Ok What Next?

Updated on January 14, 2009
S.B. asks from Spokane, WA
19 answers

I got alot of good responses to my question about my angry ADHD child. I have been thinking on this diet thing and food alergies ect. He is 10 I am pretty consistant with things and things are not working. I would love as much info as I can get on food alergies, dye's in food and anyone with children on stratara. Our Dr. says that the drug can cause agresive behavior or something like that. Anyone see this happening? Has anyone tried taking out certain foods ect? I am on a very low income so I do not always have the ability to buy fresh or organic foods. I do cook the dinners and make them as nutritianl as possible and I try to minimize the sugar intake with the kids but not a 100%. What do I do in the school and the outside the home situation? Any ideas let me know whats worked for the rest of you. I am willing to try anything! Thanx again

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answers from Seattle on

One of the best things to do is to keep a log of everything he eats and a log of his behavior. Every time he has a negative reaction/breakdown/episode, write it in the log and look over the foods he has eaten that day. You will start to notice patterns. I self diagnosed the causes of my migraines in this way 10 years ago because my doctors certainly were not going to do it for me (they just wanted to give me drugs, not make them go away). Anyway, keeping a food/behavior log will not only help you, but it will help any doctor or nutritionist that you go see about this as well. Good luck



answers from Seattle on

You may want to go to the website www.emofree.com and Google
ADHD. You may find some good free help.

L. Crunick

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answers from Eugene on

Hi S., No FOOD ADVICE HERE.....My daughter has ADHD. She was not diagnosed until she was 12/13, which is the case for most girls. She was our first child and we were getting mixed messages at school. Ever since she started school she has been called “overly social”, and we have been told things like: that she raises her had out of turn, and doesn’t stay in her seat, but is very enthusiastic. However, she would come home every day and just have a huge melt down. It was like she was trying so hard to be as “good” as possible at school and then the minute she walked through the door we got the blow up of her emotions.

Finally, when she went to middle school, we realized that she was maturing at a slower rate than her peers. We have been told that most kids with ADHD are 2 to 3 years behind socially (one reason not to get there drivers license at 16). Some teachers who had a lot of energy and were more flexible loved her but those that were more strict had a very difficult time with her.

We finally took her to our Dr. and she referred us to a psychologist. We started her on Adderall and the initial dosage was way too high, she was totally zoned out. So we lowered the dosage and for the first time in her life she had what we considered amazing yet small victories: she was able to find her own shoes, clean her room with out help etc.

A couple of things that I have learned a long the way, noise/distraction is good for them when doing school work. We tried for years to have her sit at the table and do her school work and it was terrible for her. Yet when she is able to listen to music or have the TV on, or both she can concentrate and get her work done. She is even allowed to listen to her IPOD while taking tests during school.

Also, in Oregon most schools and teachers, Dr’s etc. will not tell you about this, but there is something called the 504 plan. This is how you go about getting one: You speak to the school counselor and tell him/her that your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or any other medical diagnosis and that you would like a 504 plan. They will then set up a meeting with you and all of the teachers. Come prepared with ideas that you would like to see done during the day. During this meeting brainstorming will be done and a contract will be signed. This contract is legally bound that the teachers must follow the rules of the contract. That is why it is not spoken about. However it has been very helpful for my daughter and gives me leverage with the teachers when needed. This contract can be updated as needed and the counselor is your child’s advocate. However, some of the things that I have written in the contract my daughter doesn’t not know about so that she will not take advantage of it. She is a 10th grader now, and in the contract it is written that she has extra time to turn in school work and projects if needed. She is not aware of this, because I don’t want her to slack off. Yet, it is helpful, when she becomes too overwhelmed.

Anyway, I hope this helps. If you need to contact me for more info please feel free. ____@____.com.

