ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

Are you SAD during the Winter Months?

This month we have discussed how diet and exercise can affect your ADHD symptoms. There is another disorder highly associated with ADHD and that is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

“According to the National Mental Health Association, the most difficult months for SAD sufferers are January and February, and younger persons and women are at higher risk. Many SAD individuals also have ADHD.”[1]

“As seasons change, there is a shift in our ‘biological internal clocks’ or Circadian rhythm due partly because of changes in sunlight patterns,” says Andrea Rogers, Supervisor for Intensive Outpatient Programs in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai. “According to Rogers, melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, is produced at increased levels in the dark winter months.” [2]

young woman in depression near the window

In the previous blog we discussed the different food groups and how they can help improve your ADHD symptoms. Below are nutrients that are mind and body boosters and can help with your ADHD/SAD symptoms.

Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9)

Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression.

Folate is especially important for pregnant women, but everyone needs folic acid for production of cells. It is especially important for healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, liver and red blood cell production.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains have high amounts of folate, or folic acid.

Vitamin D

Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months.

Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones, and the health of muscles and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart disease and increased risk of heart attacks.

Most foods do not naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added.

Our bodies also produce Vitamin D as a result of being in the sun. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week generally produces enough Vitamin D, with lighter-skinned people requiring less time than those with darker skin. Time in the sun beyond the suggested amounts above requires use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and reduce risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D supplements may be used in fall and winter months.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilizing effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD.

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be important in reducing inflammation, the primary cause of conditions like arthritis and asthma, and play a role in heart health by reducing triglycerides (blood fats). They may also reduce risk for certain kinds of cancer.

Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association suggests eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flaxseed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables.”[3]

Time just seems to slip away during the darkness of the winter months. Focus and attention along with organizational skills seem to falter as the days become shorter and the nights longer. You are not alone, Play Attention has written an eBook to help with Time Management: http://www.playattention.com/time_management

Let Play Attention help you improve focus and attention during these winter months! Go to: http://www.playattention.com/free-adhd-consult/ and schedule a FREE consult at a time that best meets your busy schedule. Or, call 800 788 6786. Play Attention not only offers customized, individualized programs – full support is included in the program.

 

[1] http://blog.samhsa.gov/2014/10/09/lets-talk-about-depression/#.Vqpd3E-PYQo

[2] http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Andrea-Rogers/274768305

[3] http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/healthy-diet-eating-mental-health-mind

ADHD: Diet and Nutrition

Best Foods for Kids With ADHD

In our previous blog: ADHD and Food Additives, we discussed how certain types of diets may help to control ADHD symptoms and how sugar and gluten may worsen ADHD symptoms.

“Diet may play a significant role in managing symptoms in children with ADHD. Adding certain foods and nutrients that may boost brain function, eliminating foods that seem to worsen ADHD symptoms, and trying other diet and nutrition tips to improve your child’s diet may all help with ADHD.”[1]

Below, is a compilation of fruits, dairy, vegetables, protein, and food high in Omega 3, which may improve ADHD symptoms in children and adults as well.

FRUITS

“Apples are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Doctors have recommended that children with ADHD increase their intake of complex carbohydrates. Eating these types of foods right before bed has also been known to help children sleep better. An apple a day will keep your ADHD symptoms at bay. Much like apples, pears are a good source of complex carbohydrates. Similar to apples and other complex carbs, eating pears at night can help aid sleep. Much like oranges, apples and pears, kiwis are an incredible source of complex carbohydrates.

x-ray image of human head with vegetables for a brain.

Eating oranges or grapefruits – and drinking 100 percent pure orange juice – are both great ways to add more complex carbohydrates to your diet. These foods are known to help aid with sleep (falling asleep can be very difficult for kids with ADHD) and are a great source of Vitamin C as well.

DAIRY

Cheese is a great source of protein and protein. However, many who suffer from ADHD suffer with a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance, which can exacerbate  ADHD symptoms. If you suspect you or your child has an allergy to cow’s milk/dairy, try switching to goat cheese instead to improve concentration and improve how ADHD medication works.

