It has been argued that having a healthy body is a prerequisite for a healthy mind. Without having to argue with the classics, today we know about the importance of sugar levels on behavior and performance. It is no coincidence that these topics came up repeatedly when we spoke with our experts on ADHD about their recommendations for a more productive work life. Ask anyone who works at an office, and they’ll tell you that interruptions and multitasking kill productivity. For professionals with ADHD, the problem is even bigger, as the lure of doing multiple things at once is ever more enticing. In this article, our ADHD experts share their tips and knowledge on the topic.
Have healthy snacks at hand
Registered Dietitian Jackie Silver recommends keeping simple, quick snacks on hand: “A common struggle I hear from clients with ADHD is that they’ll get a strong hit of hunger where they must eat something right now but don’t have anything healthy prepared, so they are more likely to grab whatever is available, which tends to be processed foods. I recommend keeping simple, healthy snacks available for when hunger strikes, such as protein bars, cheese slices, pre-chopped fruit or vegetables, hummus, whole wheat pita, or hard-boiled egg.” As they say,
Furthermore, Silver asks to pay attention to the combination of various food groups: “Pair a protein with a high-fiber carb for healthy snacks to balance blood sugars and keep you energized and focused. Pairing protein with a fiber source for snack helps balance blood sugars and prevent the mid-afternoon slump. This is especially important for folks with ADHD, who can lose attention quickly. Try pairing hard-boiled eggs with whole grain toast, nut butter with apple slices, or veggies with whole wheat crackers and hummus.”
Monitor your sugar levels
To this point, integrative psychotherapist Sofia Souiri explains the mechanism by which sugary snacks can seem a short term boost, but end up being counterproductive: “Low blood sugar is a major factor contributing to hyperactivity and ADD, predominantly caused by taking refined sugars which are absorbed rapidly, and which cause a large insulin response that in turn lowers the blood sugar levels.” She goes on to recommend keeping a journal of foods consumed to notice their effect: ”Food allergies are also a major consideration. We can find the connection between poor behavior and specific foods by keeping a list, noting any changes with particular foods.”
Make exercise part of your routine
When used wisely, social pressure can be a source of good. Sarah Spear of Empowered Together likes to incorporate fitness in a way that plays to one’s own strengths: “One marketing executive with ADHD knew she performed better when daily physical activity was part of her routine. She also knew that she lacked the motivation to follow-through on her fitness goals. She formed an exercise crew that gathered at 5:30am in her basement gym. She is a people-person, and this opportunity to host and interact with her friends fueled her to get out of bed and workout four mornings each week.” Try to make accommodations to your current routine that make the healthy habit a default, not an option.
Aniko Dunn, licensed Psy.D. with EZCare Clinic, also recommends exercising every day: “It keeps the brain in better form, which in turn helps with your work/life balance and overall well-being. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which helps with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine in the brain than normal,” and exercise can help with that.
Final snack for you
This article is part of a series on living with ADHD for successful business professionals. We’ll keep sharing new ideas to help you stay focused on high-impact work.
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