ADHD and Weight

Did you know that if have ADHD you are more likely to be overweight or obese than your non-ADHD peers?  In her book ‘Natural Relief for Adult ADHD,’ Stephanie Sarkis explains there is a higher rate of diabetes in adults with ADHD, which can be a result of unhealthy food choices. 

Hallmark characteristics of ADHD mean that eating to maintain a healthy weight and ward off unwanted diseases can be difficult.

For example, you might impulsively eat a donut and only later remember your health goals. 

Here are 6 do’s and don’ts to help you maintain a healthy weight.

1) Do eat regular meals

You might find that ADHD medication suppresses your appetite or that you are hyperfocused on an activity and don’t notice hunger pangs. When your medication has worn off, or you come out of hyperfocus mode, you are ravenous and eat whatever food is nearest. Not eating for long periods can make ADHD symptoms worse, including your ability to pay attention and concentrate.  Set an alarm on your phone to ring every 4 hours. This will remind you to eat and avoid going for long periods of time without food. 

2) Don’t eat all the time

While some people with ADHD go for long periods of time without eating, others eat all day long. For example, a slice of birthday cake at work,  a handful of nuts an hour later followed by an energy drink a little later.

You might have developed this habit because you are bored, stressed or anxious. When you graze all day, it is harder to monitor how much you are consuming and easier to make unhealthy food choices.  Have a breakfast, lunch and dinner instead.

3) Do eat breakfast

Many people with ADHD don’t eat breakfast.

Mornings can be chaotic, struggling to wake up, rushing to get to work on time and remembering important items for the day. Some people report  that they aren’t hungry in the morning, while others feel that there is no time to eat. However, studies found that people who ate breakfast were able to lose weight and maintain the weight loss. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier, or pack a breakfast ‘to go’. This way you can still eat breakfast even if you aren’t a morning person.

4) Do practice mindful eating

Practice mindfulness and be present in the moment when you are eating.  If you are distracted when you eat such as watching TV or chatting on the phone, you won’t be in touch with the messages your body is sending  that your hunger is satisfied. 

5) Do exercise regularly

Combining exercise with healthy eating  is an excellent way to be physically fit and healthy now and in the future. Regular exercise is also very helpful in treating and managing your ADHD symptoms. Pick an exercise you enjoy doing, and make a personal commitment to do it every day.

6) Do set daily reminders to remember your goals

Living with ADHD means it is easy to forget your goals, including your goal to be healthy. Set up a daily habit to remind yourself why you want to lose weight or be physically fit. Take a few minutes every day to remember your short term and long term goals.  Then visualize yourself going through your day eating breakfast, saying no to temptations at work and going to your exercise class. Also visualize yourself 20 years from now  being active with your loved ones. This new habit will keep you on track.

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