ADHD and caffeine when combined might provide some interesting results that you might not have considered before. ADHD and caffeine also might possess some drawbacks if you don’t pay attention to how much you consume.
Due to many factors, it might be hard to remove caffeine completely from your diet. Should you want to, though? The intersection between ADHD and caffeine can be complicated. In this post, we try to help simplify this intersection.
Read on as we discuss the prevalence of caffeine in your life, the positives and negatives of that for your ADHD, and what you can do about it.
ADHD and Caffeine: Caffeine in Your Diet
As adults, most all of us wake up in the morning to a boost of caffeine in the form of coffee. In fact, USA Today recently had an article on coffee mania in America where they noted that almost 83 percent of adults in America drink coffee at some point in their day.
Any way you look at it that ends up being a lot of coffee. It’s not just coffee, though. Others of us live on caffeine, drinking much more soda or energy drinks than we should.
It turns out, there exists many surprising sources of caffeine in your life in both food and drink. Even if you wanted to, you would be hard pressed to avoid caffeine.
As either an adult with ADHD or a parent with a child with ADHD, you most likely already closely monitor your diet. After all, you should know by know that your diet affects ADHD. As a result, you should closely watch what you eat and drink.
ADHD and Caffeine: The Positives
Most of us might say that we drink coffee in the morning because the caffeine helps wake us up and get us focused. The role caffeine plays in increasing focus is an important element here. If coffee can help a person focus because of caffeine, what could the combination of ADHD and caffeine provide?
First, you should understand that caffeine acts as a stimulant and impacts your central nervous system. Prescription medications for ADHD act in similar ways and also serve as stimulants. This means that for many people with ADHD, caffeine can provide similar benefits to prescription stimulants.
Second, you need to know that while caffeine can act as a stimulant, it most likely won’t be your only solution. Caffeine can provide positives, but it also has side effects (to be discussed next).
Also, many people use caffeine to self-medicate ADHD, whether or not they realize it. We would never recommend this as you never can be certain how much caffeine you take and it can be hard to regulate.
Still, ultimately, caffeine does provide some positives. For those with ADHD, in some studies it has been shown that using caffeine for ADHD has had an impact on hyperactivity and function. Again, also, it acts as a stimulant and can improve attention and focus. In short, there does exist evidence that shows the positives of caffeine’s effect on ADHD symptoms.
On the other hand, though, caffeine acts as a drug to your body. Every drug brings side effects. When it comes to ADHD and caffeine, the negatives might outweigh any positives.
ADHD and Caffeine: The Negatives
Diet plays an important part for people with ADHD. Knowing how caffeine affects your ADHD should play an important role in how you plan your diet. While caffeine can increase focus and provide other benefits, there can also be side effects of too much caffeine. These side effects can be more pronounced for individuals with ADHD.
In spite of some benefits, studies have shown that caffeine ultimately does not provide an effective ADHD treatment. It might be used as part of your overall diet, but shouldn’t be depended upon alone.
Caffeine can increase agitation and fidgeting, especially in children. Additionally, caffeine can increase one’s heart rate and taken in large quantities especially later at night can cause insomnia. Taken in large quantities over time caffeine can produce nervousness and irritability.
Finally, caffeine typically provides only a short burst and quick reaction. This can cause a steep and quick drop off as well, which for individuals with ADHD might not be a good thing.
ADHD and Caffeine: What you Should Do About it
Hopefully you now have a better idea of the interaction between ADHD and caffeine. What should you do about it, though?
Take Care of What You Do Know
Surprisingly, while caffeine plays such a large role in our lives many of us do not understand all the sources of caffeine in our diet. Additionally, currently there exists no universal labeling standard for caffeine in the foods and drinks we consume. This means that even if you wanted to, many times you might not be able to know how much caffeine you consume in a bowl of ice cream or a single candy bar.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you have no control whatsoever. While you might not know all the amounts of caffeine you consume each day, you can know the big sources. Much of your caffeine intake comes from the obvious places. These include coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks.
For individuals with ADHD, you need to watch your diet, including caffeine. To tackle caffeine, don’t focus on what you don’t know but what you do know. Cut back on the foods and drinks with the highest amounts of caffeine.
If trying to reduce caffeine levels, cut back on sodas and candy and limit coffee to one or two cups a day. Such changes can have drastic impacts and will be more effective than trying to identify all the other sources of caffeine in your life.
Stick with Natural Foods and Ingredients
After taking care of what you do know, take care of what you don’t know by limiting processed foods in your diet. If you want to reduce caffeine consumption, try sticking to natural foods and ingredients.
Processed foods can be the largest sources of caffeine. While many natural foods contain caffeine, caffeine can be added in much larger quantities to processed foods. Eliminating many processed foods helps you manage in your diet.
The all-natural diet approach can provide you many more benefits than you might even realize. If you are concerned that limiting caffeine might reduce your energy, turn instead to natural ways to boost energy. Sleep and exercise both improve energy and focus.
They also have tremendous impacts on managing ADHD symptoms. We know that both physical activity improves ADHD and a scheduled sleep regimen helps symptoms.
ADHD and Caffeine: The Final Story
Unfortunately, there most likely is no final story for ADHD and caffeine in your life. You will still be learning to manage both ADHD and caffeine intake levels after reading this post. Hopefully, though, you now have a better grasp on how caffeine impacts ADHD and what you can do about it.