Because behavioral problems are so idiosyncratic, parents can find themselves in a maze of potential treatments. Diet is viewed as an alternative treatment but because the behavior of people brain chemistry imbalance causes are so complex, parents who opt for diet therapy must be ready for a long, and sometimes frustrating, process of trial and error.
What works for one child, may not necessarily work for another. Others may need to do many shifts in factors of the diet, while for others only a few modifications are needed. That said, the rewards can be huge – even if a child may have to take medication for years to control symptoms. With enough patience and effort, many parents end up with something closer to a cure.
The first thing to do is to check for food allergies and sensitivities. The link between allergies and ADHD can be confusing for parents. After all, how can sensitivity to dairy products make a child hyperactive, spacey, or have tics? The chemicals released when we have an allergic reaction acts as a neurotransmitter causes a chain reaction that can cause all sorts behavior change.
An allergist can be consulted regarding dietary allergy culprits. At home, you can try removing foods you suspect cause trouble from you child’s diet for several weeks, and then slowly add the foods back to see if they cause behavior issues. There is also the widely known Feingold diet for ADD and ADHD that zeroes in on additives and preservatives that might not necessarily show up on tests for allergies.
Besides allergic reactions and sensitivities, many children with Attention Deficit Disorder, autism, Down syndrome, Tourettes and other disorders were found to suffer from dramatic deficiencies from certain nutrients, including magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. Some studies have shown this and researchers have recently begun to monitor to see if replacing these missing nutrients can correct behavior problems. In recent studies of children with ADHD, zinc supplementation beat placebo in the treatment of certain aspects of the disease, including hyperactivity and impulsivity.
When an ADD/ADHD diet is started, parents often find it nearly impossible to get their child to eat enough of the good foods for ADD and ADHD to meet the nutritional requirements, especially if the child is a picky eater. Supplementing the diet with a good supplement specifically formulated for attention deficit problems can fill the nutritional gaps. There are supplements that experts and parents recommend for children with ADHD, Tourettes, obsessive-compulsive and other behavioral problems that are available in health food stores and also online.
Consulting with other parents of ADHD kids who have tried dietary treatment measure may be very beneficial. There are newsletters, forums and support organization for children with ADHD and other behavioral disorders. Also, find a doctor experienced in alternative nutritional therapies. The doctor will probably start by testing the child’s nutritional deficiencies, to develop and monitor a plan to deal with them, usually a combination of dietary changes and additions.