I Had An Epiphany!

You know “ADHD” stands for “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, right?

The moniker is highly inaccurate in my humble opinion, but its unlikely that the name is going to change… Anyhoo – the name describes a disorder diagnosed in children who battle because they are unable to PAY attention.

What was my epiphany?

I think its far more accurate to say it describes children who battle because they don’t GET enough attention!

ADHD is a very selfish disorder, its completely “spotlight on me please” and people with ADHD will use any and all means to get the attention they need – good and bad!

Something On An ADHD Diet And Supplements

Let me start by saying that research and products change over time – so recommendations and opinions need to change too. My own view point about treating ADHD has changed vastly since my son was diagnosed!

So why has ADHD (and Autism) become so prevalent?

One of the main reasons is that our diet is just plain terrible!

Our metabolic process is drastically affected by a lack of nutrients, especially Essential Fatty Acids. EFAs can be defined as follows: Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes, and not those that only act as fuel. And what that boils down to is that our bodies cannot manufacture EFAs and we have no choice but to get them from our diet.

What is different about our diets now, compared to say, 30 years ago? Well, we eat on the run, in front of the TV, in the car, and often only once a day. We eat microwave meals, and instant meals and quite simply, it makes it impossible to get all our nutrients and vitamins we need from our food. Unless you grow our own veggies, make your own fertiliser, keep chickens for fresh eggs, keep a goat for fresh milk and so on, its not going to happen.

  • More fast foods means more fat, trans-fats in particular
  • More processed foods means more colourants & preservatives
  • More frozen foods, foods picked before they’re ripe, and foods eaten out of season means a lack of nutrients
  • And there used to be far fewer added hormones, preservatives, colourants and flavourings in our food

You want to know something scary? The average adult South African takes in 65kg of fat per year!! Unfortunately, good and bad fats are absorbed by our bodies; the bad ones just don’t get used like the good ones do. When it comes to what we eat, our carb intake provides glucose for the brain (from bread, pasta and cereals). And since the brain only uses what it needs, any excess becomes glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles, and becomes fat. Because the brain needs the glucose, it’s not a good idea to cut out carbs completely, but balancing them is vital and good fats like avo, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil can aid in slowing down the body’s carb uptake and provide a balance.

Changing your diet is a process, not a quick fix. Sudden sweeping changes may actually result in crankiness and moodiness in anyone- adult or child. Here are some food tips for picky ADHDer eaters:

  • When it comes to snack foods try some of the following:
    • Apple and peanut butter! Its an American favourite!
    • Raw veggies and cottage cheese or mayo to dip them in. If your ADHDer is old enough, let them slice and dice and chop their own veggies!
    • Add a little milk and fruit pulp to yoghurt and make it into a “shake”.
    • Add fruit pulp to plain yoghurt and freeze into “lollies”- and ZipLoc bags work just as well as plastic lolly makers do.
    • Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into funny shapes, this works well for younger kidlets.
  • Lots of children won’t eat plain bread, so try cubing it and frying it “dry” in a non-stick pan (or toast it in the oven) and have “croutons” instead. Add them to salads and soups for a little extra carbs.
  • When cooking, use palm or coconut or grape seed oil as the olive oil has a low heat tolerance and it becomes unhealthy when it gets too hot.
  • At the same time, try not to snack too much between meals. An ADHDer with a small appetite will already battle to eat his lunch or dinner, and if he has had too many snacks between meals he’ll be even less inclined to eat a plate of food.
  • Don’t be afraid of eggs! If your child doesn’t already have a cholesterol problem and is not allergic or diabetic, they can eat several eggs a day. And try plain or cheese omelettes instead of fried or boiled eggs!
  • Plant a veggie garden and let your ADHDer grow and eat his own raw veggies from his own garden!
  • Consider Ensure or an equivalent meal replacement milkshake instead of a meal to encourage them to “eat”, but you may want to avoid too much milk.
  • If your ADHDer didn’t eat a specific type of food a year or 6 months ago, try re-introducing it at a later date.
  • Ask your ADHDer to choose a vegetable or fruit to “try out” when doing your groceries, whether or not they go to the shop with you.
  • Offer a straw to drink soup with rather than eating it with a spoon- straws are more fun after all!
  • If your ADHDer likes something like mac-n-cheese or spaghetti bolognaise, try mixing in a little wheat germ or shredded chicken to boost the nutritional value, and you can do the same by adding puréed veggies to pasta sauces.
  • Try not to make a fuss if your ADHDer won’t eat something in particular, or won’t eat at meal time. Remember that our ADHDers thrive on negative attention AND positive attention so praise your ADHDer for what he or she has eaten. Making meal time stressful won’t help encourage your ADHDer to eat.
  • Try to avoid all the artificial sweeteners in fizzy diet drinks.
  • When it comes to colourants, one on its own may not do much harm, but we take in such a hectic cocktail of colours and flavours every day it actually gets quite overwhelming.

I’m also not saying that you have to avoid kids parties and never, ever eat out again. Moderation is the key! Our ADHDers already have so much stress and so many limitations that the occasional party really isn’t the end of the world. I wrote a post about kids parties a while ago that states my opinion on that subject.

🙂

As for supplements? If you’ve ever stepped into that aisle in a Dischem store, you’ll know this can be quite a minefield. And you must be careful of how you supplement!

When you’re looking for an Omega3 supplement, look for the highest levels of EPA and DHA per dose that you can possibly afford. It will be clearly noted on the label. And yes, the price will be scary as shite in some cases, but some frightening recent studies have shown the “cheaper” supplements contain no fish oil at all! You may also want to try the liquid rather than the capsules as it is often cheaper, and in many cases is easier to get down ‘coz you can mix it into a shake! It may seem unreasonable to spend so much money on supplements when you’re already paying for ST, OT, meds, specialists, play therapy, psychotherapy, extra lessons and in some cases private schools, but if you supplement correctly and try to eat right, you may well be able to stop spending on all the other things!