VEGETABLES

Spinach is one of the most effective vegetables when it comes to controlling ADHD symptoms in children. Doctors often recommend leafy green vegetables and spinach is most definitely at the top of that list.

OMEGA 3

Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to significantly decrease ADHD symptoms in many children. Tuna is a phenomenal source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to tuna, nuts are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and Brazil nuts have been shown to have the most impact when managing ADHD symptoms but other types like almonds are a great alternative as well.

Eating salmon at least once a week will help alleviate some of the symptoms your child might be experiencing from ADHD. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. White fish is a great way to incorporate more Omega-3 fatty acids into you and your child’s diet. If you’re eating too much salmon (or simply looking for an alternative or addition to salmon) white fish is a great option.

PROTEIN

Eggs are also a great source of protein. Protein is essential in maintaining a balanced diet and controlling symptoms in children and adults with ADHD. Much like cheese, eggs will improve concentration and increase the time ADHD medications work. Beans, much like cheese and eggs, are a great source of protein as well.

Chicken boasts countless health benefits but the biggest nutritional factor when it comes to chicken is the amount of protein. Most kids love chicken and there are countless ways to incorporate it into your weekly meal planning. Adding protein to your meals will improve concentration and will increase the time ADHD medication works.

Lastly, we’d like to mention cereals. Whole grain cereal can be a very healthy breakfast option for kids suffering from ADHD but there are a few key things to remember. First, you’ll always want to choose multi-grain options. Instead of normal Cheerios, choose multigrain. Secondly, you’ll want to avoid cereals with artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. What does that mean? It simply means opt for kinds like Corn Flakes and Fiber 1 instead of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.

We need to stress this: Every person is different and will react to certain foods differently. Some people have allergic reactions to certain types of food (dairy etc.) which can trigger ADHD symptoms. It’s always best to talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to diet.”[2]

Play Attention realizes that all individuals with ADHD are different from one another and require different needs. Play Attention not only offers customized, individualized programs – full support is included in the program.

Call: 800 788 6786 for more information or attend one of our FREE upcoming Speed Webinars to learn more. http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

 

[1] http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd/diet-tips-for-kids.aspx

[2] http://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/15-best-foods-for-children-with-adhd/

http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

www.playattention.com

 

 

 

 

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is claimed to be the most important meal of the day. Yet research shows that 31 million US citizens skip this meal every day. Reasons vary from not enough time to weight loss. With growing brains and bodies, children need to continually refuel their bodies for good development. Research shows that children who eat breakfast come to school on time and are more successful.

How often do we get up and pour our favorite cereal into a bowl for our child or ourselves. While convenient, this sugary concoction may exacerbate the symptoms of AD/HD. It makes simple sense that adding sugar and carbohydrates may give that initial burst of energy, but that’s not exactly what one wants for someone who has a difficult time controlling their behavior.

Many authorities find that a breakfast high in protein is most beneficial for people with attention challenges. In her article in Additude magazine by food and nutrition researcher Laura Stevens offers her take on the benefits of the right breakfast for people with AD/HD.

So how does one create the perfect protein breakfast on an already hectic morning? There are many ways to incorporate protein. Some easy make-ahead ideas can be found on the Internet. With a little planning, these high-protein breakfast ideas become “grab and go” for hectic weekday mornings.

It makes sense to start each day in the best possible way. What we put into our bodies is closely related to how we perform throughout the day, but diet alone is not the complete answer to the test. Cognitive attention training along with a healthy diet will create long lasting results when battling AD/HD. Play Attention, the world leader in feedback-based attention training, along with a high protein breakfast, will set anyone up for success.

Barb Rollar

 

Social Skills at a Restaurant

Social Skills at a Restaurant

Whether you’re on a family vacation or it’s just too hot to cook, a restaurant may be the answer for mealtime this summer. It is understandable if sometimes you try to avoid bringing your child to a nice restaurant.  Often times a child with ADHD has a difficult time riding in the car straight to a restaurant where he will have to sit even longer and adjust his behavior to this new social setting.  This can be a recipe for disaster!  However, you can take some steps to make your restaurant experience an enjoyable event.

