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75 Meal Ideas for an ADHD Diet

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I noticed early on in my motherhood how food really affected my kids. Feeding my kids healthy food was a thing way before they were diagnosed with ADHD.

Now that we are 8 years into an ADHD diagnosis, we do our best to follow an ADHD Diet.

People often ask me, what do you feed your kids? They are curious about how I get my kids to eat healthy and stick to what can appear to be a very limited diet. 

I wanted to show you how easy this is…I am not a gourmet cook, we are on a budget, and I work full time.  

Before we get to the the meal ideas for an ADHD diet, let’s go over the basics of an ADHD Diet:

What is an ADHD diet and does it really work?

Countless studies have been done with results that show following an ADHD diet does really help lessen the symptoms of ADHD. In some cases, drastically

With so much confusion about food, it’s no wonder that people are stumped. We are fed mixed messages from advertisers. Words like “natural” are used on soda bottles and candy bars. Fruit Loops are labeled “heart-healthy”.

Hands down following an ADHD Diet is the thing we do that makes the biggest difference in both my boys. They are calmer, sleep better, and have fewer emotional melt downs.

When you think about all the processed and pesticide laden foods we consume as a country, it’s no wonder many kids are struggling with behavior and learning difficulties. 

Because my boys do not have any food allergies, we can waiver from this diet on occasion – we do enjoy birthday cake and a rare trip for ice cream.  This actually helps us to stay the course most of the time.

Just what foods do we stay away from? Here’s the basics of the ADHD diet which are backed by lots of science.

Gluten free

Lots of people are getting on the gluten free band wagon….and for good reason.
Gluten has been directly linked to ADHD and studies show an improvement in ADHD symptoms when a gluten free diet is followed.

But be careful, just because a food is labeled gluten free does not mean it’s good for you. Many gluten free products are highly processed, have corn or  white rice flour, which acts like sugar in our system(see below). Read your labels and check out grain free options, as well. 

Corn free

We stay away from corn for many reasons. 

This uber popular american food has been modified so much it’s nothing like what our parents ate.  

And gosh, darn, corn is in everything.  There are so many processed byproducts of corn found in packaged foods, the list is hard to keep up with. Here’s some to watch out for:

  • dextrin
  • dextrose
  • maltodextrin
  • maltodextrose
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn starch
  • modified starch
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • xanthum gum
  • guar gum
  • sorbitol
  • xylitol
  • msg
  • GDL

Genetically modified corn is engineered to contain it’s own insecticide.  Simply put, when bugs eat the plant, their stomach explodes and they die. That’s not a plant I want to put in my body, let alone my kids. 

And with gut health now being linked to ADHD, we stay far away from most corn.

If you love corn, look for organic corn! It’s not genetically modified and free from all the pesticides!!

Dye free

Food dyes, especially Red#40 have been linked to hyperactivity in children. The food companies and the government say the studies are inconclusive and continue to market food containing all sort of dyes to children. 

But, to me, its common sense. Food that contains these dyes are also laden with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and other processed ingredients. 

Why wouldn’t any family want to stay away from them whether they follow an ADHD diet or not?

Dairy Free

Studies in several countries around the world show that milk is one of the most common food allergens. In fact cows milk contains about 20 different protein components which can cause reactions in children.

A long term study in The Netherlands found that all but one of the ADHD children participating improved in both behavior and attention when fed a dairy free diet.

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Other stuff we include in our ADHD diet

  • Complex carbs such as apples and sweet potatoes raise serotonin levels without the crash.
  • Drink plenty of water. The brain is 80% water, so keep it happy with lots of plain water.
  • Choose organic when you can. Glyphosate(Round Up) is increasingly shown to be linked to the rise in ADHD.  The destruction starts in the gut – which we know is really our second brain
  • Steer clear of GMO’s. Genetically modified food is bad news.  I do not want scientists creating my food, when mother nature does such a great job. 
  • Choose real food over processed. When you eat real food, you automatically avoid all the chemicals used to process and keep food shelf stable.  Who wants to be eating things they can not even pronounce?
  • Up your vegetable and fruit intake.Fruits and veg are filled with all sorts of great fiber, vitamins, minerals, probiotics to feed your good gut bacteria
  • Take great supplements  to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Some of My favorite ADHD Diet Food Resources:  

Here’s a few awesome resources that make following an ADHD Diet so much easier!!

