Is it worth trying the Mediterranean diet for ADHD?

Is it worth trying the Mediterranean diet for ADHD?

The short answer is….. YES!

So what is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is not a diet loaded with pizza and pasta!

Instead, it is a whole food way of eating, based on unprocessed, natural foods. 

In addition to the actual food, it also reflects a way of eating.

Foods included in Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is based on lots and lots of plants. 

Lots of leafy green vegetables, seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds

It also contains wholegrains.  Grains can be an issue for some people, which is why diets like GAPS, Paleo or Autoimmune protocol remove them entirely.  However, if they are eaten in appropriate quantities (not 5 times a day), and appropriate forms (not heavily processed), they can be a healthy inclusion.

Wholegrains to consider include brown or black rice, whole oats or sourdough bread.

Grain products to avoid are highly processed breads, pastries or breakfast cereals.  Even when a breakfast cereal says it ‘contains wholegrain’, you need to take a step back and ask your self – ‘can you see a whole grain?’  If not, then the wholegrains have been milled to a fine powder and included as an ingredient with other additives and flours.  These types of ‘wholegrains’ do not belong in a Mediterranean diet.

If you do choose to include grains, make sure they are not the main feature of meals and snacks. Vegetables should be the main event!

Nuts and seeds to include are raw, not salted or seasoned. 

When nuts are salted, it is not so much that the salt is a problems, but it’s the inflammatory fat they have to be fried in first to make the salt stick.  Even if they have a corny marketing messages like ‘baked not fried’, this just means the inflammatory oil gets sprayed on after baking.

Olive oil is another poster child for the Mediterranean diet. 

Choose organic, extra virgin olive oil, and drizzle liberally on salads or veggie.  You can also use it for cooking, although you can use normal olive oil, not extra virgin.

Dairy products are included, but only fermented. 

So think of cheese, kefir and yoghurt. 

Not icecream, milkshakes or hot chocolates.

The Mediterranean diet includes fish, eggs and poultry frequently, and red meat less so. 

I see so many kids in clinic who are not eating enough protein and have anaemia due to not eating enough red meat.  I think it is wise to include more of these foods, including small amounts frequently.  It should always be organic however, so the types of fats in the meat are healthier.  Conventional meat has less beneficial fats and more harmful fats. 

To make sure your kids get enough protein (essential for neurotransmitters), make sure they get lots of beans, lentils and nuts.  These will also be a major boost to gut health.

How to eat

The Mediterranean way of eating is all about the family sitting round the table, relaxing and socialising. 

It isn’t about grabbing food and eating it in the car on the way somewhere. 

Find time in your day to sit down and have a nice meal with your family. The benefits are worth it!

What does the science say?

Research shows that ADHD is associated with a lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet. 

This means that children who eat a Mediterranean diet have less chance of having ADHD. 

This is pretty clear cut! 

Specifically, researchers have found that children who don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, who often skip breakfast, and eat fast food are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children who eat more fruit and vegetables, eat breakfast and don’t eat fast food.

Other habits which led to more ADHD were having a lot of soft drinks and lollies and not eating enough fatty fish.

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