I have been lucky with the food issues. My daughter eats better than I do. She loves all vegetables, whole grains, herbal tea, water, no caffeine etc. She has been like this since she was a baby. As far as sports goes, she has played soccer all year long since she was in the 5th grade. It is her greatest passion.
Best of luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richland on

Hey S., I can only comment on the meds because i have no idea about the food issues. We adopted our second son at age 9 and he has ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome, reactive attachment disorder and at the time had severe anger issues. He was a foster child. Anyway, I talked to the Dr. about the issues he had and after switching and trial and error we came up with Adderall. He is now 13 and weighs 98lbs. His meds are as follows: He takes Adderall 20 mg, 2 pills in the morning when he wakes up, Clonidine at noon at school (we no longer need it at home at noon) to focus, and Clonidine 1 1/2 pills and Melatonine 3 mg at bedtime. He was taking a different med in the AM and was so rude and unruley when he came home from school. The Dr. suggested the Aderall to help with the rudeness and anger.....I guess it lasts longer throughout the day. He was a totally different kid. He really needed structure and routine too to help him know what was going to happen when he got home from school. I read your first post but can't totally remember what all it said. Anyway, I would suggest talking to your son's Dr. about the adderal, it has been a life changer for my son....and mine!! Good luck! Remember...YOU ARE A GOOD MOM!!



answers from Portland on

I have an ADHD child, matter of fact 3 altogeather as the Father is ADHD which is ususally the case. My child has angry outbursts too. He is 10. The angry outbursts are not unusual with an ADHD child. There normally is some behavoral problems. Two of my children take Concerta 54 mg. once a day. Both kids have anger problems but one way more than the other, it has alot to do with personality type too, the one that doesn't have as much anger problems is a more mild personality and emotional like me, the one with a bad anger problem, gets very upset easy with routine changes, etc so it is very hard. I am at the end of my Bahelors Degree in Psychology. I have an Associates in Criminal Justice so I have learned alot about these kids. I had to too survive. If you want support and want to write me my email is ____@____.com



answers from Portland on

Our youngest is 5. Our naturopath just did some food allergy and food sensitivity tests on him. Because the test results would take 2-3wks to come back, she started our son off on DHA gels and intrakid liquid vitamins. These two supplements helped a lot. His teacher has noticed a huge change in him. I also make sure he has some type of protein before he goes to school.

Since then, we have the test results and have began the process of food elimination. It is difficult to start because he is used to certain brands of foods, but introducing new ones is getting easier. We don't tell him it's a new brand or different food than he normally has, we just give it to him. He understands that he has food allergies and knows what he's not supposed to have.
The main food additives and colorings we keep him away from is Red dye #40,and nitrates.
It's not necessary to get organic foods even without a tight budget. It helps, but most of the problems are with the meats, packaged and processed convenience foods.
I recommend Foster Farms for all chicken and turkey. Stay away from Safeway brand packaged meats. They have colorings and salt added. (We found out the hard way.)Also, when I purchase canned foods, I always look for the ones that have less ingredients without too many additives. We also get canned fruits that have sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup. (Sometimes you have to pick your battles with ingredients.)

As for the medication, our son isn't on any and doesn't require any. If a side effect is agressive behavior and he is exhibiting this then change it. The aggression isn't acceptable and it probably makes your child feel awful. Help him to feel better.
A psychiatric doctor once told me is it's not all about changing food, it's about the entire recipe that encompasses a person's life. If one recipe doesn't work (the drug) then change it. Keep doing this until you find the right one.
I wish you well and pray that your son feels better soon.



answers from Portland on

Hi S.,
My brother is a specialist with children in adhd, having three boys himself, I am sure that is what helped mold his career. Anyway, if you would like you can email me with some specific questions and I would love to help. I do know that my brother has had to try several different meds with his children. I know how challanging it can be. I have a duaghter with autism and the behavior can really make us feel so wiped out! I know there are things you can do to help. Feel free to email me. ____@____.com



