On the other hand, parents may be relieved that there is finally an explanation for the difficulties encountered by their child.
Knowing the symptoms of ADD and understanding how they can combine to affect every facet of the child’s life, can make things so much easier for the child and those that surround him. Teacher and parent awareness that the child is trying to deal with a difficulty, recognising the child’s efforts and supporting rather than condemning him, can improve classroom and family dynamics quite considerably. Supplementation may ameliorate many symptoms, and can also support any therapies the child may be having.
A deficiency of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) seems to aggravate neurological and other symptoms of ADD; supplementation of EFAs as well that the co-nutrient vitamins and minerals (that improve their metabolism), can ameliorate these symptoms. Results are enhanced if substances such as synthetic colourants, synthetic flavourants and anti-oxidant preservatives which inhibit the metabolism of EFAs are removed from the diet.
Wildly fluctuating blood glucose levels could also strongly affect concentration and so it helps to understand the concept of Glycaemic Index (GI), and how to combine foods to serve balanced meals which ensure stable blood glucose levels. Three balanced meals a day, as well as balanced snacks in between, could help towards ‘active concentration’ levels and optimal behaviour for the child.
If a child has allergies or sensitivities, these must also be taken into account. Sugar should be kept to a minimum. In his book, “Optimum Nutrition for the Mind”, Patrick Holford quotes the Massachussetts Institute of Technology’s research project into the sugar eating habits of children. Children who ate the most sugar in a particular community were compared to those that ate the least. Results showed that on average there was a 25 point difference in IQ between the groups, with the children having the lowest sugar intake being the brightest. This does not mean that we have to cut sugar out entirely, but that we keep its use to a minimum. Children never should have sugar on an empty stomach.
Six to nine portions of fruit and vegetables should be eaten daily but this can be a challenge when children refuse to eat any at all. Supplementation may help improve their nutritional status and this often results in children becoming more adventurous in their eating habits.
Healthy eating, improving EFA levels, and stabilizing blood glucose levels can make a tremendous difference to the overall performance of a child with AD/HD however we find that the siblings usually benefit as well. In fact, the whole family benefits from healthier eating habits.
Fifteen years ago there was only one supplement for ADHD on the market. Now there are countless preparations available, and more coming in every day. Some offer EFA supplementation, others are herbal compounds, or amino acids, and it can be very difficult to know what to do first. Improving EFA levels often provides a foundation on which to start, and afterwards, herbs or amino acids can be introduced only if necessary.
The Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group offer a list of foods with brand name products, all of which are unlikely to provoke a reaction in a child with ADD. The “Happy Kids Shop” based in National Office at Delta Park School, provides a range of supplements and helpers are able to assist you with your purchase.
Changing the family’s eating lifestyle can be extremely difficult – however it becomes very well worth it when so much less time is spent cajoling, screaming and shouting at the child. Life becomes easier for everyone and the child is better able to tackle the difficulties that he faces.