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FROM THE BLOG

12 Tips on Taming Your ADHD Eating Habits

Posted on July 06, 2018

 

Like most everything else in our lives, staying on track with a health and fitness plan can be overwhelming. Procrastinating, losing interest, being forgetful, and other ADHD “traits” come into play big time. Typically, ADHD symptoms worsen when they’re attached to areas in our lives where we have little motivation or interest, and they lessen when we’re engaged and interested. For example, managing paperwork can be excruciatingly boring, so we tend to procrastinate on getting it done. On the other hand, if you love to garden, cook or play golf or video games, well…that can grab our attention so well, it can be hard to force ourselves to stop.

For many, starting and maintaining a diet and exercise routine falls under the “boring, hard to stay motivated” category. Thus, many with ADHD are faced with failure as they try to change their life styles. However, I’ve known many people with ADHD (myself included) who have found that changing their lifestyles can (and usually will), improve ADHD symptoms. So what are you waiting for? Let ‘s get started

Below are 12 tips to get you back on track on improving your health.

1. Assess what it is you need to change. Do you need to lose weight? Eat more healthfully? Begin exercising? Make a doctor’s appointment? Get your cholesterol checked? Write down all the things you would like to change about your health and then prioritize them by number.

2. Start small, start slow. Start with #1 on your list. Ask yourself what you need to do to get started. If it’s, say, to exercise, ask yourself what activity you would most likely be apt to stick with. Write down what you need to do to get started, i.e. join a health club, purchase appropriate equipment, etc. Once you’re prepared to begin, spend only 10 minutes in the given activity and build up from there. If you bore easily, consider choosing more than one activity to switch back and forth from.

3. Write it in your planner! If your goal is to begin exercising, write in the days and times you’ll be working out. If it’s starting a diet, write your start date with your current weight, then list what you will be eating that day. Or consider using a separate notebook to track your foods.

4. Be mindful of how your ADHD plays out. For some, the thought of cooking special foods is overwhelming. If you have the resources, look into companies that do the cooking for you. Companies like Nutrasystem and Seattle Sutton are examples of programs that measure, cook and even deliver your foods. Remember that the cost may seem high, but it is a temporary measure until your weight is down and more manageable. Other weight loss programs are very helpful; they teach you how to make healthy choices and often offer support groups. In the long run, you’ll save lots of money by avoiding expensive health care for weight related health problems.

5. Many people with ADHD self-medicate with food. For some, it’s a way to self-calm. For others, it’s stimulating. Take note of when and why you find yourself reaching for the Oreos or potato chips. What could you be doing instead? Catch yourself and note what your triggers are, then substitute eating with a healthier alternative.

6. ADHD and poor planning often go together. Do you rush out of the house with little or no time to eat breakfast? Do you come home too late to plan a healthy dinner? As hard as it might be for one with ADHD, work on setting up an eating plan. Breakfast, especially one that contains some protein, is imperative for people with ADHD. Pack something the night before to eat at work or wake up 15 minutes earlier to give yourself time to eat.

Plan your dinners out, as well. Take index cards and write out a menu for each day of the week, including items needed at the market. Choose a card the night before so that you don’t have to deal with meal decisions at the last minute. When you are at the grocery store, take your cards with you so that you can be sure that you have the needed ingredients for the week.

7. Eating disorders are often seen with ADHD, as is anxiety and depression, which can also cause over or under eating. If you’ve struggled with this, consider working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.

8. Make sure your ADHD is properly treated. Once the ADHD is better controlled, the need to self-medicate with food often decreases.

9. Give yourself some slack. Many people, ADHD or not, fail to stick with their diets and exercise programs. It’s often better to think about “making better choices”, than putting yourself on a diet. Don’t throw in the towel if you find yourself slipping. Tell yourself you’ll get back on track tomorrow.

10. Change your shopping habits. We often find ourselves buying the same things and are on autopilot at the market, tossing in cookies and other treats in the basket. Start by eliminating ONE thing that you know isn’t good for you and your family. If you are feeling sabotaged by family members who insist on eating poorly and if they are old enough to cook for themselves, allow them to take over their own meals. As a parent, your job is to keep you and your family as healthy as possible. If your children are young and need you to cook for them, gradually make healthy changes to their diets. Engage them in the process by having them help shop for healthy items and by assisting you in the kitchen. Sometimes having fewer dinner options is the way to go. Write a list of seven healthy dinner ideas and let them choose from that.

