The Keys to a Balanced Breakfast

Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for individuals with ADHD, it is especially important. I personally struggle in the morning to eat a breakfast that will keep me full until lunch. If I don’t have a breakfast plan for the week, I end up picking something up or grabbing something quick at home. Whether you have ADHD or not, you should do whatever it takes to eat a balanced breakfast.  By eating breakfast in the morning, you jump start your metabolism and break your night long fast (break-fast).  What you chose to eat for breakfast can impact the rest of your day. A research study published by Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that children who routinely ate breakfast had decreased hyperactivity, fewer behavior problems, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and improved attention span.

Research shows that children with ADHD can’t afford to skip breakfast. For children and adults, it is important to choose a balanced breakfast, rich in key nutrients to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the morning.  If you are wondering how to start your day with a balanced breakfast, here are five tips to help you get started.

5 Keys to a Balanced Breakfast

11 Ways to Meet Your Vitamin B6 Needs

This week we have focused on the important role that vitamin B6 plays in improving the symptoms of ADHD.  Increasing your vitamin B6 intake leads to increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Increased dopamine leads to increased attention and the ability to stay alert. Luckily, there are many ways to meet your vitamin B6 needs. Women need 1.3-1.5 mg of B6 and Men need 1.2-1.7 mg of B6.  There are a wide variety of foods that contain vitamin B6, but it is important to choose the foods that have a higher biological value so your body will absorb more of the nutrient.   Here are some of the top sources of Vitamin B6 to help you maximize your intake.

11 ways to Meet your Vitamin B6 Needs:

meet your vitamin B6 needs

Nutrient to Focus On: Zinc

By now, you know that diet and exercise play a crucial role in ADHD.  Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and iron all have the potential to improve ADHD symptoms.  This week, we will turn the focus on zinc. Zinc is a trace element and a micro-mineral. It is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.  Zinc has many important functions: it regulates the activity of intracellular brain signals (including dopamine); it regulates the activity of fatty acids and melatonin; and it plays a structural role in protein.  Each of these functions plays an important role in the symptoms of ADHD, which is why zinc is the nutrient to focus on this week.

Some studies have shown that children with ADHD have lower levels of zinc than children without ADHD, which suggests a relationship between zinc concentrations and ADHD symptoms. Another research study suggested that zinc may help improve ADHD related behavior and symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to be the most effective nutrients in reducing ADHD symptoms through diet. Zinc provides protection against oxidative damage of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Without zinc, these benefits may be compromised if the omega-3 fatty acids oxidize and form free radicals. Zinc supplements have shown to alleviate some symptoms of ADHD including hyperactivity and impulsivity. I believe that you and your child can meet your daily Zinc needs by including the right foods in your diet.  The best sources of zinc are animal proteins including meat, fish and poultry.  Pork shoulder is a great source of zinc, with 4.2 mg in a 3 ounce serving, which is why I have chosen Pork Carnitas as today’s recipe.

Vegetarian Friendly Ways to Add Iron to Each Meal

Happy April Fool’s Day! This week, we have been focused on iron and the role it plays in improving ADHD symptoms.  A diet rich in iron leads to increased dopamine production which improves cognitive function.  You now know ways to optimize iron absorption, but how much iron do you need each day  The USDA iron recommendation is 18 milligrams for women and 8 milligrams for men. If you are a vegetarian, it is recommended that you try to consume twice the amount of dietary iron because non-heme (vegetarian) sources of iron are absorbed less efficiently than heme (meat) iron. Here are some meat-free strategies to help you get to 18 mg of Iron that you need each day.

4 Ways to Absorb More Iron

As you may know, this week's Nutrient to Focus on is Iron.  Did you know that iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world? Many individuals struggle to maintain their iron levels, especially those of us with ADHD.  If you are trying to increase the iron in your diet, you need to know these 4 strategies to maximize your iron absorption. Here are 4 Ways to Maximize Your Iron Absorption: Watch out for Calcium: this mineral can block iron absorption in the small intestine.  If you are taking an iron supplement, avoid eating dairy within 30 minutes of taking the iron supplement. For dietary iron, avoid adding dairy to a meal to maximize iron absorption. Vitamin C: This vitamin has the opposite affect of Calcium...

