Discovering non-pharmaceutical treatments for managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children has been a focus of many parents and healthcare providers aiming for holistic well-being. Since the 1970s, the concept of an ADHD-specific diet for kids has emerged as a promising avenue to alleviate the challenging symptoms associated with this condition. Coupled with natural remedies and educational strategies, this dietary approach offers a comprehensive method for supporting children affected by ADHD.

Benjamin Feingold’s Pioneering Work

The initial connection between diet and ADHD symptoms was established by pediatrician Benjamin Feingold in the 1970s. Feingold’s groundbreaking hypothesis suggested that certain dietary elements, particularly refined sugars and processed foods, have a direct impact on children’s behavior and cognitive functions. His observations led to the development of the Feingold diet, which emphasizes the elimination of artificial additives, colors, and flavors believed to exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

The Role of Processed Foods and Additives

Feingold’s research highlighted the negative effects of processed foods and artificial additives on children’s health, noting that these substances can trigger sensitivities or allergic reactions in individuals with ADHD. This revelation has paved the way for natural health practitioners to recommend diets that minimize the intake of artificial ingredients, advocating instead for natural and organic food choices.

Adopting a Holistic ADHD Management Strategy

Modern naturopathic doctors and holistic health practitioners often incorporate dietary modifications as a core component of ADHD management. The recommended ADHD diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods, with an emphasis on organic produce to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and additives. This nutritional strategy is frequently combined with other natural interventions, such as herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, behavioral therapy, and skills training, to offer a well-rounded approach to managing ADHD symptoms.

Navigating the World of Health Foods

Contrary to common concerns, adopting an ADHD-friendly diet does not necessitate extensive meal preparation from scratch. Many grocery stores now feature health food sections, offering a variety of products catering to dietary restrictions and preferences. These include pre-prepared options that are free from common allergens and artificial additives, making it easier for parents to provide nutritious meals without the hassle of time-consuming food preparation.


The concept of an ADHD diet for children, rooted in the pioneering work of Benjamin Feingold, continues to gain traction among those seeking alternative treatments for ADHD. By focusing on natural foods and eliminating artificial additives, parents and health practitioners can work together to support children’s health and well-being, offering a promising complement to traditional ADHD therapies. This holistic approach, combining dietary strategies with other natural remedies and educational techniques, offers a hopeful pathway for managing ADHD symptoms in a more natural and health-conscious manner.

FAQ on ADHD Diet For Kids

What is the Feingold diet and how does it relate to ADHD?

The Feingold diet is a food elimination plan developed by Dr. Benjamin Feingold in the 1970s. It targets the removal of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and certain natural substances that can trigger hyperactivity and attention difficulties in some children. This diet is based on the premise that certain food additives and salicylates (chemicals found in various fruits and vegetables) can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. By eliminating these substances, parents and caregivers aim to reduce or manage the behavioral and cognitive symptoms associated with ADHD in children.

Can dietary changes improve ADHD symptoms in children?

Yes, dietary changes can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms in some children. While not a cure-all, modifications in diet, such as reducing sugar intake, avoiding artificial additives, and increasing the consumption of whole, nutrient-rich foods, have been reported to improve focus, reduce hyperactivity, and enhance overall behavior in children with ADHD. However, the effectiveness of dietary changes can vary from child to child, and it’s important to approach dietary modifications under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

What are some common food additives that should be avoided in an ADHD diet?

In an ADHD diet, it’s recommended to avoid food additives that are known to potentially worsen ADHD symptoms. These include artificial colors (e.g., Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5), artificial flavors, preservatives (e.g., sodium benzoate), and artificial sweeteners. Additionally, some suggest limiting foods that contain high levels of salicylates and eliminating processed foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Are there any herbal remedies recommended alongside an ADHD diet?

Yes, alongside an ADHD-friendly diet, some herbal remedies are suggested to help manage symptoms. These can include herbs known for their calming effects such as lemon balm, valerian root, and chamomile. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, derived from fish oil or flaxseed oil, are also recommended for their potential benefits in improving cognitive function and behavior in children with ADHD. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any herbal or supplement regimen to ensure safety and appropriateness for the child’s specific needs.

How can parents easily integrate an ADHD-friendly diet into their child’s routine?

Integrating an ADHD-friendly diet into a child’s routine can begin with small, manageable changes such as incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into meals, while gradually reducing the intake of processed foods and snacks high in artificial additives. Planning meals and snacks ahead of time, involving children in food selection and preparation, and focusing on the nutritional value of foods rather than restrictions can also make the transition smoother. Finding healthy, ready-to-eat options in health food sections of grocery stores can further simplify adherence to an ADHD-friendly diet.

What other non-dietary approaches can support the effectiveness of an ADHD diet?

Alongside dietary changes, other non-dietary approaches can enhance the management of ADHD symptoms. These include behavioral therapy, which helps children develop coping mechanisms and social skills, and educational interventions that provide structured learning environments tailored to their needs. Physical activity is also important, as regular exercise can improve focus, mood, and overall health. Finally, ensuring adequate sleep and a consistent routine can further support the well-being of children with ADHD.

Exploring a Nutritional Approach to Managing ADHD in Children: Does Diet Play a Role?

This comprehensive look at the ADHD diet for children not only covers dietary adjustments but also emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach that includes herbal remedies, behavioral strategies, and other supportive practices. By considering the individual needs of each child and consulting with healthcare professionals, parents can effectively integrate these strategies into their child’s life, potentially reducing ADHD symptoms and enhancing their child’s overall well-being.