answers from Portland on

I haven't looked at your previous responses, but I am a special ed teacher and principal. Cutting down on sugar is good, increasing good starches like vegetables...you don't need organic...there are lots of behavioral things to try... for school, work with the teacher and perhaps a chart of smiley faces when he does well, hour by hour, same at home--if he gets a certain number of them per day, he wins something he wants..time on computer..something not expensive.. he has to want it for this to work,...if it's dessert, maybe diet jello or half diet,half regular or fruit coctail in juice...again..he has to want it... if he doesn't get the agreed on number of happy faces.. you and the teacher can decide.. I would NOT suggest any punishment like takeing away recess.. maybe he goes to bed a half an hour earlier.. something like that.. it makes him responsible for his own behavior..that's the key.. he has to begin to observe himself and regulate...and there are plenty of other meds if you have concerns about Stratera...although I have not heard of behavioral concerns..that is supposed to be the best, but ask your Dr. about some others...if you are going to use meds, some sort or organized plan and schedule must be implemented at the same time.. good luck.. and increase his exercise if you can.. sometimes they outgrow it in puberty...or not...but most of all..have fun with him...Pam



answers from Portland on

my one son he nineteen now thank goodness, anyway he had ADHD, no drugs given, alot to understand with this I know one thing I did find out was he done wrong in his schooling too was because he was (delexes spelled wrong) but its where they read letters backwards and it confuses them they can not get people to listen to them they get angry and bother some they need lots of activity with some one as a one on one with them to wear them out.
hard at times to do but being strict and loving, much patience hope you find lots of help
S. L. Vancouver,Wa.



answers from Bellingham on

S., I just want you to know that I feel your frustration. I have 3 kids all with special needs. My oldest (14) is bipolar, misdiagnosed for a few years as ADHD, my middle child (13) has a mood disorder (blanket term for bipolar), and my youngest is ADD - impulse control. I have done the Stratera thing with my oldest and it did cause him to be more irritable and aggressive but it was my understanding that was because of his bipolar disorder and not being on an appropriate mood stabilizer. As far as the red dye thing....I went through that with my stepson, who had severe ADD as a child, it didn't seem to make much of a difference, especially considering how many foods contain red dye and the expense of cutting those foods out (they typically are the cheaper of the staples).



answers from Seattle on

Always read the labels of anything you buy. The ingredient that is listed first is the one that has the largest percentage of the package. And so it goes with the rest of the ingredients.

Anything with dextrose, fructose, or sucrose is sugar. The higher in the list it is, the more of it you have. Avoid as much sugar as you can. Cut out the pop. No catch up.

Cut down on the salt also, if you can. Don't use that salt substitute for cooking, use more spices. You can use the salt substitute on cold food.

Don't do this all in the same week. Your family will go into shock. It will take three weeks or more to adapt to no sugar and the same to no salt. Plan it out ahead of time.

Take out things like hot dogs, sausages, bacon--the nitrates are a big no, no for kids with behavioral problems or allergies.

Eat as much wild fresh fish as you can. Give him fish oil capsules. They are expensive, but if you only give him one a day they will last a longer. They made a huge difference in my ability to concentrate.

If the drug your son is taking makes your son aggressive, ask your doc what else is available, and tell him how much trouble you are having.



answers from Portland on

my totaly fine little boy (3 1/2 years)was a good boy all around.... attention, learning, socialy ect. Then there was this pretty significant switch in behavior. He was unruely and then stared hitting, he stoped using his wourds to solve his 3 year old problems and was more and more voilent everyday.

I had no clue as to what was going on and if this was just a phase. Then one day he had a mint at a resturaunt it was red. and the behavior incresed that night and the next day. (this was back in june) I talked to my mom and told her that i thought that he was alergic to red food coloring and her face went white. It turnes out that they had found a 24 box of candy canes from x mas. and ever tues and thurs when he was over there he would have one for snack... we stoped that right away and he hasn't used hitting for anything since. It was very evedent that the red food coloring had a significant impact on his coaping skills and attention!

sorry about the spelling but I wanted to tell you that but i don't have the time to spell check

good luck, Diet is a major thing for these little guys.



answers from Medford on

Hi S.,
Try taking red dye out of his diet...
About 10 years ago, my son was tested for ADD. I didn't think he was ADD, just hyperactive and that is what the testing concluded also. Anyway, at that time, due to some personal circumstances surrounding their bio-dad, I was advised by an attorney to take them to counseling. I spoke to the counselor a little about his behavior and she suggested taking red dye from his diet. (He was never an angry kid, just go go go all the time.... and some problems with grades in school)
That included kool aid, jams, jellies and even ketchup...anything with red dye.
It made a pretty big difference, at least I thought so and after about 6 - 8 months I started re-introducing it to him again and he seemed fine, especially after puberty.
It worked for us...good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I have had some experience and some victories in this area.