It is ideal of course, to supplement and eat right, but for very picky eaters like our ADHDers often are, just adding a good Omega3 supplement WILL make a difference! Blood tests have shown that ADHDers have very low levels of DHA, and symptoms of ADHD will be reduced with a good Omega3 supplement. Supplementing Omega3 has long been known to be important, and new studies demonstrating its importance can’t be ignored. For the longest time though, people have not supplemented enough to see a real difference.

If there is the risk of a fish allergy, or if you are strict vegans, there are other Omega3 supplement options, but a plant based Omega3 is harder to metabolise. If you haven’t heard about it, Krill oil is another Omega3 supplement (and a bit of a buzz word at the moment) but it is dreadfully expensive and it can contain shellfish contaminants like iodine. Curcumin is another Omega3 supplement but as I already mentioned, the plant based ones is not as easily metabolised and this particular one is expensive. And it doesn’t have to be a salmon oil specifically, just get the best one you can possibly afford.

Studies have also shown that we actually get more than enough Omega6 in our diets already, and over-supplementing can actually cause ADHD symptoms.

Supplementing Omega9 is virtually un-neccessary if you eat correctly and supplement with Omega3 because our bodies are actually capable of manufacturing Omega9, which we can’t do with Omega3 and Omega6. A good multivitamin is also a good idea, but if you don’t eat properly a multivitamin can make your ADHDer very nauseas.

Another minefield id the “Herbal” or “natural” supplements. Herbal doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, and if your child is on medication for ADHD you may actually do more harm than good. One of the problems with these supplements is that different farms- even in the same area- can’t guarantee the same levels of the active ingredient in their crops. And another problem is that South African legislation doesn’t test the contents or potency of these supplements. Anyone can buy a recipe and set up a manufacturing process. How can you evaluate a product? As yourself these questions:

  • Is it too good to be true?
  • Can you trust the label?
  • Is there a little bit of science and whole a lot of infomercial? Paying a movie star to say he uses a product doesn’t mean it will work.
  • Is there third party testing?
  • Can you contact the company and ask questions?

If you can answer these questions satisfactorily, then consider trying it.

And if something claims to be a “cure”, run away screaming!!

A very important thing to keep in mind is that no two people respond to supplements or medications the same way, and you must take the placebo effect into account. For example, if you have a headache, and a doctor gives you a Tic-Tac and tells you it’s a revolutionary new pill, it may well take your headache away. It may not work a second time, but the simple act of believing something will help will have a positive effect. This is the same for ADHD treatments. When we start something new we watch our ADHDers like hawks, waiting to see side-effects or positive results, and the extra focus will make a positive difference even if the supplement or medication or therapy you’re trying isn’t actually working.

And some ADHDers will still need some form of medication even if they are eating right; the trick is to find a balance that works best for your child.

So to sum up- find the right Omega3 supplement, find ways to encourage your ADHDer to eat right, and give it time to work before deciding it doesn’t work.

X Marks The Spot

I took this one off of Seize The Chocolate, who found it on Juggling Act Of Life, who got it from Wenchy– and this is a perfect example of how blogging works by the way- so I thought I’d do it too.

I think I’ve done a few of these “X” thingies before… And in case you’re wondering, they are the same lists- I just sorted it alphabetically. I couldn’t help myself.

  • Been boating     X
  • Been bungee-jumping
  • Been camping in a tent     X
  • Been camping in a trailer
  • Been downhill skiing & made it down the hill without falling
  • Been fishing     X
  • Been in a car accident
  • Been lost     X
  • Been on TV     X
  • Been skinny-dipping outdoors     X
  • Been to court     X
  • Been to Victoria Falls
  • Been water skiing
  • biscuits or cake for dinner     X
  • Caught a snowflake on your tongue
  • Cried yourself to sleep     X
  • Donated blood
  • Done something that could have killed you-but didn’t     X
  • Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life     X
  • Driven a motorcycle/ been a passenger     X
  • Eaten ice cream for breakfast
  • Flown in a helicopter
  • Flown in a hot air balloon     X
  • Flown in a small 4-seater airplane
  • Gone on a blind date     X
  • Gone to a drive-in movie     X
  • Had a pet     X
  • Had children     X
  • Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose     X
  • Made prank phone calls     X
  • Met Nelson Mandela
  • Paid for a meal with coins only
  • Played bowls (old man’s marbles)
  • Played cops and robbers     X
  • Played cowboys and Indians     X
  • Recently coloured with crayons
  • Rode an elephant
  • Sang a solo or duet in church     X
  • Sang Karaoke     X
  • Saw someone die
  • Shot a gun     X
  • Skipped school     X
  • Stolen any traffic cones
  • Stolen any traffic signs
  • Swam in the Ocean     X
  • Travelled by train     X
  • Travelled to the opposite side of the country
  • Visited America
  • Visited Asia
  • Visited Australia     X
  • Visited Cape Town     X
  • Visited Europe
  • Visited Mauritius
  • Visited Pretoria     X
  • Visited Sun City     X
  • Walked on a glacier

I Dance Like A Yeti!

LOL! My @glugster’s favourite TV advert at the moment is the Castle Lite advert with the yeti in it.

Whilst I will never admit to putting on the moves like the yeti uses at the beginning of the ad- when only my cats are watching- if you watch from about the 40th second you’ll see him getting down to the groove in the background, and I have been known to employ similar moves when the music grabs me…