Are There Food Triggers for Adult ADHD?
I hear a lot about food triggers and special diets for ADHD in kids. Are there food triggers for adult ADHD?
Food triggers and elimination diets are a big deal in the world of ADHD in children, so it's only natural for adults with this condition to wonder if their symptoms could be related to their diet. However, very little information is available about the effectiveness of food triggers or elimination diets for adults with ADHD (or even in children, for that matter).
Of all the potential triggers that have been identified, food dyes seem to have the most real evidence as possibly contributing to ADHD symptoms in children, although experts still disagree about the significance of the typically small effect food dyes seem to have on behavior. It is unknown if the research, which was done in children, can be generalized to adults.
Some preliminary research has suggested that a "restricted elimination diet" may be helpful in identifying foods that worsen behavioral problems in children with ADHD. For example, in one type of diet that has been studied, children were allowed to eat foods that rarely cause allergies (rice, meat, vegetables, pears, water, and one or two other items) for a few weeks. Some of these children had improved symptoms, suggesting that food allergies or intolerances may play a role in behavioral problems. Just as with the food dyes, the studies were done in children, and it is unknown if similar results would be seen in adults.
If you want to try avoiding certain food dyes or attempting an elimination diet for your adult ADHD symptoms, please feel free to do so. But if you are expecting a miracle cure, you’ll probably be setting yourself up for disappointment, as studies generally show that such restrictions help only slightly, if at all.