In my research to help my child and a friends child I have found grains and dairy to be the biggest offenders.
corn, dairy and gluten can be very difficult for a child to break down. We had my daughter tested and found she is gluten intolerant and highly allergic to corn.

If testing is not an option right now, I suggest removing gluten (wheat , rye and barley) from the diet.
You can do brown rice, certified gluten free oats, quinoa, buckwheat, tapioca flour, potato and bean flours - there are many gluten free recipes out there. It would mean cooking from scratch a lot more and spending a little more time in the kitchen.

Dairy should be removed - you can use almond mlk, rice milk, coconut or palm oils in lace of butter- this is hard, especially if you use a lot of cheese , fortunately for us, we are able to do dairy now but even if it is a gluten and not dairy allergy, getting off of the dairy helps speed the healing.

corn- some who are gluten intolerant can do corn, some cannot. corn is hard to digest so for the purposes of figuring out what is going on, it does not hurt to remove it. Corn in the form of maltodextrin is a huge problem for my daughter so you want to look for hidden sources.

Don't forget to check medications and supplements you might use for corn, dairy and gluten ingredients.

I would do my best to stay off of all three for about 3 months. Then introduce corn or dairy (only one thing at a time) give it to him a few times in the week and take note of any behavioral changes or any physical issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.)

If there are problems remove that from his diet and go on to the next food group and note any changes there .

I recommend two books :

**STOP A.D.D. Naturally

**G.A.P.S. Gut and Psychology Syndrome

I have to run for now but would love to share more of m experiences with you. Feel free to contact me at
____@____.com and I can give you some more information and let you know what I was experiencing and what changed- also my experiences with doctors and learning what to ask , etc. . .
hope this helps,




answers from Eugene on

Also remember that white flour breaks down into the bloodstream like sugar. This can agrivate hyperactivity a lot!



answers from Seattle on

When my daughter was on Kepra, I researched throughout the internet for information on Kepra side-effects and found a lot of information that way. I'm sure you could do that for Stratara.

If it IS food, and you take out the offending item, such as food coloring or sugar - you should see a difference fairly quickly - in about 1 - 4 days. Watch the breads - try to buy breads without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. I noticed almost all the breads have it in it now. You can try one thing at a time, until the offending food is found. Try to find breads and baked goods where the only ingredients are wheat (unbleached) and recognizable ingredients. I myself can't tolerate a lot of the chemicals they put in foods now. It stresses out my immune system making me very cranky.

Make sure he gets flax seed or fish oil to help his mind, and give him a nutritional supplement as well.

The other thing is, ADHD kids are often that way, because they are high energy, but not getting enough exercise. Make sure your son exercises every day. We take walks in the rain! Also, if he is angry, make sure he's not listening to angry music. A lot of people overlook how much the media affects children! The angry music makes people angry. Rock is angry and so is rap. A lot of the movies boys like to watch are terrible in what they feed the minds with. The violence is appalling - especially compared to what teenagers were watching in the 70s. So are the video games. They are AWFUL! When I was young we didn't have video games. The first person shooters scare me. I wonder how many murders they will cause.

Also, if those things don't seem to be a problem, there are people for example in the Handle Institute who know how to work with a child to get him/her mind/body connection together so they are no longer ADHD. ADHD doesn't necessarily mean angry. I've known a lot of ADD and ADHD kids and they are NOT angry. I've worked with them as a teacher and haven't seen that connection.

You don't have to buy organic - just buy unprocessed foods. Make sure you cook dinner yourself to avoid food chemicals. It's unfortunate that nowadays you have to spend more to eat properly. I still don't know why even the schools think that their lunches are nutritious. I look over 1 week at my daughters' schools and know that hot dogs, pizza, corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, etc. are not nutritious foods - but they are served every day.

I make my daughters lunches because of it.

Wenda C was right on the money as well.