Nutrient to Focus On: Protein

Nutrition is the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism and repair.  Specific nutrients provide our bodies with the fuel that we need to survive.  These nutrients are categorized into two sub groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.  Protein is a macronutrient that our bodies cannot function without, which is why this week’s nutrient to focus on is protein.  Whether or not you have ADHD, protein is an essential nutrient that you must include in your diet.  For those of us with ADHD, there may be extra benefits to getting the amount of protein you need. Research suggests that ADHD is caused by low or abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries nerve impulses across the brain.  Dopamine levels are associated with motor and cognitive function, both of which are related to  ADHD. You might be wondering, “What does dopamine have to do with protein? ” When you eat a source of protein, your body breaks the protein into amino acids and transport them across the body.   Amino acids are used to maintain your body’s muscles, blood, bones, and organs.  L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that can be used to form dopamine, which can lead to better motor and cognitive function and can potentially improve ADHD symptoms.  The bottom line: High quality protein sources can provide L-Tyrosine can lead to increased dopamine levels in the brain and potentially reduced ADHD symptoms.

Here are the six main sources of protein that you need to know:

  1. Eggs
  2. Nuts and Seeds
  3. Poultry
  4. Beans and Peas
  5. Meat
  6. Seafood

You now know the main sources of protein and how they can benefit those with ADHD.  Since it is a Monday, I want to share a “Meatless Monday” recipe with you all.  One of my go-to Meatless Monday recipes is tomato soup with chickpeas and pesto.  What goes better with tomato soup than grilled cheese? My husband and I usually split a grilled cheese sandwich to have with our tomato soup to cut down on the extra calories.  The chickpeas in this soup are a great source of protein and fiber.  What are some of your favorite Meatless Monday recipes?

Meatless Monday Recipe: Tomato Soup

Quick and easy tomato soup with chickpeas and pesto

Recipe Source: Runner’s World

The Feingold Diet

Back in the seventies, Benjamin Feingold wrote a book called "Why Your Child is Hyperactive" that introduced an ADHD diet. He recommended eliminating artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and natural salicylates from the diet because he believed they were contributing to increased hyperactivity in children with ADHD. The Feingold diet was dismissed by experts since then, but has started to make a comeback more recently. An article from the Chicago Tribune from 2013 investigates whether the Feingold diet should be introduced in children with ADHD. I was most surprised to learn that the European Union requires a warning label on foods that contain one of six artificial food dyes. What are your thoughts on the fact that the FDA has yet to enforce a similar warning? I...

Fight ADHD with Flaxseed

Last week, we discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acids that individuals with ADD and ADHD must include in their diets(in case you missed it, read more here). Omega-3s can help fight inflammation and improve ADD and ADHD symptoms. Yesterday we featured a delicious salmon recipe, but I realized many people do not eat fish for a number of reasons.   As a result, today I am focusing on flaxseed. Flaxseeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, manganese, and vitamin B1. If you are anything like me, getting out the door in the morning can be a major struggle and I don’t even have kids to worry about. Thats why this recipe I recently discovered, No Bake Energy Bites, is one of the many quick bites I like to have for those (many) chaotic mornings.  I have created my own version of these, which I have included below.  I prefer almond butter, but you can substitute with other types of nut butter.  If you add the chia seeds to these delicious bites of energy, then you will increase the nutritional density of these delightful snacks. These energy bites are quick and easy to make and don’t require any cooking.   I hope you all enjoy.

No Bake Energy Bites (original recipe found here )

IMG_0744 2

Omega-3 Rich Simple Salmon Recipe


Now that we all have an understanding of the potential benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids for those with ADHD and ADD, it is time to start cooking some meals that provide these essential nutrients. Salmon is an example of a fatty fish that is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Salmon is also a great source of Vitamin D, which most individuals do not get enough of on a daily basis.  When choosing what type of salmon, keep in mind that wild-caught salmon is a better source of omega-3 fatty acids than farm raised salmon.  One of my go to salmon recipes is Panko Crusted-Salmon, from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten. I have included her recipe below.  When I prepare this recipe, I use lemon infused olive oil instead of regular olive oil to really boost the lemon flavor.  Obviously, there are many ways to prepare salmon and this might not be your first choice.  I would love to hear what your favorite salmon recipe is. Please leave your favorite salmon recipe in the comments.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Until Next Time,


The Distracted Dietitian

Panko Crusted Salmon Recipe

ADHD and Me

I want to clarify one thing about my first post: I am not an expert on ADHD. I am, however, an expert on nutrition and dietetics.  I have read many books and other resources on ADHD and various strategies for coping with the challenges of ADHD.  As a result, I have chosen to combine these two areas. Since I was a child, I have struggled with ADHD and maintaining a healthy weight. My personal experience has lead me to believe that food plays an important role in the symptoms associated with ADHD.  If you yourself have ADHD or you are a parent of a child with ADHD, you may know that food affects behavior.  The question is, what foods improve behaviors and symptoms and what foods...