Body Balance Fuel Your Brain

Appears in the Adulting Planner on:

"I should just stop what I am doing and take the time to eat" is NOT a reasonable expectation of yourself as someone with ADHD. You will experience overwhelming moments and periods of hyperfocus -- so prepare ahead of time to handle it successfully. Let's start with some basic truths about ourselves:

  1. Eating on a regular schedule helps your body regulate mood, and any medications you take. This is particularly true for any time-sensitive medications for ADHD, depression or anxiety.
  2. When you don't eat regularly due to hyperfocus, and you lose track of time, your body will feel sluggish once you do eat as your body works to get back to a healthy baseline.
  3. When you are overwhelmed by the decisions or prep involved to eat, you won't make good food choices and that will then affect the rest of the day. You will eat what is easy and then pay the consequence of feeling bad physically. 

Tricks that work!

Krissie (the artist) says: "I find if I preplan for the moments that hyperfocus or overwhelm might occur - then I can make better choices in the moment and will feel better."

  • Evaluate the times in your day or week that you find yourself in a food dilemma, make a proactive decision now before you get to those moments about how to handle them.
  • Make a list of easy meal options, and/or struggle meals. Keep this list handy in your phone or planner for easy reference on the fly.
  • Have certain ingredients on hand in your fridge, freezer or pantry that will create a better quality meal. (ex: Canned veggies, frozen veggies, pre-cooked protein, small frozen portions that defrost quickly)
  • Move your perishable food items to the most visible shelves in your fridge and on your counters.
  • The produce drawer in your fridge can be used for other things (condiments, beverage cans, meat) so that your perishable foods remain front and center — in sight, and in mind.

Don't overthink this or get too rigid.
A few more helpful thoughts:

It’s okay; you can still eat all your usual foods. This section is a gentle push to consider whether your choices are hurting or helping you meet your goals. If you eat a candy bar, your body will feel pretty good for about 20 minutes (yay! dopamine!), but 45 minutes later, you will feel tired and sluggish.  

High Quality Snacks

Eating higher quality food is key to maintaining balanced mood, health, and energy. Eating lean protein will give you longer burning fuel. Eating protein with higher fat content will slow you down as your body tries to digest it. With this in mind, it’s important to think about the snacks you eat.

Processed foods like potato chips, granola bars, and fast food will cause spikes in your energy levels. They hit your body and brain quickly, and you will run out of fuel too fast. Think about eating slower foods - food that needs preparation, cleaning or chopping, or time to ripen. A combination of protein, fiber, and carbs will give you the longest stretch of energy before you need to stop and refuel.

Drink More Water

Water is essential for life. Not drinking water can have significant consequences:  dehydration affects your thinking, energy, attention, and focus. It affects how you socialize, your mood, and your mental health. It also affects your physical health - dehydration makes your heart work harder and slows your pace and reaction times. 

Here are some small habits you can adopt to move the needle in the right direction:
  1. Drink lots of coffee, tea, or soda? Commit to adding one glass of water.
  2. Feel super tired after lunch? Add a vegetable to your lunch, eat the veggie first.
  3. Prep snacks at home so you stay away from drive-thrus and vending machines.
  4. Pair your usual snack with a protein so that you are fueled for longer.
  5. Take a 5-10 minute walk after eating, which will improve your digestion and bring oxygen to your brain.

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