You may also want to check him for Hypoglycemia. Make sure he eats regularly. Blood sugar drops can cause rages in children, as well.



answers from Spokane on

Hi S. - I agree that you need to keep a journal of food intake (including what type & how much) as well as behavior. You may notice a trigger right away. If you do start to take out foods only do one at a time and allow several weeks before you take out the next one.

Check with your medical coverage & make an appointment with the allergy specialist & have them run tests. That too may help save time & energy if they can pinpoint something quickly. But many times they may not be testing for some chemicals such as food coloring so it goes back to the journal. Work with his teachers & let them know what you are trying to do, I am sure they want to see a solution as well.

Also before you do any gluten free diet read up on as much as possible. A friend of mine had to do that for her special needs daughter & it was a long process of self education and planning to make sure the meals were correct. She also got testing done before so they could compare the results after starting that special diet to check if it was working properly.

Having a low income or working on a tight budget can be a little more tough but when you start reading labels you will start to see what nasty stuff is in lots of products. Planning out the menus for the entire week and then going shopping will help save some money as well. An example of how to save a few dollars: 2 bags of salad is about $5 or $6. You can get lettuce (romaine is better than iceberg), carrots, mushrooms (add anything else that you like) and you will have a better salad for at least several meals and is less expensive in the long run. Here is an article from Parents magazine that is great about doing a food budget for a family on less than $100 per week (including some of the above advice): http://www.parents.com/family-life/work-money-politics/fa...

For the meds yes some of the side affects can make that symptom worse. I am hoping that a friend of mine will chime in with her expertise on that subject for you. Keep striving forward!



answers from Portland on

FEINGOLD DIET. It can make a huge difference in your and your son's life. It has for our family. Go to www.feingold.org and check it out. You can get the Feingold cookbook very cheap on half.com (it's out of print but can be had) you might also find the book at the local library. I can't stress enough how much diet can affect children. In particular the food colorings and additives. As for school and other situations, my daughter chooses not to eat it. I started when she was young helping her to make the associations between how she was feeling and what she was eating, which wasn't always easy at 4, but now she knows the consequences and chooses wisely, she doesn't want to feel angry and upset either.
We have made changes in diet for the whole house, if we're not in it together, it doesn't work. When she gets candy or treats outside the house, she can bring them home to "swap" for dye free natural stuff at home. As for avoiding the "expense" of buying stuff w/o food dyes, it seems like a no brain-er to me. What's the cost of the behavior to your child? Also, keep in mind it make take a few weeks to see results depending on how much your child has in his system. With adults the change can take weeks to over a month to notice, with kids it's usually a couple of weeks. You do have to be diligent and REALLY READ those labels. Red #40 is terrible stuff, made from a petroleum by product. Cook, lots. If you don't have time to cook every day, batch cook and freeze. Get books from the library on batch cooking and feingold diet, make the change and you will see a difference. We make most meals to save money (and frustrations), and don't buy lunch at school. EVER. My daughter is like Jekyll/Hyde when she eats food colorings and the additives from meats and breads. It's not in the sugar, but it IS in the corn syrup and the additives. Please investigate the Feingold program for your family and good luck! It can be done, it just takes some research and some will power. If you are already good at being consistent, then making the diet switch is not that big a step. If you join the (very cheap) online Feingold program, you can get recommendations on what you can eat, and where. Even fast food has options that are better than others when it comes to this. I do wish you luck, I feel blessed that I found the Feingold diet when I did for my daughter and myself. I am an adult with ADD that suffered through medications making me irritable, and over stimulated.



answers from Bellingham on

Hi S.,

It is the pits that eating healthy is expensive and eating badly is cheap. We all just do what we can. Here are a few ideas for healthy alternatives that are affordable. Stew meats are a inexpensive cut of meat, so if you have a crock pot, cook stews and soups and you can vary the vegetables to suit your families tastes. If you don't have a crock pot, you can cook it on low all day or night on the stove top in a covered pot of seasoned water, or even bake on 200 in seasoned water all day or night in a covered casserole dish in the oven. You can also use stew meat or hamburger to make chilis also.

