In March of 2017 then Center Director, Stephanie Dunne, wrote an important article that remains pertinent in our work with families that are impacted by ADHD. The question is still being asked, so let’s see how we might respond to this question.
“Sugar-highs” occur when children bounce off the walls after eating large amounts of sugar…right? There is a common thought that sugar causes hyperactivity; however, the evidence is just not there. A number of studies have looked at whether sugar consumption causes behavior change, but the research shows that sugar has not been shown to affect behavior or cognitive performance.
Sugar crashes, however, are real. When children eat a large amount of sugar, there is a spike in blood sugar and then a subsequent drop, which can cause feelings of sudden fatigue, headache or irritability. These feelings of fatigue after eating a sugary breakfast can lead to a lessened attention span, as compared to when children eat a whole grain breakfast or no breakfast. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, can also have this effect.
Parents can help set up their children for success when going to school by feeding them a breakfast rich in whole grains, protein, and whole fruits or vegetables. The same goes for lunch; these same foods can help ensure that your child can stay alert in class for the second half of the day.