ADD Symptoms in Children | Fighting Unwanted Behaviors with Food

Many different foods can cause behaviors that mimic ADD symptoms in children. Eating these foods can cause a child to be impulsive, hyperactive, unable to focus or concentrate, and many other symptoms that can look like ADD or ADHD. When a child consistently gets the foods that create these symptoms, behaviors can sometimes spiral out of control. Remove the offending foods and balance can be restored.


When looking at ADHD symptoms in children and how different foods can be a factor, it is important to learn what you are really feeding your child. There are so many chemicals in our foods that it’s no wonder our children behave the way they do. Chemically processed foods have become the norm in our society and are creating a nation of behaviorally challenged, processed kids. When you see a child with ADD symptoms, look to the diet first.


The first thing to do is start reading ingredients. Start noticing how many ingredients are in the food and how many of them are actually food. If it’s not food, chances are it is a chemical additive. Should it really take 75 ingredients to make a cake? Should there be 100 ingredients in a frozen meal? These chemicals cause reactions in the body that can manifest as ADD ADHD symptoms.


The next step is to isolate the problematic food or foods. This is done by removing one food at a time and watching what happens. It is a trial and error process that takes time, so don’t get discouraged. When you find the culprit, the effect can be quite dramatic. It is helpful to keep a food diary and log everything the child eats for a period of time. Reviewing the diary periodically can give you helpful insight.


The following are several of the worst offenders:


Artificial Colors:  Food dyes are notorious for causing symptoms of ADHD in children. More than 17 million pounds of artificial food coloring are made in the United States each year. Just think of all the brightly colored drinks, cereals, and snack foods, in colors that don’t even exist in real food, that are available to your children every day. Not only are food dyes linked to ADD symptoms in children, they have also been shown to contain low levels of cancer causing compounds. The FDA has refused to ban food dyes, even though they are repeatedly shown in studies to cause behavior problems and hyperactivity in children.


MSG:  Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, is an excitotoxin. It is a neurotoxin that literally excites your brain cells to death. According to neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, MSG crosses the blood/brain barrier and can cause the developing nerve fibers to be miswired. In children, MSG can affect mood, cause depression, create autism-like symptoms, behavior disorders, and learning disabilities. Because it crosses the blood brain barrier, it is also a common culprit in adult ADD symptoms. MSG is in practically all fast foods, many packaged and processed foods, processed meats, frozen meals, soup mixes, potato chips, snack foods, salad dressings and many other foods. It is difficult to spot because food manufacturers are able to hide MSG under other names that consumers won’t recognize. Learning these names will make it easier to keep MSG out of your child’s diet.


High Fructose Corn Syrup:  A major factor in our country’s obesity crisis, HFCS can also be a major factor in a child’s behavior. It can cause a drastic mood change, behavior issues, and hyperactivity. Also, mercury, a known cause of ADHD symptoms, is commonly found in high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is in many foods aimed at children, most packaged/box food items, breads, ketchup, soft drinks, juices, candy, snack foods, and more. It is difficult at first to eliminate from the diet, but it is well worth it.


Eliminating these additives can be a good start to finding the root cause of unwanted behaviors. If none of these work, there is another food that is becoming an issue to up to 15 percent of the population. ADD symptoms in children are only some of the problems this food can cause.


To find out more about what’s in your food and how it may be affecting your child, click here to buy the book, Processed Kids: The Real Mom’s Guide to Raising Natural Kids in a Processed World, by Lisa Greene.

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About the Author

About Lisa Green

Author and Mom

My name is Lisa Greene and I have struggled for years with my child's food sensitivities that have manifested in behavior issues, hyperactivity, impulsivity, cavities, facial tics, and much more. Years of research has taught me what works, what children need in their diet, and what to avoid.

Follow my blog and read my book and I will show how you can treat your child's symptoms naturally.

Have a question about your child's symptoms or behaviors? Contact me at and I can help.