Healing ADD: Using Diet as Medicine
This ADD Diet was developed by Dr. Daniel Amen is a physician, psychiatrist and New York Times bestselling author of 30 books including The Amen Solution.
In Healing ADD he describes seven different forms of ADD and offers advice on treatment options for each type.
The book is aimed at parents who know or suspect their child has ADD. However it also discusses how ADD can manifest in adults.
ADD Diet Basics
In the beginning of the book is a questionnaire to help identify the type of ADD that is present. According to Amen, understanding the unique complexities of each subtype improves treatment outcomes in both children and adults.
- Amen discusses the probable causes of ADD including trauma and genetic influences.
- He also details how ADD can affect an individual and their interactions at school, work and personal relationships.
- Amen states that the best approach for dealing with ADD involves a combination of lifestyle adjustment, psychological counseling, and social support.
Diet for ADD
Healing ADD says that food can be used like medicine. A healthy diet can have a powerful and positive effect on cognition, feelings, and behavior. However, the wrong foods can have an equally powerful negative effect.
Says Amen, “If you want to concentrate and have good energy until dinner, don’t have any simple carbohydrates at lunch.” This means avoiding bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit juice, and sugar in the mid-day meal. If you want to eat these foods have them at a time that you don’t need to focus such as on weekends or before bed.
The Importance of Water
Drinking adequate water is important because hydration is essential for optimal brain health. Water transports nutrients into brain cells and carries waste products out.
- It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
- Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided because they cause dehydration.
Eliminate Anything Toxic
In addition to causing dehydration, caffeine intake has been shown in brain studies to decrease overall blood flow to the brain. Nicotine has a similar effect.
The effect of long-term consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine is to make ADD symptoms worse over time.
Over 50 percent of teenagers and adults with ADD have currently or have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse. Thus treatment for these addictions is an essential component for healing ADD.
ADD Healing Foods
Some of Foods expected on the ADD diet.
Chicken, turkey, lean beef, salmon, tuna, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat string cheese, milk, protein powder, apricots, oranges, pears, grapefruit, apples, kiwi, vegetables, black beans, kidney beans, whole grain bread, oatmeal, natural peanut butter, Brazil nuts, olive oil.
Possible Day’s Meal Plan
Whole grain bagel with cream cheese
Natural peanut butter and celery sticks
Aerobic Exercise Recommended
Amen states that all ADD types will benefit from intense aerobic exercise. He has seen a direct relationship between the level of exercise a person gets and the severity of their symptoms. When ADD patients are active in sports they do better in school without any change in their medication.
Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain. It also increases serotonin availability in the brain, which has a tendency to calm some ADD types.
He recommends 30 to 45 minutes of exercise at least five times a week.
Costs and Expenses
Healing ADD Revised Edition: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD retails at $17.
- Identifies seven different subtypes of ADD and outlines a unique treatment approach for each one.
- Includes information about diet, medication and nutritional supplements for ADD.
- Focuses on a variety of psychological methods to improve ADD including social support, personal coaching and self-hypnosis.
- Describes many individual case studies, which readers may be able to relate to their personal situation.
- Offers ideas on how to obtain the most suitable professional help.
- Does not adequately address side effects of ADD medications such as potential heart damage related to long-term stimulant use.
- Treatment for ADD is best undertaken by consulting directly with a health care professional.
- The recommendations may not always lead to successful outcomes as some ADD patients can become worse with certain drugs.
- Some readers will find the book too technical and lacking in practical applications.
- Does not include a meal plan or detailed dietary advice.
Lacks Practical Applications
Healing ADD is a resource book that describes the different ways ADD can manifest and offers information regarding treatment.
Readers looking for a straightforward solution may find this book to be lacking in simple and practical applications. However, it will appeal to parents who want to learn more detailed information about ADD and its management.
- Amen, D. G. (2001). Healing Add. Penguin.
- Carter, C. M., Urbanowicz, M., Hemsley, R., Mantilla, L., Strobel, S., Graham, P. J., & Taylor, E. (1993). Effects of a few food diet in attention deficit disorder. Archives of disease in childhood, 69(5), 564-568. link
- Banerjee, T. D., Middleton, F., & Faraone, S. V. (2007). Environmental risk factors for attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder. Acta paediatrica, 96(9), 1269-1274. link
Last Reviewed: January 14, 2018