Ornate  Land Expectations – No parent should expect their child to understand how to act in a restaurant. After all, at home things are completely different. In most cases, children are busy playing while their meal is being prepared. It’s important that you explain the differences to your child so they can understand what is expected.

Ornate  Explain Restaurant Etiquette – When landing expectations, explain to your child that everyone in the restaurant wants to have a good time. Also, explain what is appropriate so they understand that unpleasant behavior affects everyone’s experience, not just theirs.

Ornate  Start Simple – When introducing this new concept to your child, start simple. Maybe you’ll begin with a quick trip to the ice cream store where the wait time isn’t as long. Or perhaps you’ll start with lunch, which is usually served quicker than dinner. In any case, you want to be wise when picking where you’ll start so that your trip will be successful.OutToEat

Ornate  Arrive Prepared – Some restaurants provide crayons and coloring placemats to keep your child entertained during wait times. It’s best that you come prepared with your own arsenal of restaurant-friendly activities for your child. Keep a bag in the family car so that the contents stay new by only using them for restaurant outings.

Ornate  Choice Matters – Choose restaurants that are kid friendly. Many reputable chain restaurants offer play areas and outdoor eating areas for kids, which gives them an opportunity to move about. Don’t expect your six year old to be content in a high-class restaurant where dining can be a lengthy event.

Ornate  When needed, move – Since you know there is a hyperactive part of most children with ADHD, you’ll have to take this into consideration. When you see your child start getting antsy while waiting for food to arrive, create a distraction. Have someone in the party take the child for a walk. Maybe you’re in a seafood restaurant that has a big tank that you can visit. Or maybe you’re visiting an outdoor restaurant on a boardwalk where a quick walk can take up some time.

Ornate  Diet Considerations – Most restaurants can accommodate diet restrictions. Don’t be afraid to order food the way your child likes it. Also, encourage your child to try new things, but have a backup plan if their choice doesn’t pan out.

Ornate  Dinner Conversation – Dinner with your child at a restaurant is not the time to have an adult conversation. Because of wait times, be prepared to be a part of keeping your youngster entertained. Whether it’s playing a game of tic-tac-toe or just chatting as a family, it’s important that your child is not struggling for your attention. Keep adult conversations for date night without your child.

Planning and Surviving a Summer Family Vacation

Planning and Surviving a Summer Family Vacation

Summer travel means a transition from routine and structure. And summer break means just overall excitement. All of this can add up to a stressful vacation for a parent of a child with ADHD. However, there are some steps that can help you have a happy, stress free family vacation.

  • Hold a planning meeting – Solicit the family’s ideas on what they want to do for a summer vacation. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a voyage overseas, every family member should have a vote. After all, how relaxing is the vacation going to be if everyone hasn’t bought in?
  • Be Realistic – If your family vacation has time limitations, don’t plan one far away. It will be no fun to be in the car for three days and at the beach for two, just to turn around for a three-day road trip back home. Try to plan a vacation that will only take a day of travel time each way.
  • Assign Duties – Once you’ve determined where the family will go, assign duties needed to make the vacation happen. This ensures the burden of preparation is not just placed on one person. For instance, if your vacation takes you to the beach, someone will need to research accommodation options, travel arrangements, meals, etc.
  • Calendar Out Dates – Use a calendar to set deadlines for planning the vacation. This will allow all family members to know when they have to complete their duties. It will also help build excitement as the vacation date gets closer.summer_travel
  • Plan the Travel Day – Talk to family members about what to expect on the travel day. If you’re flying to your destination, explain what will happen. “We’ll flying out early in the morning and land in Georgia at lunch time. We’ll have lunch at the airport and fly out to be beach after lunch. We’ll drive from the airport and be at the beach house by about four o’clock.” This will help, but may not eliminate the “Are we there yet?” statements. Do the same if travelling by car. Planning out the day with stops for meals, bathroom breaks, and any site seeing you’ll be doing along the way.
  • Create Down Time – Bring along activities that your child can do to slow down the pace a bit. Packing a vacation full of activities will leave everyone exhausted. Since vacations are designed to decompress, be sure that you are taking time to do just that.
  • Pack Wisely – Packing all of your child’s favorite toys may not be the wisest move. Favorite blankets can be easily left behind in hotels, causing a multitude of meltdowns and derailing even the best-planned vacation. A better idea is to pack one favorite toy and make the rest things that won’t cause a problem if lost.
  • Relax and Enjoy – With the hectic lifestyles that we all lead, summer family vacations are precious time that we have to relax and enjoy our family. It’s time to throw away bedtimes, wake up times, and strict schedules – just relax. The time you spend as a family just relaxing on the beach will be better than an activity-packed week where everyone ends up exhausted and cranky.Have fun!

