ADHD – helping our children to recover
There is no better example of how food directly affects our emotions than the example of children suffering from ADHD. The majority of the cases I have dealt with share many striking similarities: the child is very bright; his body is very sensitive to what he consumes, especially to the non-natural food additives, toxins, heavy metals and junk food. Over a period of time, the level of toxins in the body reaches such an alarming level, that the toxins are starting to create havoc when it comes to the child’s behaviour. The higher the level of toxins, especially heavy metals, the more aggressive the child becomes.
A typical diet of a child diagnosed with ADHD consists of high levels of sugar, artificial colourings, preservatives, gluten, dairy (the list of the offenders is long) with very little, if any, nutritious elements, required by the body to function .The diet needs to be corrected as the first port of call. The toxins need to be removed and the child needs to be given the nourishment his body requires.
A typical diet of a child recovering from ADHD should consist of a substantial amount of fresh, raw food, the right combination of vitamins and minerals (without which the body cannot function and which are no longer available from our food sources) as well as other food supplements such as wheatgrass and spirulina, to name just a few. Gluten, dairy, any form of sugar, white rice, excessive amounts of potatoes as well as any ready products, chips or fried food (including chips), fizzy drinks or juices (unless home-made from fresh veg) are off limits. A good rule to follow is this – if what you are about to buy has more than one ingredient – don’t buy it. Parents and guardians are encouraged to prepare meals from scratch in order to make sure that they are in full control of what the child eats and drinks.
It is important that the child gets as much of food packed with nutrients as possible – hence raw, green vegetables are advised. It is also important to remember the rules of food combining: never to combine carbohydrates with meat, as both types of food require very different levels of acidity in the stomach. In practical terms, that means eating fish or meat with vegetables (except for potatoes), as opposed to eating them with pasta, rice or potatoes. Pasta, by the way, is a challenging food to break down and does not have any beneficial nutritious elements in it (even though some would disagree) and is therefore not advised for children with ADHD – it is not a type of food naturally found in nature, it is man-made.
The typical diet of a person living in the Western world includes a variety of grains. Some of them are more problematic than others. There is a hierarchy of grains worth mentioning, from the most challenging to the least, which starts with the well-known offender – wheat, then rye, oats, barley, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa (not a grain but a seed). If the level of toxicity in the child is very high (which can be tested, but which also will always be reflected in the level anger or aggression in their behaviour), it is advisable to start with the level below brown rice, as even that might be too challenging for their body.
In the majority of cases, changes begin to show after 4-6 weeks period, once the body has had a chance to recover.
Diet alone is not enough, though. By the time the child has developed ADHD his image of himself has usually changed drastically. The child becomes convinced that he is a ‘bad’ person since he can no longer control his aggressive behaviour. This is the part that can be at times missed by the parents. Experiencing outbursts of violence without being able to control or stop them is very frightening for the child. Working with the child and the parents is a crucial step towards success here. The more both sides understand where the aggression is coming from, what is causing it and how to stop it, the more the child and the parents are able to separate the person from his condition.
Working on developing a new, positive self-image is as important as adjusting the diet or understanding the triggers behind the destructive behaviour. The child is meant come out of the process not only less toxic physically, but also empowered on the emotional level. Addressing one without addressing the other simply does not produce the same results.
We are still far from recognising just what effect diet alone has on the state of our mental health. The sooner we replace convenience, old habits and lack of information with the right nutrition, the sooner we will end the needless suffering of our children. At the end of the day, they are the ones paying the ultimate price for it.