By Jonathan Chesner, author of ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild
Whattup Free Spirit peeps. Parents and teachers, this is a special post for the teen students in your lives. It’s okay for you to read, too, but please pass it along to someone who could use it!
School has started, and I could write about all the hidden dangers you’re likely to deal with during the school year like math tests, bullying, unfair homework, etc. But I figured I’d blow the doors on a real silent-but-deadly threat to your life—nutrition.
I know that poor nutrition isn’t good for anybody, but it’s even worse for special brains like those of us with ADHD. It took me years before I finally learned not to snack on candy/energy drinks/fast food/soda. For as long as I could remember, I had a pretty regular cycle of eating something that tasted delicious, feeling like crap a few hours later, saying “never again,” and then repeating the cycle a few days later. In college, my early morning surfing breakfast was an energy drink and banana chocolate chip muffin . . . at 6:00 a.m.! One day a few years ago I just was like, “You know what, how many times am I going to keep feeling like crap?”
I made a point to cut down on the bad and bring in healthy stuff to my diet, and since that day I have tons more energy, focus, and productivity. Unfortunately, I still need to be vigilant about what I want and what I need. I may WANT some crispy chicken tenders, but I NEED fruits and veggies and not a lot of fried stuff.
Here are three good reasons to kick up your nutrition for this school year:
- Eating better makes your brain feel good. If you have ADHD, think about the last time eating anything artificially colored or flavored made you feel focused and alert. Probably never. Any sports drink straight-up makes me want to jump off the walls. I’m sure non-ADHD brains probably don’t think too well on soda or energy drinks, either, but my ADHD brain gets way more distracted or thought-blocked. I like thinking clearly. It’s kind of a good skill to have when it comes to math problems or talking to someone you have a crush on.
- Eating better makes your body feel good. It’s kind of scary how many people I know with cancer, diabetes, heart problems, etc. I’m not saying that eating better will ensure you a lifetime free of problems, but your brain, muscles, and heart all put out what they take in. I’m all for a random treat now and then, but over time, eating a ton of junk will make your insides become junk.
- Eating better makes you look good. High school is a tough time, period. Pimples, body issues, hair showing up in weird places . . . ain’t no fun! When it comes to pimples, they can be caused by lots of random things (stress, hormones, etc.). Diet may or may not be the cause of breakouts, but adding things like salmon and cutting out simple carbs can help tame your face bumps. Also, drinking a ton of water helps, too!
So there you have it, a sure-fire way to improve your school year. If you are already eating well, and this is nothing new to you—high-five! But for everyone else, I hope you make the switch (I’m so glad I did). Remember: when it comes to school, the days are long, the tests are tough, and lunchtime has drama. So try to maintain your A-game by eating right.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
Jonathan Chesner was diagnosed with ADHD at age 9, and since then he has tried to use his special powers for good (like being creative and energized) instead of evil (like getting sent to the principal’s office). He started acting at age 18, and appears in national commercials, including a campaign for Jack in the Box that aired during the Super Bowl, and in television shows such as Veronica Mars and Bones. Jonathan grew up in San Diego, California, and lives in Los Angeles, California.
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