Power of Protein
Studies show that children with ADHD also have imbalances in their brain's neurotransmitters, or the chemical messengers responsible for transmitting messages from one part of the brain to another. Neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating levels of alertness or sleepiness. Some, like dopamine and norepinephrine, are responsible for keeping your child awake, while others, like serotonin, have a calming effect that helps children fall asleep.
Research indicates that protein helps regulate the neurotransmitters responsible for feeling alert. For this reason, eating meals that are high in protein can help your child stay energized and focused. In addition, eating a protein-rich breakfast can prevent your child's ADHD medication from being absorbed too quickly, which can make her feel hyper and grumpy.
Consuming enough protein isn't difficult — your child doesn't have to eat a pound of bacon and eggs for breakfast, or sit down to a gigantic porterhouse steak for dinner. The average child requires about 45 grams a day. An ounce of cheese provides seven grams of protein, so you can see that meeting your child's daily quota for protein isn't difficult.
Many children with ADHD get off to a bad start every morning by skipping breakfast, which is a crucial link in the daily protein chain. Instead of eating something healthy, they may grab a pop-up pastry, which provides zero grams of protein and lots of sugar and fat.
If you're too busy to make breakfast for your kids, consider jump-starting their day with a fruit-protein shake. You can buy protein shake mixes at the local health food store or Whole Foods– type groceries. Simply toss the mix into the blender with some fruit and ice, push “pulse,” and you've got an instant protein shake your kids will think is a milkshake.