Remember you can travel with your Play Attention system!  Start your Play Attention program now and take advantage of the summer months to prepare for the next school year!  

Call now 800-788-6786.

Brain Food

Brain Food

Top 10 secrets to get your family eating better – for the brain!

We have all read about the recommend foods for healthy brains.  But let’s face it; “brain foods” usually aren’t too kid-friendly. Omega-rich fish like salmon, vegetables like spinach and kale, and oatmeal are not typically your child’s favorite things to eat.  They may not be even some of your favorite dishes! When it comes to integrating these foods into your family’s diet, it will take some ingenuity. Here are some ideas:

  Oatmeal – Instead of the traditional bowl of gruel that most kids turn their noses up at, consider making a granola bar packed with oatmeal and other healthy ingredients.

  Spinach – Slightly wilting leaves in olive oil make this brain food much more palatable. Also, consider baking spinach leaves into chips.

  Iron Rich Foods – Beef, chicken, and turkey are kid-friendly sources of iron. Since there has been a direct correlation made between iron deficiencies and brain deficiencies, keeping healthy levels of iron in your diet is paramount.

  Chocolate – Flavanol, which is present in dark chocolate, has been known to be a key factor in reducing memory loss. It is also speculated that flavanol can help regulate your mood and battle depression. Dark chocolate can be easily substituted into your child’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

  Eat your Veggies – Many vegetables are excellent sources of brain food. Cauliflower, green peppers, onions, broccoli, and winter squashes (such as acorn or butternut) will all help boost brainpower. Serve vegetable creatively. For example, cauliflower can be easily hidden in mashed potatoes!

  Eggs – Eggs are an excellent source of protein and the yolks contain choline, an important nutrient for memory development.

  Peanut Butter – Kids love peanut butter, which is packed with Vitamin E and thiamin and are good for the brain. Peanut butter makes a great dip for fruit such as bananas, apples, and even pretzels.

  Whole Grains – Whole grain bread is packed with Vitamin B, which is great for the nervous system. If your child turns their nose up at whole grain bread, consider whole grain crackers or wraps.

  Berry Simple – Blueberries, strawberries and all the other berries that fit in here are a great source of brain food. The seeds in these berries contain Omega-3 fats, which are good for the brain. The more intense the color, the better the berry is for your brain.

  Yogurt – Yogurt is a great source of Vitamin D and B, both important in healthy brain function. Can’t get your child to eat yogurt? Turn it into a healthy frozen treat.

 

Eat right for a healthy brain and contact us at Play Attention to teach your brain the cognitive skills it needs! 800-788-6786

 

What You Can Learn From a Marshmallow

What you can learn from a marshmallow.

– It will change your life!

It’s an age old dilemma; we stare at a plate of chocolate chip cookies after eating just one. We know well that’s all we should eat, but the impulse kicks in and we have another. And another.  Science tells us how this lack of control will affect us long-term, and it’s not just about your waistline.

Impulsive behaviors are often associated with children and adults with autism or ADHD. At times, they lack self-control. Impulsiveness is simply acting without forethought. There is no cause-and-effect rationale with impulsivity; in most instances, this population does not understand the consequences of their impulsive behaviors. The importance of developing self-control or self-regulation has been studied for more than 50 years.

In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University did an experiment on delayed gratification – the ability to fend off the impulse to eat another cookie. In his study, the Marshmallow Experiment, Mischel offered preschool children one marshmallow that they could eat immediately. However, he also instructed them if they waited for a little while, he would give them a second marshmallow. This video shows the agony some of these preschoolers went through as they sat alone in a room when having to decide to eat the one marshmallow staring them in the face or wait to reap the rewards of a second marshmallow.

