“Impulsivity is a key feature of ADHD, and this can cause a failure to inhibit eating behavior,” says Eric Hollander, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine and director of the Compulsive, Impulsive, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y. “The final result of this tends to be overeating.”
Luckily, those with adult ADHD can manage their weight by trying a few straightforward strategies.
Seek Medical Advice
Find out from your doctor whether you need to be on medication for your ADHD, which can not only help you manage ADHD symptoms but also stick to a healthy diet, according to Dr. Hollander. One of the primary effects of ADHD medications is to decrease impulsivity, including overeating, so being on the right medication can be helpful in putting a stop to weight gain.
To better manage adult ADHD symptoms, create with a daily schedule that includes structured activities as well as meaningful ones. This will enable you to stay busy and avoid boredom and distraction, which can often lead to overeating, explains Hollander. “Pursue other reward-seeking behaviors, such as reading, writing, or walking,” he says. Of course, the more calories you burn, the more control you will have over weight gain.
When it comes to preventing weight gain for adults with ADHD, Edward Hallowell, MD, a board-certified child and adult psychiatrist and author of two books on ADHD, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction, says that one of the easiest pieces of advice is also the simplest: To stick with a healthy diet, remove all the foods you might be tempted to overeat from your home, starting with junk food. “Also get rid of soda pop and fruit juice,” adds Dr. Hallowell. “Drink water or seltzer instead.” Adults with ADHD can also help prevent or lose extra weight by eating cereal or bread made from filling, fiber-rich whole grains, says Naheed Ali, MD, ADHD expert and the author of Diabetes and You: A Comprehensive, Holistic Approach. Whole grains serve a dual purpose. You avoid processed foods, which are linked to worsening ADHD symtoms, and you’ll lose weight while doing so, Dr. Ali says.