Kitchen Stewardship cookbooks by Katie Kimball are the BEST.  I own all seven of them and have used them weekly for literally 6 years and counting.

Imperfect Produce – this company delivers organic produce weekly to your door. It’s how I stay on budget and get organic produce.  Use this link to get 10 bucks off (and give me a credit at the same time, thank you!!)

I love Plan Simple Meals for inspiration….great book, too!!

I have had this chopper for 14 years….seriously one of my most used kitchen items! Plus my kids love to use it – and I can use all the help I can get!

75 + easy meals that follow an ADHD diet

I am categorizing these meal ideas by our staples: eggs, pasta, potatoes, oats, almond/coconut flour, ground beef and fruits and vegetables.

 We often mix things up…dinner leftovers for breakfast, eggs for dinner….I believe good tasting, healthy food can be eaten anytime of the day.

***Save time and just follow my ADHD Diet Pinterest Board***

Links are provided when they are not self explanatory. Raw fruit and veg are on the table for every meal.

I love easy, so let’s start with:

Super Easy, No Prep ADHD Diet Faves

  • Hummus on toast, topped with sunflower seeds and olives
  • Hummus on toast with walnuts and green olives
  • Sun butter and apple slices
  • Peanut butter and raisin sandwich
  • Coconut milk yogurt and fruit
  • Nut butter on gluten free bread
  • A big chunk of grass fed butter on toasted gluten free bread
  • Grain free granola (look at CostCo for the cheapest store-bought version) with almond milk
  • Veggie burgers atop a salad or sometimes with Gluten free buns, lettuce and tomato
  • Left over oatmeal topped with fruit, nut butter, raisins, coconut….like a sundae!

ADHD Diet Faves made with EGGS

  • Scrambled eggs and bacon
  • Scrambled eggs and bacon on toast
  • Egg muffins with pepperoni and olives and fruit
  • Egg and Banana pancakes – we use these like bread later in the week with nut butter for school lunches.
  • Sweet Potato and Egg Pancakes
  • Hardboiled Eggs and Frozen Blueberries(not mixed! Just two yummy and easy separates that we’ve eaten for countless breakfasts.)
  • Easy Egg Bake with Veggies – scramble 12 eggs and throw in any veg in your fridge. Bake at 350″ until brown on the edges. Soo easy!
  • Avocado Egg Salad – clever way to make this favorite really creamy.
  • Toad in the Hole – a childhood favorite of mine and now of my kids!
  • Turkey Sausage Egg Bake – so hearty and protein packed
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ADHD Diet Faves With Sweet Potatoes

We mostly eat sweet potatoes( great for gut health, brain function and immune system) and eat the white version every once in awhile….but my kids love the white potatoes so much that I sometimes mix them in with the sweet to satisfy us both. 

  • West African Peanut Stew – pictured above, it’s a family favorite even though my kids tend to pick out the kale!
  • Apple and Sweet Potato Hash
  • Apple, Potato and Sausage Hash
  • Roasted Sweet and Plain potatoes with onions, carrots and sausage
  • Potacos – this is our concoction. We add ground beef, salsa, and shredded lettuce on top of roasted white potatoes. Hands down my kids favorite – I make a huge batch and we eat this two nights in a row at least every other week!!
  • Mashed Potato Bowls – Mashed sweet, regular potato and cauliflower (equal parts of each) topped with sausage or ground beef and whatever veggies I have on hand.
  • Vegetarian Quinoa Chili(I add diced sweet potatoes) from Kitchen Stewardship
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Bake – one of my favorites. I take leftovers to work.

ADHD Diet Faves made with oatmeal:

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ADHD Diet Faves Made with Nut/Coconut flour

ADHD Diet Faves made with pasta

ADHD Diet Faves made with grass fed ground beef

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ADHD Diet Faves made with fruit and veg:

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ADHD Diet sweet treats

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How I meal plan for an ADHD Diet

I always shop my pantry first to see what I have already.  Planning with those items first usually takes care of several dinners.

