The Best Foods for ADHD in Children – and Foods to Avoid

Based on clinical studies as well as evidence-based practice, there is a solid reason to believe that a nutrition plan featuring the best foods for ADHD can improve the quality of life of individuals with ADHD. 

However, certain foods can also make your child’s ADHD symptoms worse. Read further to understand how you can include a well-balanced diet to regulate ADHD. 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder that makes focusing on everyday things very challenging. 

Medications, although a convenient option, can often cause side effects in kids. Some of these include sleep problems, mood swings and loss of appetite.

On the other hand, a well-balanced and nutritious diet plays a crucial role in the mental and physical well-being of growing children. Consuming food with fresh ingredients and limiting the intake of sugars, artificial colors and processed food can help bolster immunity and ensure health and wellness in both kids and adults. 

Best foods for ADHD

To help alleviate the symptoms that affect your child’s development and well-being, consider the following ADHD diet recommendations:


Foods rich in protein produce neurotransmitters, chemicals released by the brain cells to communicate with each other. 

The consumption of foods with protein helps to control the surges in blood sugar, thus controlling hyperactivity and impulsivity. 

Some examples of protein-rich foods include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, soy, nuts and other dairy products. Ideally, it is recommended to start with a breakfast rich in proteins and find creative options to include lean proteins throughout the day.

Vitamins and minerals

It is essential to include the right amount of minerals and vitamins in your child’s diet, as it can help with improving attention and alertness. Healthy options include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Healthy fats

Fat is essential for energy and cell growth. A selection of fat-rich foods like avocado, seeds, nuts and oils can help manage the symptoms of ADHD. 

Essential fatty acids fuel basic cell functioning, improve overall immunity, and enhance heart health. Walnuts, salmon, chia seeds, flaxseeds and the like can contribute to adding mega-3 fatty acids to the diet.

Worst foods for ADHD

Just as there are foods good for ADHD, there are also ingredients that you would do well to restrict from your child’s diet:

Artificial colors and preservatives

The consumption of food with artificial food coloring and preservatives has been shown to be a trigger among children with ADHD. Kids consuming these foods are often hyperactive. 

To regulate ADHD, foods kids need to avoid include sodas, sorbets, salad dressings, cereals and candies, icing, pickles, gelatin desserts, ice creams and other sugary and highly processed treats.

Potential allergens

For kids sensitive to dairy and nuts, it is best to avoid food containing these allergens to regulate their behavior.

Consider different approaches to manage ADHD symptoms

It is likely that multiple factors may be at play regarding environmental exposures and ADHD, and dietary exposure effects may be multifactorial as well. 

Apart from maintaining a well-balanced diet and taking supplements and medication, another proven way to regulate ADHD behavior is to use electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback. EEG biofeedback is a type of neurotherapy that measures brain waves and is a promising treatment for ADHD.

If you want to know more about the best ADHD treatment in Dubai, write to us! Our neuro-experts use EEG to monitor your brainwaves and give you feedback to produce long-term changes in brain patterns, leading to better focus and motivation.

Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.

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