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Can i ask if your child has lots of sugar do they show worsening symptoms please

poppppy profile image

Hi my child can eat two ice creams and then a chocolate bar on the run . Will that affect her aggressive outbursts . Also she won't eat her meals is this because she is full on sugar.

She is on her iPad for over 3 hours a day and before bed .Will this stop her sleeping or contribute to her meltdowns.

She plays out only once a week and sits most of the time . Will this exacerbate her adhd .

I wonder because specialist wants to start her on medication but I worry that some natural changes should be tried first as she is quite high functioning at school. But has melt downs .They want to start her on atomexotine .she is diagnosed high functioning autism also .

Thank you for your help

16 Replies

Sugar does not seem to make any difference either way with my son.

I know others have kids on special diets that seem to really help, so there may be something to it.

poppppy profile image
poppppy in reply to EJsMom

Thank you for your reply . Very kind of you . Is there anything you find helps.

I have to admit I am not as familiar with autism, as I am with adhd. I haven’t tried any specific diet. Possibly you could search on this site for ‘diet’ and probably find other posts. I know someone uses vitamins and supplements and has had success.

poppppy- welcome to the group. It sounds like you have a lot of good questions about parenting. We are not ones to limit our child within reason, A treat 2-3 times a week is plenty for us our son would eat them 3 meals a day or more. As far a sugar intake, we do not see a difference when he takes sugar in. From my research, ADHD is a neurological disorder and therefore sugar would not impact it. Now exercise is another story. Yes the amount my son gets impacts his behavior, if he does not have a daily outlet there are always problems. He has to get his energy out.

Also, we have found the more electric/screen time he has the more disrespectful he is and the worse his behavior is, so we limit it, by saying NO and taking it away.

Here is something that is often not talked about. Kids with ADHD he hyperfocused on something (Ipad, any task they love at the momment) then we come in and try to stop them from doing that and for them they can't shift from what they were focused on to do something else. When we tell them " In 5 min. we are going to... the 2 min. before say ("In 2 min...) so that this transition is much easier, then they are not surprised.

I would recommend you making her day very structured and not include electronics and introduce a sport she would really like.

Hope this helps.

Nla1 profile image
Nla1 in reply to Onthemove1971

Great reply. Great advice. Our little guy is always outside and plays every sport- they need high impact physically outlets!! Sugar unfortunately makes our son worse... makes him emotionally high and low 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Best of luck to us all.

Starting my son on Neurofeedback next month. After loads of research I love the results; huge improvement regarding their focuse and impulse control with no side effects.. I believe that the human brain is incredible and can’t wait to see how he does with these treatments.

Look into it:

Drake Institute


Hi onthemove . Thank you so much for your reply. Brilliant advice .

Can i ask though why you say because it's a neurolical disorder sugar won't impact it . Do you mean because it can't be cured . And is not caused by diet .

I didn't mean it could be caused by diet . I just meant as food is used by the brain to function and is effectively absorbed and used just like drugs are to function . Then does sugar worsen or improve function when people have adhd in anyone's personal experience

Because sugar impacts metabolism, when you eat things like carbohydrate you body turns them into sugars so it's not just about the sugar your child eats it's about a balance between protein, vegetables and a decrease in carbs and sugars.

But ADHD is a neurological condition

which effects dopaminergic neural pathways which appears to be delayed in children and adolescents and dopamine receptor and transporter molecules which are typically lower in some parts of the brain in adults with ADHD.

Does this make sense? These are brain issues which has nothing to do with how much sugar your body takes in. There are structures and hormones inside your brain.

Love the advice about telling him 5 minutes left ,then 4 ,then 3 . And reasoning behind . Thank you so much .

Hello! I've had to limit my sugar intake since I started Concerta in second grade, but that's only because it messes with the effectiveness of my meds. The frequency of the light waves emitted by electronic screens stimulates the brain and helps balance out the hormones, but those light waves can also cause insomnia, especially in teenagers because there is already less melatonin (a hormone that makes sleep happen) being produced in the brain. The melt downs are probably due to the way her brain is functioning because of the ADHD. I remember having them before I started medication. It is completely up to you and your daughter whether you want to medicate or not. If you want to go a more natural treatment route, I suggest looking into essential oils that stimulate the brain such as eucalyptus or peppermint. Those have helped me in the past. You may also want to look into CBD oil. From what I've read online, it works wonders for ADHD. I personally haven't tried it, but the next time I see my psychiatrist I'm going to ask her about it and see what she has to say. I hope some of this information helped you!

Sugar doesn’t affect my son too much - sometimes a small amount actually helps. But if it was affecting his healthy meals, I would cut it back. Less screen time & more outdoors time does help. Though screen time & sugary treats do make great incentives.

I suspect these adjustments alone would not be as effective as if combined with medication. But worth a try if she has a mild case. Behavioral therapy &/or parent training could also be beneficial in helping with autism, possibly more so than with addressing the ADHD aspects.

Different from the other posters sugar has a big effect on my son, so we give him very little and not very often. It’s like he has trouble regulating his own blood sugar levels every day, he also gets angry and more impulsive any time he is hungry. He does the best if he eats every 3 hours, healthy meals and snacks as much as possible, with protein as a focus. Agree also to limit screen time (ours is just 20-30 min a week), use a countdown, maximize fresh air - recently I heard time outside called ‘green time’ instead, and I like to think of that when I plan his week.

I have 12 yr old b/g twins with ADHD with very different symptoms. I will focus on my daughter since she is the one with the sugar issue (combined type but more hyper. Gets good grades w/out meds). She loves sugar and there is basically no way, I feel I can take it away from her - Halloween, Valentine/s day, Easter, parties, summer, kids give it to each other on swim team as motivation, etc. She feels its a right of passage as a kid. It's impossible to keep her from having it because she truly doesn't get the connection,. It's not like being a diabetic. Ellen B. Littman, a psychologist with extensive experience has written so much on ADHD. Google her. CHADD also has some great presentations she has done. Sugar (as well as screen time) affects the dopamine in brains and gives an intense sense of pleasure. Most of my friends give their kids carte blanche with screen time. My kids don't have phones yet. I feel my son would be addicted and he also thinks he's a terrible person for liking it so much and has said he is addicted. Not sure how old your kid is but I would really try to moderate sugar and screen time - it gets so much harder to change behavior as they get older. Check out:

Forgot to add: I know several people with autistic kids who say strict diet really helps. Also, The Child Mind Institute in NYC has good information.

poppppy profile image
poppppy in reply to Chooser63

Thank you so much for this. I just wonder how people get their children to eat healthier food . I am thinking of getting sweets with no artificial colouring or favouring first . And fruit sugars maybe . Would love a site with ways to disguise vegetables too . Will start googling .Thank you

Due to the medical issue my son has he can not eat anything deep fried or spicy so we only eat healthy and my son always picks veggie and salad. Our treats also include dark Chocolate and pure organic items.

Best of luck.

Thank you for your answer . I will try organic treats . Thank you again

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