The children used different strategies; some imagined the marshmallow was only a cloud; others distracted themselves by covering their eyes or turning away. They delayed gratification for 15 minutes and earned their second marshmallow.

The preschoolers were followed for many years thereafter. Researchers found that those who were able delay gratification had far better long-term outcomes compared with peers who immediately devoured the marshmallow in less than a minute:

  • They were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior.
  • Far less likely to develop drug addiction.
  • Far less likely to develop obesity by the time they were in high school.
  • The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT.

While these outcomes are significant, delayed gratification, in essence, planning for longer-term goals also has practical value. We would like to teach our children to save money for college, save for a new car, or insurance for that car.

Socially, we also want them to make good decisions with careful consideration. This involves everything from what they eat, who they date, and what they try when alone with their friends.

So, it’s incredibly important to teach this skill for every child, but how can we help a child or adult with ADHD or autism learn how to delay gratification?

Modeling the behavior you desire from your child is an important first step. If you tend act impulsively around your child, they are likely to see that behavior as acceptable and not attempt to control it. If you practice a calmer, more planned approach to life, you’ll set a great example.

Because most impulsive people are not aware that they are doing anything wrong, the first step is to create awareness. Strategies can be implemented once awareness has been developed.

The behavior-shaping component in the Play Attention program brings concrete awareness to people who want to understand how to control these impulsive behaviors. We specialize in teaching this behavior and welcome you to attend a webinar to see how this clinically proven method works to teach self-regulation.

More (and somewhat comical) videos of the Marshmallow Experiment:

Mature Marshmallow Experiment

Your attention experts are at www.playattention.com. 800.788.6786.

 

 

 

Does Diet Affect ADHD and Autism?

Does Diet Affect ADHD and Autism?

Some medical doctors disputed the notion that diet, food additives, and refined sugar had any effect on autism for years. In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics admitted they might have been wrong. In Alison Schonwald’s article, “ADHD and Food Additives Revisited,” she looks at a randomized study conducted in the UK that addresses the effects of food additives on children’s behavior. In the fine print of that study, the editor states, “…the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong.”

Now many experts are stating that diet may contribute to certain unwanted behaviors in children with autism or ADHD. However, they are cautious to admit that diet can play such an important role. Many state that more studies need to be done to quantify the theory, even though most of the studies already done show a connection.

Many parents and adults have adopted gluten-free and casein-free (often referred to as the GF/CF diet) diets. Casein is the main protein present in milk and cheese. It is often present in processed foods, paints, and adhesives. Gluten is primarily found in breads and cereals. Early studies show that eliminating gluten and casein from the diet improved behavior, social skills, and learning.fa

Refined sugar poses its own set of complications. In a study done at the University of South Carolina, researchers concluded, “that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became.” Additional studies conducted at Yale University are coming to the same conclusion, “…high-sugar diets may increase inattention in some ADHD kids.”

GF/CF and diets that do not contain sugar (refined or otherwise) tend to be very lean. This contradicts statements made by The American Society of Nutritional Sciences that “Fat, especially in infancy and early childhood, is essential for neurological development and brain function.” The ASNS goes on to state, “…children and adults need fat in their diets. It supplies essential fatty acids (EFA) and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.”

Kid’s Health reports, “…some experts think the low-fat/no-fat revolution may have gone too far, overlooking the complex nature of fats and how they work in the body.” Rather than a low-fat diet, they suggest a diet that includes unsaturated fats, which are found in foods such as avocados, olive oil, tuna fish, and salmon. Nutritionist Kerry Torren believes there is a tradeoff with low-fat/no-fat foods. She states, “ … the typical low-fat product tended to be high in carbs, might contain trans-fats, and had a very similar calorie count to the original product.”

When it comes to modifying your child’s diet, it’s important that you consult with your medical doctor and a nutritionist who specializes in autism and ADHD. Certified nutritionist Julie Matthews has devoted her website NourishingHope to providing information about food and nutrition for ADHD, autism and healthy children.

