The Connection Between Adult ADHD and Your Weight
There is a great deal written about Adult ADHD: how to organize your home, your workplace, how to be better at time management or to better communicate. But there is little written about why ADHD impacts your diet and your nutritional choices, why ADHD symptoms may be a cause or at least a partial reason for being overweight or being obese.
In a previous post, "ADHD and Obesity: Is There a Link?", Terry Matlen discusses a study published in Eating and Weight Disorders Journal. This study showed a high incidence rate of ADHD in women who were obese. Researchers had originally observed that many obese clients had difficulty with keeping accurate records of diet planning and eating patterns, had difficulty following through with a diet and did not exercise regularly.
Making healthy food choices and exercising on a regular basis, can, however, help to improve ADHD symptoms for many people. Below are five tips to help you manage your eating habits and work toward a healthier lifestyle:
When involved in a project, set a timer to stop and eat a small meal every two hours. Some adults with ADHD indicate they become distracted or hyperfocused on a task and do not pay attention to feelings of hunger. When they finally succumb to eating, they feel so famished they overeat. Eating more small meals throughout the day has been found to help in weight loss.
Have healthy foods available at work. Many workplaces have vending machines or fast-food restaurants nearby, making it easy to forget your lunch or go out for an unplanned lunch, but usually these are high calorie, unhealthy foods. Instead, have a variety of healthy foods available at work, such as protein bars, dried fruit, unsalted nuts. These types of foods can last for months in sealed containers. If you have a refrigerator at work, you can include long-lasting items such as yogurt or fruit. You will be less tempted to give in to the junk food in the vending machine if you have healthy alternatives nearby. You may even be able to speak with the human resources department at work and request health alternatives, such as juice and bottled water, protein bars, dried fruits and nuts be included in the vending machines.
Change how and where you eat. Pay attention to whether overeating is attached to a certain place or situation. Maybe you overeat when sitting in the lunch room with your co-workers or maybe you overeat when watching television at night. Changing where you eat, such as taking your lunch and eating outside during the nice weather or finding a hobby to do instead of watching television every night can help you change how you think about food.
Try to change one thing at a time. It is hard to make complete changes in your diet and eating habits, and even harder when you have family and friends who are not interested in a healthier lifestyle, but you may begin to make small changes. Use whole wheat bread instead of white, replace cookies with rice cakes or dried fruit. As you and your family get used to the one change, add another until your diet includes healthy choices.
Assess your habits and choose one that can be changed. It may be reaching for the cookies to snack on or grabbing a quick dinner (but high in calories) on the way home because you never got around to going grocery shopping. It may be impulsively buying the gourmet cakes as you walk by in the store. Try to figure out your weaknesses and which ones are causing the most problem. Rather than overwhelming yourself trying to change your entire lifestyle, work on one area. Go into the grocery store through a different door or stop at the grocery store instead of the fast food restaurant on your way home.
Often, well planned diets end up failing for adults with ADHD, either their lack of planning skills or their inability to follow through can destroy even the best of intentions. Making healthy choices and creating a healthy lifestyle can be much more effective.
For more information:
"Diet and Weight Management Strategies for Adults with ADD (ADHD)", Date Unknown, Kathleen G. Nadeau, PhD., ADDvance.com
"Self-Help for Adult ADD/ADHD", Reviewed 2010, Feb, Jocelyn Block, M.A., Melinda Smith, M.A., HelpGuide.org