Unfortunately, we are in the day and age where more people, usually children, are being diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. With the ever rising diagnoses comes more medication prescriptions. According to the CDC, 11% of children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2011. From 2003 to 2011 there was a 5% increase in diagnoses each year.
Rightfully, many parents are concerned with putting their children on meds. Especially since the main prescription, Ritalin, has some worrisome side effects. Some of the less serious side effects include stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, headache, sweating, mild rash, feeling nervous, insomnia, and weight loss. Some of the more serious side effects are fast heartbeat, feeling like you are about to pass out, fever, sore throat, headaches, aggressiveness, hallucinations, easy bruising, and dangerously high blood pressure.
Yikes, that is some pretty scary stuff. Because of the concern over these potential side effects, more and more parents are looking for natural remedies for ADHD. Luckily, there are many natural things you can do to try and ease some of the symptoms of ADHD.
Diet and Nutrition
Although there isn’t much talk about a correlation between ADHD and diet/nutrition, there are reasons to believe that adjusting a child’s diet can help. Above everything, a diet consisting of whole foods is always the best choice. Here is a great list of whole foods and their additional medicinal benefits. There are certain foods that can help, and also foods that can make it worse. Even in children without ADHD, these choices are still a good idea.
Foods that your child should eat are:
- High proteins such as meat, cheese, eggs, beans, and nuts. These are especially important because they also contain B-Complex Vitamins which are also said to help treat ADHD.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as walnuts, white fish, olive oil and canola oil. These are said to improve moods and help the memory.
- Complex Carbohydrates such as vegetables, grapefruit, pears, oranges, apples, kiwis, and tangerines.
- Magnesium rich foods like spinach, avocado, bananas, almonds, peanut butter, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown long grained rice. These are said to calm anxiety, fidgeting, and restlessness.
- Zinc rich foods such as red meats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and eggs. Zinc is said to reduce hyperactivity and irritability.
Foods that your child should steer clear of include:
- Simple carbohydrates such as candy, corn syrup, honey, sugar, white flour, white rice, and potatoes.
- Processed foods such as candy, potato chips, pretzels, soda, sugary cereal, enriched bread, fast food, and sugary desserts.
- Artificial coloring. These are said to promote hyperactivity and children with ADHD should not be eating foods with any artificial colors. Be sure to check labels very carefully, because many frozen fruits and vegetables are said to contain artificial coloring.
- Caffeine. This is a major reason, along with sugar, that children should not be drinking soda. Caffeine is said to promote hyperactivity, and also increases distractibility.
Relaxation is good for anyone. It can calm you down and reduce stress. It is even more beneficial for someone with ADHD. There are a number of ways you can relax to help the symptoms of ADHD. Some of the relaxation techniques are:
Sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital for those with ADHD. This is because sleep deprivation makes symptoms worse, and makes treatment of ADHD even harder. You can read this great article on natural ways to relieve tiredness and create a better you.
Get a massage. Massages are said to release serotonin, which is known for increasing calmness.
Limit use of electronics. Electronics such as smart phones, tablets, or computers make the symptoms of ADHD worse. It is a good idea to limit the amount of time that is being spent on electronics.
Get Exercise and Go Outside
These two methods of helping with ADHD symptoms go hand in hand. Exercise stimulates endorphins, which in turn calms the anxiety those with ADHD may have. It is said that yoga or another form of meditative exercise is best, but any exercise is better than none. Exercise that requires you to focus on hand eye coordination is good, also. It helps a person with ADHD to learn to become more coordinated and helps them focus.
Giving your child time outside, or “green time,” is beneficial the same way that exercise is. Using up energy outside is more likely to help your child come home focused and calm. Allowing them to play outside will help their hyperactivity when they come back home. At least a half hour outside is recommended daily for children with ADHD.
Organize and Keep A Routine
Setting up and keeping a routine is very beneficial for children with ADHD. If they have a regular routine daily, they are able to sleep better, focus more, and are more able to adapt to changes. It is also said that you should set aside specific “free time.” This is to give the child incentive to follow along with the schedule, knowing there is a reward at the end. This also gives the child a sense of accomplishment.
Being organized is something that is important when your child has ADHD. Keeping everything in its place will get your child used to being organized. It is quite a challenge trying to teach your child with ADHD organization. Once it is accomplished, it is more likely to stick with them, and they will feel very proud of themselves for hurdling another obstacle.
Praise and Acceptance
It is very important to teach your child that they are not a “bad” kid. They thrive when being praised for their accomplishments. It is just as important to understand the disability they have, and accept them. It is not their fault, and it is important that they know that. Feeling the love and acceptance from their parents is really all they strive for. If you show your child acceptance for who they are, and praise them for the goals they reach, you are very likely to see relief from the symptoms of ADHD. The more you praise your child, the more energy they will put into keeping their ADHD at bay.
Find a Good Therapist
ADHD is just one of many behavioral and mental health issues that is best treated with regular and targeted therapy. Unlike other types of general and temporary life issues that can be helped with simple general talk therapy, ADHD, depression, Aspergers, etc. require specialists and very specific approaches toward diagnoses and subsequent treatments.
People who suffer from depression usually respond best to a specially trained therapist who employs either cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy to help the patient learn healthier and more productive methods of dealing with their illness.
Similarly, for a parent whose child has ADHD, it makes sense to seek out and work with a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They are professionals and know so much more about current treatments as well as natural remedies for ADHD. With the unknown long-term side effects of ADHD medications, many parents want to avoid them at all costs and a therapist who specializes in ADHD can help parents make informed decisions about their child’s treatment plan.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, remember: this is not the end of the world. With the right tools and team behind you (or them), it is possible to lead a normal and productive life.