For more information on the effects of diet on autism and ADHD click here.
To watch a recorded webinar hosted by Play Attention on nutrition, click here.

 

 

 

Let’s Make a Meal!

Earlier in the month, we explored starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Then we looked at providing a lunch that would sustain your child with ADHD throughout the school day and help avoid the afternoon slump. Now let’s take a look at involving your little one in the meal making process.

For some of us, meal preparation comes naturally. We feel we can beat even the best home cook on Gordon Ramsay’s television show, MasterChef. However, some of us dread the thought putting together the evening meal for the family. Whether you can easily put together the perfect well-balanced meal or struggle to put something edible on the table each night, we all have to start somewhere.

The good news is, just like any other skill, cooking can be taught. And just like cognitive training for people struggling with attention, you’ll get better the more you practice.

Cooking with someone with ADHD can be a challenge. With short attention spans, things will have to be kept simple and quick. Also, keep in mind that nutritionists recommend a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates while keeping the diet low in refined sugars.

Here are some quick and easy recipes that will provide the right nutrition and start your child on the road to becoming a great home cook.  You will find that cooking with your child can be a great learning experience.  Your child will learn critical skills such as planning, time management, counting, fractions, money, weighing, measuring, and problem solving!

When my children were growing up, I started teaching them to cook at an early age. We started with simple things like making toast. Then we graduated to helping stir things (this gets a little messy, but be patient, it gets better). Eventually I tasked each of my sons with planning and helping prepare one meal a week for the family. Be prepared, you may be eating hot dogs with mac and cheese at first, or maybe PB&J, but this too shall pass.

As time went on, they both became more adventurous with their meal prep and it actually became a friendly competition on who could come up with the better meal. I have to say that after a couple of years, their meals were better than mine at times.  Plus it gave me a break from having to come up with something for dinner.

For teenagers, you can take it a step further. The Food Network’s show Chopped features chefs having to prepare meals from five random ingredients given to them in a basket. Imagine how fun it would be to give your budding chef random ingredients, and have them create a meal in an hour? On the show, the chefs are faced with some strange ingredients, for instance chicken in a can, or gummy worms paired with a pork loin. So be careful what you put in your mystery basket—remember you have to eat it!

For more information on health and nutrition Click Here

Watch Play Attention’s recorded webinar on nutrition here

 

 

 

Healthy School Lunches

Healthy School Lunches

Earlier this month I wrote about the benefits of a healthy breakfast. It is equally as important to provide your child with a healthy lunch to continue to fuel their body throughout the day.

The Internet does not lack evidence that typical school lunches tend to be unhealthy. While it may meet nutritional requirements, school lunches are laden with salt, fat, and calories. Because of the large volume needed to serve the average school’s population, cheaper grade products are used to feed the masses. Animal-based products used in the school-provided lunches are generally processed and contain a great deal of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Granted, First Lady Michelle Obama has heightened awareness with her Let’s Move campaign. With more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, the First Lady is passionate about providing healthier options for these students. When she started Let’s Move in February 2010, she was quoted as saying, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

If you consider the research done on food options and AD/HD, every meal should be considered a “make or break” for your child’s school day. Lunches that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates allow AD/HD students to focus better in the classroom and avoid the afternoon slump.

Lunches supplied from home allow better control. There are a lot of foods that come prepared for ease in putting together healthy options. It’s important when picking out lunch options that you read the ingredients. It is best to avoid prepared foods that are high in salt and sugar and contain a lot of preservatives.

In her blog, Register Dietician Rachel Brandies, MS, RD offers some really great ideas for healthy after school snacks. If you keep healthy snack options in your home and avoid buying the not-so-healthy snacks, you’ll teach your child and yourself to eat healthier. Choose frozen juice bars or yogurt over ice cream. Choose a cup full of high protein cereal over cookies.

For more information on Health and AD/HD, join Gay Russell, LCSW for a FREE webinar entitled Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health, Combating the A’s with Nutrition: Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger, & Academic Challenges. The webinar is scheduled for January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am EST. Click here to register.