Inattention and impulsivity are two typical signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that can lead to or worsen patterns of disordered eating in certain people.
A 2014 study found that people with ADHD were more likely to have eating disorders, including clinical eating disorders, eating large amounts of food in a short time, purging behaviour in order to control weight, and restricted food intake. Another 2015 study revealed the connection between ADHD and binge eating, in particular, in impulsivity, the dopamine system and other reward systems in the brain, and problems controlling and processing one’s emotions.
In addition, a 2015 meta-analysis of 42 studies found a connection between ADHD and obesity. The study stated that ADHD-related impulsivity and inattention can increase food intake. It is, however, crucial to note that binge eating disorder (BED) is unrelated to weight. Binge eating can be problematic for people of all sizes.
There are, thankfully, ways to successfully manage the symptoms of both ADHD and eating problems with the aid of effective ADHD therapies. People who struggle with binge eating can find peace of mind with these three meal principles which are foundational to nearly every healthy diet or eating approach:
1. Eat regularly each day
A person who misses hunger cues due to inattention can skip meals, which they compensate for by binge eating later on. One way to lessen these occurrences is to plan meals ahead and have set mealtimes. It’s important to have at least three meals that are filling and satisfying each day. In addition, to avoid primal hunger, do not let more than 5-6 hours go by without eating.
2. Eat mindfully
Numerous studies show that practising mindfulness can improve one's ability to live intentionally and to control symptoms of sadness, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic illness. Mindful eating is an approach to food that helps you focus your attention on savouring your meal. To observe this mindful practice, chew slowly while seated at a table. Avoid grazing or snacking in between regular eating times. Although those who practise mindful eating may lose weight, the goal is to inspire people to fully engage in the dining experience and to help them relish the present and the meal.
3. Eat a variety of food groups
Maintaining a healthy food routine can be challenging for those who have BED. However, incorporating a variety of nutrients in your diet may aid in lessening the effects of ADHD symptoms. Nevertheless, there are ways to make eating a healthy diet simpler. One of them is to target at least two food groups for variety when you eat. This helps fuel your body properly and reduces empty calories. Junk food, for example, mostly has only one food group: carbs. You can mix carbs with proteins and vegetables to ensure you're getting the best out of each meal.
Nearly every healthy meal plan shares these three eating and food principles. They are 'lights' for your health journey and rules, skills and direction you can reliably turn towards no matter your current dietary approach.