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Thanksgiving Foods to Avoid With ADHD

So, here's the deal. Food cannot and should not be an "all or nothing." Some studies show that girls with ADHD are almost 4 times more likely to have disordered eating habits than their neurotypical peers. So we need to start shifting how we look at food. It is not a punishment or a reward. It is fuel. It is a medicine. And it is ok if your medicine does nothing more than give you a quick dopamine hit.

That said, some foods support our ADHD, and some worsen our symptoms. Awareness of these foods and their effects can help us make better choices. But should never be used as a reason to punish ourselves.

But here are a few Thanksgiving foods that are best enjoyed in moderation:

High Sugar, Artificial Dyes, Preservatives, and Allergy Triggering Foods

Apple Cider

Sweet Potato Casserole (with all of the marshmallow-brown sugar goodness)

Pecan Pie

Cranberry Sauce (as a side rather than a condiment)

Boxed Stuffing

Potatoes without the skin

A tried-and-true Minnesotan Green Bean Casserole

High-sugar foods and simple carbs and the resulting spikes in blood sugar result in more hyperactivity, more substantial crashes, impulsive behavior, and more inattention. All things that make our lives harder. Simple carbs and dairy are both allergy-triggering foods. Casein, a protein in milk, is also found to increase ADHD symptoms. This may sound like all the amazing, delicious foods we see on our Thanksgiving tables. The reality is no one expects you to not ever eat any of these foods again. This just isn't a sustainable way to view food. So eat your favorite slice of pie and enjoy your side of stuffing. But try to fill yourself up on those good-for-you foods rather than the foods that will make you feel anxious and distracted.

What should you fill your plate with?

High protein foods!

High-protein foods improve concentration and may increase the efficacy of your ADHD medication!

Herb-roasted turkey

Maple Crusted Walnut Salmon

Bacon and Apple Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Slow Cooker Pineapple Honey Mustard Ham

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs prevent blood sugar spikes and help with a better night's sleep. Complex carbs cover various foods, including nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Whole grain stuffing with added fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Butternut squash

Roasted vegetables

Whole grain rolls

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We love ourselves some Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are linked to brain health and are known to reduce ADHD symptoms. You can find them in some fish, nuts, and oils! *You can also take them in supplement form.

Maple Crusted Walnut Salmon earns a double spot on our list.

Tuna Green Bean Salad

Oatmeal Flax Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you take anything away from this post, let it be that food is a tool but shouldn't be weaponized. Use food as another aspect of your ADHD management. Figure out what makes you feel good, and do more of that. And be ok with letting yourself eat that piece of pie.

Resources and Read Mores:


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