When you hear the term ADHD you probably have images of fidgeting children bouncing off the walls; what we usually do not picture is the person who is still suffering as an adult, where the symptoms can put jobs and relationships in jeopardy, and lead to a host of other problems, such as financial difficulties. At this point there is no ‘’cure’’ and the name of the game is symptom management ;if you are interested in maximizing your control over this condition, you may want to consider augmenting your conventional treatments, such as medications and behavior modifications, with natural strategies. Here is some information to get you started on that path.
The role of diet and ADHD is a matter of debate, but studies have shed some light on how food may impact symptoms—not every intervention may work for every person, but it certainly cannot hurt to experiment. First things first—eat a healthy breakfast every day that is rich in protein; it can improve cognitive functioning and may help medications work more effectively. The suggestion of eliminating artificial additives and food colorings dates back to the 1970’s, and more recent research suggests that this may work in certain subsets of ADHD sufferers, but probably not as a wide scale treatment that will benefit everyone across the board—if you suffer from other allergies and sensitivities, in particular, this may be a helpful intervention. The same goes for cutting out common allergens, such as gluten and dairy. One of the most important things you can do is eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains (avoid wheat if you suspect gluten intolerance or sensitivity), low-fat proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables—boring I know, but large-scale studies have found that eating in this manner is associated with significant reductions in ADHD symptoms. While adding certain foods or supplements to your diet may help, focus on eating well and stop looking for the miracle diet plans and magic foods.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and while it is a core component of many spiritual practices, it is essentially a secular, practical tool that can benefit anyone regardless of your religious bent. Meditation helps reduce stress and create a healthier mental state—two things that will greatly benefit you if you have ADHD. Studies suggest that meditation may offer specific benefits for this condition. One study testing meditation on adults and adolescents found that 78 percent reported an improvement in their condition—30 percent reported at least a 30 percent improvement. This is significant because 30 percent improvement is used as a benchmark in determining whether an ADHD medication has made a ‘’statistically significant’’ difference in symptoms. Most of the study participants were already taking medication, so adding meditation to the mix may lead to even greater management of symptoms on top of benefits received from your medicine. The adults meditated an average of 5 sessions for a total of 90 minutes—that works out to a mere 18 minutes a session; hardly a major crunch on your time to get to it!
Journaling can be a very powerful tool for coping with your symptoms and is commonly recommended by coaches and therapists who work with ADHD patients. We all deal with stresses of life ,and the symptoms of ADHD can exacerbate these challenges, and lead to even greater feelings of overwhelm. Trying to sort everything out in your head can be a challenge and the simple act of getting things down on paper can be a very powerful tool in addressing the anxieties and problems you face in your life. It offers an opportunity to reflect on what is going on and when you are looking at your life from a calmer space, you are more easily able to come up with solutions.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys discussing natural ways to cope with mental and physical health issues; if you want to learn more about adult ADHD, check out www.adultadhd.net/ for more information on a range of topics from medications to daily living tips.