zzzzzs
75% of ADHDers have problems with falling and staying asleep. If you are sleep deprived or had a night of poor sleep, then an afternoon crash is more likely to happen. However, they can still be minimized with the other suggestions on this list. To learn more about how to sleep well when you have ADHD, head here. How To Sleep Very Well When You Have ADHD

5) Be a Smart Caffeine Drinker
Caffeine isn’t bad; and if you become a smart caffeine drinker, you can still drink it and not get afternoon crashes.

Drink your first coffee of the day after you have eaten breakfast.
If drinking coffee gives you energy highs and lows, then switch to green tea.
Both of these tips will give you more sustained energy. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm because it will infer with your sleep (which in turn affects crashes).

6) Get Moving
After you exercise, your whole body and mind is energized for 3 hours. To capitalize on this, move your workout to lunch time and see if you notice a difference in your energy level in the afternoons.

7) Drink up
Staying hydrated is by far the simplest ways to fight fatigue, yet remembering to drink water throughout the day isn’t as simple. Don’t skip this step!
Head here for my tips to drink water when you have ADHD.

8) Goodbye Stress
Stress is exhausting! If your morning is full of tension, mini crisis (forgetting things, mad dashes for deadlines), worry and anxiety, then by the afternoon, you will be emotionally exhausted and ready to crash. Combating stress is a long term project.

Stress comes from 2 sources: things you can control and things you can’t.
Focus on the life stressors that are in your control. Managing your ADHD and using strategies to reduce your worry and anxiety (which ADHDers are natural pros at) is a great place to start.

9) Stop Multi-Tasking
ADHDers love to multi-task. It feels exciting and exhilarating. However, it’s also very tiring. Every time we shift focus, we burn glucose, which is the food our neurons use. After a couple of hours of speedy shifting, we feel drained and ready for a nap. Also, our glucose store is depleted; cortisol (the stress hormone) has also been released, causing us to feel edgy and stressed.
Stop multi-tasking and start single tasking.

During a crash

10) Have a Protein Afternoon Snack
If you notice yourself heading towards a crash, have a protein snack. Perhaps some nut butter with an apple. It is a really helpful pick-me-up. You might be craving sugar in the form of a candy bar, but that will only delay the crash. Protein will divert it.

11) Meds Crashes
Do you take ADHD meds? A powerful reason why you experience afternoon crashes is because your meds have worn off. If this is the case, here are some tips for you.

a) Consider speaking to your doctor and get prescribed another tablet to see you through to the end of the work day.
b) If you are taking your medication at the same time every day, your crashes will occur at about the same time every afternoon, which allows you to create a plan for that time. Don’t schedule meetings with other people then. Have some food at hand because you will probably be starving. Be gentle with yourself. Plan to have at least 30 minutes downtime until you can start functioning at your best again. A little walk outside, or meditation is also helpful.

12) Switch Tasks
Sometimes your brain needs a break. Rather than forcing yourself to stay doing a task that is putting you to sleep, switch over to another one. Pick one that you are motivated to do, that is going to engage your brain but not overtax it. It’s best if it’s away from a screen. Bonus points if it involves physical movement.

13) Turn Up the Music
Music can energize you and revitalize you. Put some of your favourite tunes on. Be sure that the music is upbeat and happy. Sober music or one with depressing lyrics will bring you down and make you tired.

14) Go for a Walk
Going for a quick walk will shake off the tiredness. Movement increases your blood circulation, which increases blood flow to your brain. Walking in the fresh air is a bonus.

 

Do you have afternoon crashes? What helps yours? Leave a message in the comment below!

 
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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

Print out the sheet to help you with your planning!

 

ADHD-Friendly Recipes

ADHD friendly recipiesMeal 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. 🙂
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!

ADHD 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!