Learning to read all labels and avoid preservatives and things you can't pronounce or don't know what they are, is invaluable. Avoiding as many chemicals that you can will also do wonders for chemical sensitive kids. Use glass instead of plastic whenever you can for food storage and serving. Get rid of all your teflon pans, they are slowly poisoning you. Most all grills, waffle irons, muffin tins etc are teflon lined. Switch to glass or cast iron as you can afford to. Watch for the phrase, non-stick.

If you kids will eat broccoli, that is a vegetable that is naturally resistant to bugs and therefore low on pesticides. Organic lettuce is usually only a little bit more than non organic. Tomatoes and celery are high in pesticides, over 30 different ones are used believe it or not, so avoid them in the winter if you can't afford to buy organic. I subscribe to a health newsletter and he has many great ideas on healthy eating and he published a list of which vegetables are highest in pesticides and herbacides and which ones you don't have to worry about as much. His web address is www.mercola.com and an excellent source for all medical questions as well.

Farmers markets in the summer months are actually much cheaper than shopping at the store because the middle man is cut out. They are usually organic and always fresh so if you are able, they are great in the late spring, summer and early fall. If your kids will eat salads, you can put all sorts of different green leafy vegetables in a salad without them even know it. Spinach, kale, cilantro, I even put in cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, nuts, a little fruit, and everyone loves my salads. The more colorful the better. I can't always get organic vegetables, like I said, just do what you can.

Things that come in a package may seem cheaper, but the quality of their ingredients, and the preservatives and additives make it much more expensive in the long run with the toll on your and your son's health. I know they are convenient, but having a hot bubbling stew in the crock pot ready when you get home from work is even more convenient and so much better for you and your family.

My family loves tacos as a quick meal when I fail to plan ahead. I make my own seasoning with salt and pepper, chili powder and paprika, garlic and onion powder, and a little bit of cumin. That way I avoid all the additives in the packaged flavoring, and once you taste your own, you will never go back to the package. Plus all your spices will last tons longer than a package of seasoning so are cheaper in the long run. Hamburgers are another inexpensive meal, I don't usually serve with buns, but you certainly can, but season them with salt, pepper, chili powder, onion & garlic powder and paprika, and your family will rave. no filler or egg is needed, it is delicious and more nutritious on it's own.

You will notice that I use similar spices in my recipes, well those spices work great on any meat, chicken, pork, fish, beef, anything. The cumin gives anything mexican that mexican flavor, even salsa and guacamole.

Planning a weekly menu was really helpful when I was working. I would make out my list of the dinners I wanted to make that week, shop for all the ingredients on the weekends, and have each night assigned to a certain meal. That way there wasn't that panic at dinner time of what to eat that night.

When your kids are away from you, like at school, their diets are much higher to control, but if you can get your kids to pack a lunch, and talk with them about healthy and junk foods, it may be helpful. Children learn so much by example, if they see you eating healthy, they will eventually want to as well. Not to say they won't indulge in the candy and snacks passed around at school, but there really isn't anything you can do to control that. Hopefully it isn't a daily occurrence though and the healthy meals and snacks you pack for them will counteract the occasional sugar binge at holidays. If their teacher rewards with such snacks, perhaps talk to them about providing some other alternatives. Little trinkets like cute pencil tops etc are great alternatives that kids love.

Watch for things you can get cheap in bulk and freeze for later use. The farmers Market on Birch Bay Lynden Rd has a great U pick organic blue berry patch that I love in the late summer early fall. The kids love the all you can eat aspect of them :) and I get as many blueberries I can pick for a buck and a half a pound. I managed to get about a 5 gallong bucket's worth last summer and froze them in gallon ziplocks in my freezer. They are great to just eat frozen as a snack with some nuts, or mix in pancakes, or put in hot cereals to cool them down. :) Plus it was great fun to go to the blueberry patch as a family and pick them We would usually spend an hour or so there, and went probably half a dozen times to get enough to fill my freezer. I also found people that weren't picking their apple trees, and offered to harvest their apples for them, and cut and froze apple pieces. Voila! Free apples. They make great applesauce and the kids also enjoy munching on them frozen. I have a juicer so I use them to make my own unpasteurized apple juice as well. Any wild berries freeze great too.

It does take a little more effort and planning, but it certainly helps the check book. I hope some of this helps. Best wishes and regards.


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