People with ADD often take medical stimulants or other prescription medications to help control their ADHD symptoms. Ironically, adults with ADD often complain of being tired or having low energy. While the various ADD medications can alleviate some of these symptoms, thanks to their stimulating effect, many times the boost can be short lived. Furthermore, for those ADDers who are currently not taking any medication or looking for alternative, natural ADD treatments, the stimulant solution offers little help.
As regular readers of this ADD tips blog know, I’m not one to really go in for pseudo-science or even limited empirical evidence. On the other hand, when I find something that helps me, I like to pass it along, just in case it would help others as well. I’ve stumbled upon something that helps with my energy in the morning and throughout the day that I wanted to share. Keep in mind that this is something that works on my ADHD and may or may not work on yours, although there is no down side if it doesn’t.
More Energy from Nutrition
When it comes to attention deficit disorder, or any other medical condition, the one almost universal constant is that better diet and nutrition, and regular exercise is helpful. While not a cure, exercise and diet make almost anything better, from diabetes, to cancer symptoms, to yes, ADD/ADHD, better nutrition and healthful exercise are always beneficial.
There is a trick to better nutrition, however, Like most folks, when I think of eating better I think about all of the things I should STOP eating. However, real nutrition comes from not just reducing the amount of junk food you eat, but also from increasing the amount of healthy things you eat. It turns out that eating more healthy stuff is actually harder for me than cutting out things. That’s because I actively dislike many healthy foods.
Stop eating nachos? Well… OK, if I must.
Eat this bowl of spinach? Eww, yuck.
Recently, however, I stumbled upon a wonderful little trick that lets me not only eat better nutrition, but do it quickly and painlessly, first thing in the morning when my nutrition needs the biggest boost.
There is a book out there, actually two books, about increasing health by reducing inflammation in the digestive track. One is called Clean, and the other is Clean Diet, I believe. (I’ll do a quick write up about them in a subsequent post.) These books greatly overreach in my opinion. However, my wife wanted to try out some of the concepts, and being a supportive husband, who frankly could stand to be in better shape, I went along.
One of the main things you do with this diet plan is to make nutritious shakes. The basic shake consists of nutrient rich leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and so on, some coconut or almond milk, combined with protein powder, some coconut oil (for taste and fat), and some fruit like bananas, apples or berries, along with a bit of ground flax seed.If you’re doing the math, you can see some pretty nice nutrition in this combination. You can also see that to actually eat this every day would not be fun. Eating it for breakfast would be even worse. But, by blending it into a shake, you can chug it down with your morning coffee.
Here is where it gets interesting. When I was doing this diet plan I never really thought much about it. However, when I stopped I noticed a sharp drop in my energy levels in the morning. These low energy levels are the reason I pound coffee like a camel gearing up for two weeks walking across the desert. (Camels drink a lot, right?) However, the energy is never really all the way there even if my mind is racing a bit. I always blamed my ADHD. After all, if it takes a boatload of Adderall to affect this brain, how much is coffee really going to help?
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As it turn out, I might just need a little more in the nutrition department. I tried just the shake, and blew off everything else from the diet and the energy returned. It’s gotten so I can actually feel the difference. I find that the secret ingredient is kale (specifically baby kale). While the shakes made with spinach and other greens are good, the ones with kale seem to be particularly effective. Experiment with your own combinations and see what works for you.
Healthy ADD Energy Shake Tips
- Use plenty of liquid. The difference between a juicer and a blender is pulp. Unfortunately, when making these kinds of shakes, the pulp is all the good stuff. That means this drink will not be smooth or pulp free. I said it was easy, not that it was yummy. I don’t like these shakes per se, but for just a few minutes of effort, the result it worth it. The more liquid you use, the thinner, and more drinkable your shakes will be.
- If you really don’t like the pulp, don’t use apples. Apples seem to resist blending the most of any fruit.
- If you don’t like the taste, add bananas. Bananas flavor is apparently pretty powerful. Throw a banana in your shake and most of the taste will be banana.
- Chug - this isn’t for pleasure. The taste isn’t phenomenal and the thickness isn’t fun either. But, if you chug your shake, you can be done with it in just a few seconds and go back to drinking your morning coffee.
- You’ll need a decent blender. — The gold standard in blenders is the Vitamix. However, at around $400, that’s the same price as a new TV. While a different blender will be louder and maybe not as perfect, it will do just fine as long as it isn’t some $40 Target blender. I shelled out for a Ninja blender which means that there is something in my kitchen named Ninja, and it does a nice enough job whacking all of this nutrition together.
Try out the shake idea with your favorite recipes and let me know what you find works (or doesn’t) for you.