My big, three-ring binder holds print outs of my favorite recipes ( I am forever adding new ones and taking out one’s we grow tired of.)

Each week, I flip through and take out the pages of what I want to make that week and keep them in the very front of the binder so I can figure my shopping list from them.  

Favorite Tip: Nearly every meal starts with a plate of fruits and veg, olives and pickles so I am sure they will eat the good stuff when they are hungry. (Thanks for the tip Katie Kimball)

I hope this post helped….I am passionate about sharing what works for raising kids with ADHD. Let me know which recipes you try!Share any of your tips in the comments, I’d love to hear what’s working for you!!

Need more help with ADHD?

Read about how much a weighted blanket helps my son to sleep like a baby again.

Find great ideas for packing an ADHD Lunch, HERE.

Sugar is pretty bad for ADHD.  Read the startling facts, HERE.

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  1. I have four boys…all with diff issues. One is ADHD, one is just ADD and the other two have strong sensory issues. They are the tougher ones. I am going to try this stuff and see how things go. I’m willing to try anything OTHER than meds. Those things are awful. I wanted to ask though…you mention eating ground beef as one of your staples. Do you not eat chicken, pork or fish? Do they have a diff affect on the kiddos? Thanks for your post!!

    1. Hi Aimee! Thanks for your question. My older son will not eat chicken or pork at all, so I rarely cook it. The one thing I can count on for him is ground beef – which is why so many of those recipes call for it! Good luck, let me know which is your favorite!!

  2. I found your site being bookmarked in one of the social sites. I’m glad I visited it. Interesting articles you have here.

  3. Thank you for lots of great ideas here. I work full time too, half from home though so have more time than some. We are a bit more country and grow a huge garden. I don’t mind corn for us but much of it our own homegrown. We have chickens and plenty of fresh eggs so appreciate all of your egg ideas. We don’t eat red meat much so most meat is chicken, turkey, some fish or shrimp Pork or beef roast every once in a great while. I don’t eat hamburger or hot dogs ever-just don’t like them. My kiddos were never that picky so that part is fairly easy for us. We work hard at limiting sugar but like you, we allow a treat now and again. We eat a lot of all vegetables and I try hard to limit any kind of processed food. Mostly home cooking from scratch and often our homegrown stuff. I’m ADHD, husband is ADD and all the kids have one or the other except my youngest which is one poor neurtypical stuck in a house of anything but.

    1. You are very welcome Jayne. I am jealous of your garden!! We have a small garden which I get enormous pleasure out of! Sometimes it fails because some pest takes over, but we do get a fair share of veg out of it. Chickens!! So great!! What’s your favorite egg recipe? We eat a TON of eggs. : )

  4. I’ve been reading and taking notes of your blog for a few weeks now. My son has ADHD, sensory processing issues, and ODD. He is a very picky eater!!! The only vegetable he will eat I is peas, and green beans. Any tips for super picky kids? My son is very small for his age so I worry about his nutrition.

    1. Hi Melissa! My kids seem to be getting pickier as they get older! We do a lot of smoothies in this house now….I find I can get lots of different things seemlessly into a smoothie. I started very sweet – mostly bananas and frozen avocado, then slowly added kale, cauliflower, carrots, etc. They have gotten used to it not being so sweet. We love Sunwarrior protein powder which has lots of vits and minerals in it. Can you chop the veggies up super small – confetti sized and mix in a meatloaf or with rice? We mix pumpkin into just about every baked good I make, too. Start slow – you can even add mct oil into smoothies.
      Let me know how things go!

  5. I came across your article on Pinterest and was reading through your adhd diet. So basically it’s like a clean eating diet right except you include pasta? Do you have a foods list of the stuff you eat to help? We think our daughter has adhd but I don’t want her on meds and want to do it naturally.

    1. HI Heidi! I started taking out gluten and dairy when I noticed my kids – especially my oldest – getting super hyper and out of sorts after eating it. Diet is such an individual thing, but people find a lot of success by staying away from those things. Yes, we do have some gluten free pasta in our diet – I aim for the pastas made from bean flour and nothing else. But, I also try not to have lots of processed foods of any sorts – or super minimally. The Feingold diet is a good one to try as well. They have an association you can join or just research it online. It avoids dyes and preservatives – which can be found in sooo many processed foods. Stay in touch and let me know how it’s going.

