Different diets aggravate hyperactivity in different ADHD children. You need time and patient experimentation to find the particular food items responsible for some of the symptoms in your child and eliminate them from the child’s diet. You may try by eliminating some common foods and then introducing them back one at a time to see if any one of them leads to problems.
You could also check with the child’s teacher to see if they have observed any changes in the behaviour of your child. Here are some of the diets that can be tried.
Diet for ADHA Children
Artificial Colourings and Additives
Several studies have shown that synthetic flavours, dyes and additives cause problems in some children. So, to start with, you could eliminate only foods (including also vitamins, toothpastes and drugs) that have artificial colourings. Usually, commercial preparations and junk food tend to be the culprits.
The evidence for artificial colouring agents being responsible for some symptoms of ADHD is substantial enough that in Britain, food manufacturers have been urged to remove 6 artificial colouring agents from the food that is aimed at children. You also could eliminate such items as junk food, candy, brightly-coloured cereals, soda and fruit drinks, which tend to contain artificial colours and additives, for some weeks, to observe if the symptoms improve.
If elimination of artificial colourings and additives does not lead to improvement in the symptoms, then put your child on the Feingold diet. This diet eliminates more additives and also foods that contain salicylate. Feingold diet eliminates artificial colourings (like Yellow 5 and Red 40 – given on food labels), artificial flavourings (including vanillin), artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin and sucralose) and preservatives (BHT, BHA and TBHQ).
This diet also eliminates certain vegetables and fruits. You can start adding back items to see if the child is sensitive to them, so that you can decide which ones to eliminate permanently. Do check the ingredients of the food you order at restaurants.
Complete Feingold Diet
If the Feingold diet does not lead to satisfactory improvement in the child, you can try the complete version of the Feingold diet, which eliminates in addition corn syrup and sugar (as found in sweetened foods and soft drinks), monosodium glutamate, hydrolysed vegetable protein, sodium nitrite (in some luncheon meats) and calcium propionate (baked goods). After a few weeks, you can experiment with adding back one item at a time to find out the ones to which the child is sensitive.
If still no improvement is seen, then you can try the few-foods diet. In this diet there are more restrictions.
The foods that may need to be avoided in this diet, in addition to artificial colourings and additives, include wheat, milk and dairy products, eggs, chocolate, soybeans, tofu, and corn syrup and sugar.
Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There is some evidence, but it is not very strong, that omega-3 fatty acid consumption can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. So, there is no harm in increasing its consumption because it has also other health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are contained in fish like salmon (230 mg in 100 g), sardines (220 mg in 100 g), herring (160 mg in 100 g) and tuna (160 mg in 100 g). They can also be had in flaxseed oil (mix it in certain foods) and walnuts. Some breads and milks are enriched with omega-3.
Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals)
Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals (particularly vitamin B6, iron, zinc and magnesium) have been found in some children suffering from ADHD. So, vitamin or mineral supplements may help in such cases where these deficiencies are found.