11. Often times, people with ADHD simply forget to eat. We then get to the point of feeling so starved, we’ll just grab whatever is at hand or rush to a drive-in fast food restaurant. Start getting into the habit of eating three meals plus a few healthy snacks in between. Keep granola bars, whole wheat crackers, etc. in your purse/car/office and strive to eliminate after dinner snacking.

12. Pair up with a buddy. Your spouse/partner, child, neighbor…it’s always easier when you have someone who understands and shares your goals.

Remember that your goal is to improve your health. But breaking old habits can be very hard, so start small and start slow. You can do it!

What has worked for you? Please share in the Comment section below.

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Letting Go: Embracing the New ADHD You

Posted on June 25, 2018

 

The other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine, who was sharing with me her feelings about her oldest child and how he will be leaving for college in the fall. He is emotionally ready and mature enough to leave home, but she is desperate to hold on just a bit longer. She spoke about how hard it is to let go; to see our children grow up and become independent, which triggered my memory of sending my own daughter off to her first day of college and literally weeping on the drive home.

My friend spoke of the many ways individuals have to experience “letting go.” We let go of loved ones through death, separations, chronic illnesses (Alzheimer’s, for example), adoption, moving to new cities, even seeing our children marry and move on.

It made me wonder about ADHD and letting go and it brought me back to the early days of my post-diagnosis and thinking back of what life could have been, had I been diagnosed earlier and gotten the appropriate treatment. Could I have learned more in school? Could I have been a better mother?

In talking to hundreds of adults with ADHD, I hear over and over again the sadness, the loss of what “could have been.”

Part of the therapeutic process in working with adults with ADHD is helping people accept the losses felt in a life lived pre-diagnosis, when so much seemed to go wrong. Ravaging ADHD symptoms prevented many from living up to their academic potential. Many struggled with relationships that simply didn’t work out, because the ADHD wasn’t properly treated, causing havoc between them and their partners. Self esteem dropped when the complications of daily living became too much, with houses deeply cluttered, events missed due to time management problems, bills not paid in time, homes lost to foreclosure, and even deterioration of health because distractions and over commitments got in the way of picking up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment.

At work, many struggled because they had no idea that perhaps the job or career path they chose was not a good match for them and their ADHD. Nor did they know that they could ask for accommodations so they could be more productive and less stressed.

Many mothers felt incapable of meeting their children’s needs because they couldn’t take care of their own. The chaos of a young household might have taken  its toll and they shut down, spiraling into anxiety and depression and low self worth.

There are dozens of areas in one’s life that is affected by ADHD. One could suggest that “all” areas are.

We can choose to wallow in that sense of loss- the lost years, as some call it- or…we can choose to move forward. Armed with knowledge about your ADHD, and getting the treatment you know you need to live more successfully, can you make the decision now to start “letting go” of the past? Can you let go of the sadness, the defeats, the relationships that didn’t work out? Can you put the old “you”- the undiagnosed, untreated ADHD person in a box and put it up on a mental shelf, not to be forgotten, but to guide you forward as you blossom into the new you?

This new “you” is now armed with tools and life lessons. Hopefully, you have gotten some counseling to put to rest the hurt you’ve lived with all those years. Now, you have skills, medication and support to help you move forward, navigating new and better relationships, new ways to propel yourself into a better job. Perhaps you’re confident now to even return to school. Or to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Are you ready to let go? Because by letting go, you will have access to all that wonderful energy you now need to nurture all those incredible talents and gifts that were pushed aside all these years, buried under the symptoms that held you back. You can tap into that energy that in the past was spent obsessing about the losses and hurts due to your ADHD. Now, you can free that up and use it to make positive changes in your life. And think how wonderful that will feel.

What has changed since *your* diagnosis? Please share in the Comment section below.

 


The Parenting ADHD Summit Starts Tomorrow (Monday) June 18, 2018

Posted on June 18, 2018

The Parenting ADHD Summit Starts Tomorrow (Monday), June 18, 2018!

The Summit will empower you to help your child survive and thrive when growing up with ADHD. Join 38 experts for the FREE online Parenting ADHD Summit, June 18-24, 2018. Claim your spot at: https://bit.ly/2M25Pcv

There’s a stellar lineup of ADHD and parenting experts, including Dr. Ned Hallowell, Dr. Ari Tuckman, Dr. Mark Bertin, Colleen Kessler, Leslie Josel, Jim Forgan… and me. (And many more experts!).

Sign up now!  https://bit.ly/2M25Pcv