  6. Thanks ! Such good info
    I did not xylitol is in the multi vitamin ingredients. Maybe just a low amount

  7. Do you have a brand of coconut yogurt you recommend? Most of the ones I have found still have some undesirable ingredients. My six year old was just diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and anxiety. We would like to avoid medication if possible. I have been devouring your content and ordered some of the suggested supplements to try. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Terri, My kids like Kite Hill Yogurt and Trader Joe’s Cashew Yogurt….they are very picky about their texture. Glad you found us!!!

  8. What is the name of the healthy bars and meat sticks you get from Amazon?

  9. I’m glad to have found this site, you’ve done all the leg work I was just about to embark on. I’ve read like 10 of your articles this afternoon and am inspired to get started making changes.

    You said to start slow, and do what seems easiest. What do you think is generally the easiest/most effective thing? Eg, dropping all sugar, changing to organic foods, adding ground flax seed, etc?

    I have 3, maybe 4 members with ADHD, including my husband, and our food habits are pretty formed, so I’m wondering what’ll have the biggest bang for the buck so to speak.

    Thanks for sharing all you have, I’ll be back many times I’m sure.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for your note. Every person is different, but it has been my experience, as a mom and a teacher of 25 years, that eliminating processed foods – with all those artificial dyes and preservatives can be a big bang for your buck. Find a few meals your family loves and serve those often…You don’t even have to really announce the change, either….kids might get nervous and suspicious….just start finding better options that they love! If they seem interested, start reading food labels and be detectives. And remember, you do not have to be perfect! It is a process. Check in and let me know how it’s going!

  10. Kim Treneman-Pape says:

    I was wondering what brand of gluten free bread you use. It is so expensive! I’ve tried Aldi and Trader Joe’s brands. I don’t like the taste of either.

    I love Daiya macaroni and cheese! It is gluten free and dairy free. It is expensive though. I Love Mac and cheese!
    I believe you said you get your pasta at either Aldi or Trader Joe’s. I like Trader Joe’s quinoa flour. Aldi is cheaper (sometimes they don’t have the GF spaghetti).
    My son and husband will Not eat quinoa! I eat it for breakfast and/or lunch.
    I use to use brown rice flour. Now I use millet flour. It is difficult to find. I’m going to need to look for it on line.
    My son eats a lot of Aldi brand “Cheerios” and cows milk. He uses cereal as a snack. He goes through a Lot of milk! I’ve struggled to find alternatives he will eat.
    This post will help me immensely. Thank you!
    My so and husband eat what I call gluten full. Sometimes I fix separate meals for myself.

    1. HI Kim!! Yes, bread is expensive!! We do mostly Trader Joe’s gluten free bread and also buy O’Doughs from a local health food store. I have also made it myself with great success, but it does take time. I got the recipe from the LoopyWhisk on Instagram. I make a lot of gluten free baking items that can stand in for bread, too. I love Katie Kimballs recipe books for her bard, bread and cookies that I make with super low sugar.

  11. Kira Calvert says:

    If you cut out dairy how do you snack on salami and cheese? Or use whole milk yogurt? Is it just dairy ad a drink you cut out and if so, what would you recommend as a replacement? Oat milk? Almond milk? I’m loving all the recipes you provide and am moving them all into my recipes so I can have them at my fingertips and begin rotating them into my meal planning. I have 2 boys with ADHD and a girl who could use help focusing as well. The boys are on meds but I would love to get them off of them. I also have some of the supplements you suggested in an Amazon cart. Thank you for providing such a plethora of information here!

    1. Hi Kira! My boys have been off and on dairy over the years. Now in their teens, they seem to tolerate it more, so I do buy high quality cheese on occasion. But definitely go with what works for you. My kids both liked Miyokos sliced cheese, but it’s expensive and hard to find. Yes, the yogurt in the oats was always organic, too. But, I often used water and a bit of lemon juice that did the same thing as the yogurt. : ) Let me know if you try it….it was our standard for years!!!!

  12. Thank you for providing this useful information, however I tried a fee links and they led to questionable web pages.