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Orange Alert: Two ADHD Stories

ADHD: It’s the Food, Stupid! That was the headline of a story on the connection of food and the diagnosis of ADHD in commondreams.org. In North America, 10% of kids ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, and more than three million are on medication for their symptoms.

The study by Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands is the first to conclusively say that diet is implicated in ADHD. “Food is the main cause. After the (new) diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior.” The study found that in 64% of children with ADHD, the symptoms were caused by food.

Says Pessler: “With all children, we should star with diet research.” If so, it sure beats the medication side effects. These include sleeplessness (then sleeping pills prescriptions), headaches, stomachaches, decreased appetite, feeling helpless, hopeless and new or worsening depression. Three years on Ritalin and children were also about an inch shorter and 4.4 pounds (10 kg) lighter than their peers. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2007).

There have actually been multiple credible scientific studies linking diet and ADHD diagnosis. In Pessler’s study, the children were placed on a restricted diet consisting of water, rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots, pears, and other hypoallergenic foods. That meant these children were getting no, or very few, food additives.

It’s hard to do, and shouldn’t be done without medical professionals and their advice. But, and it’s just my opinion, it seems a lot safer than altering a child’s brain chemistry with pharmaceutical drugs. No, it won’t be easy. Easy is a pill a day…

And let’s be honest: By the time these (mostly) Orange children are adults, most everyone else wishes they had some of the traits that make Orange adults who they are!
Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD: This second story on ADHD comes from a book by Marilyn Wedge, entitled: A Disease Called Childhood.

In North America, almost 10 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD. In France, it’s half of one percent! Does that make any sense? In North America, it’s considered a biological disorder with the preferred treatment also being biological – psycho stimulant medication like Ritalin and Adderall.

In France, ADHD is viewed as a medical condition, not a biological disorder. That has French doctors looking for the underlying issue causing the child distress: Not in the brain, but in the child’s social context. That includes foods, specifically artificial colors, preservatives, and/or allergens. The focus of the French medical manuals is on identifying and addressing the underlying causes. The U.S. DSM specifically does not consider these. Bad for kids – great for the drug industry.

In general, French (and other European) parents are much stricter in comparison to the average North American parent. Children don’t snack when they want – if ever. Meals are at four specific times, and kids learn incredibly early (and all through childhood) to wait for the meal – no junk food when they feel like it. (see Pamela Druckerman’s book: Bringing up Bebe). The broader European parenting philosophy is of consistently enforced limits. They use the word “no” a lot and children learn very early in life how to self-control themselves.

Is that part of the solution? Is it at home or in the medical approach? Is it about the food additives? Is it partly the school system reducing the time children spend in physical activities? Only parents can make the decision for their child. But hopefully, medication isn’t the starting point…

PS: The issue of Oranges being labeled with ADHD is in the Colorful Personalities book (in the Orange chapter and the Orange kids chapter)

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Colors quotes answer key: Blue – Gold – Green – Orange


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