Courtesy of Anita Fernandes of Everyday Health
Getting kids to eat healthy is one of the biggest challenges for most parents. This gets even tougher when your kids suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. It’s a battle that’s well worth fighting however, as certain foods and nutrients can improve your child’s moods, focus, and concentration. Although food choices are not linked to the onset of the condition and are not the only risk factor for symptoms, nutrition plays a key role in childhood development. This becomes even more critical for children with ADHD because of the challenges that they face. Fortunately, there are plenty of snacking options for kids with ADHD and here are 5 snacks that I find striking the right balance between convenience and nutrition.
5 Health Snacks for Kids with ADHD
- Fruit Shakes & Smoothies
Fresh fruits and veggies feature in any and every healthy eating list for obvious reasons. They’re nutritionally dense and low in calories, giving you a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these nutrients are essential for health and should be included in any child’s ADHD diet. As many parents struggle to get their kids to eat their fruits and veggies, the simplest solution is to make your own fruit shakes and smoothies with fresh fruit like bananas, peaches, mangoes. You can also add in leafy greens like kale, as well as yogurt, and flaxseeds to improve the nutritional value of the snack.
- Tuna Stuffed Avocados
Tuna is one of the best natural sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain health and nerve cell function. They’re also a good source of protein, which is also recommended for kids with ADHD. Avocados are also nutritionally complex, containing a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid. To give your child the rich nutrition of both foods, simply prepare your own healthy tuna salad and use it as a stuffing after you take out the seed and some pulp from an avocado. You can even flavor it with healthy herbs and spices like turmeric and saffron. Studies show that increased intake of omega-3s from fatty fish like tuna and salmon may reduce ADHD symptoms by as much as 50%.
- Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!
It doesn’t matter how you have them – boiled, scrambled, or fried sunny side up. Eggs are regarded as extremely healthy for anyone with ADHD because of their high protein content. Protein is extremely important because it’s essential for healthy brain function, playing a role in the production of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. High protein intake can also reduce ADHD symptoms as it reduces the risk of spikes in blood sugar levels. In addition, eggs are nutritionally rich, containing important minerals and vitamins such as vitamins D, B6, B12, and zinc, copper, and iron. We know from research that ADHD symptoms may be reduced by focusing on lean protein sources, rather than fatty foods like red meats, hamburger, or fries.
- Dried Fruits and Nuts
Nothing’s more convenient than good old trail mix, but to keep it healthy for a child with ADHD, you should make your own trail mix at home. By doing so, you can eliminate the unhealthy sugar-rich ingredients like chocolate chips and candies, focusing on the dried fruits and nuts. While nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts provide you with protein and healthy fats, dried fruits are a good source of dietary fiber. Although dried fruits and nuts can be high in calories when consumed in large portions, you can moderate your child’s intake. Besides, kids with ADHD tend to have higher caloric requirements because of their hyperactivity.
- Whole-Wheat Crackers or Pretzels
Not every snack has to be super healthy as you need to address childhood food cravings. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should allow your child to snack on unhealthy potato chips, but you can find a middle ground. Whole wheat crackers, pretzels, and baked chips can satisfy your child’s appetite for crunchy savory food. Similarly, popcorn is another kids’ favorite and you can opt for healthier varieties like hot-air popcorn. These foods have higher fiber content and should pacify your child’s food cravings and hunger.
As you can see, most of these ADHD friendly snack ideas are pretty simple and can be easily tweaked. What’s important is the nutritional content of the snacks, rather than the snacks themselves. You can experiment to find healthy variants of your child’s favorite foods or try other ADHD snack options like hummus on pita, veggie fingers with dips, and so on. Just remember, kids learn best from their mums, so lead by example and start taking care of your health too.
Author’s Bio: Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.