I have been aware of the connection between ADHD and eating disorders for many years now. I first became aware of this relationship when assisting with a research study that examined the impact of a new medication in adults. On long term follow-up, one particular adult with celiac disease reported that her disease symptoms greatly improved when she was taking the medication versus the placebo. When we discussed why she thought this occurred she said that it was very obvious. When on the medication treatment she was able to resist her impulsive urge to drop into a McDonalds or other fast food restaurants, thus reducing flare-ups of her celiac symptoms. Now, years later and after attending presentation’s by Dr. Lance Levy (for CADDAC ) and by Dr. Brain Stonehawker (for CADDRA) on ADHD and obesity, the correlation between ADHD and eating issues seems like common sense.
A recent blog post by Dr. Mark Bertin (a featured speaker at our next CADDAC conference) directly links poor decision making around food with impaired Executive Functioning (EF) – poor planning and organization, as well as impulsivity, all symptoms seen in those with ADHD. Bertin also points out a link to emotional over-eating due to boredom, stress or overstimulation. Eating disorders associated with ADHD are not only those associated with impulsivity, such as binge eating and bulimia, but also the often overlooked anorexia – seen in those seeking order in their chaotic world. Poor decision making due to EF impairment - lack of thought and structure around meal and eating routines and even hyper-focusing can also lead to poor health even if weight is not an issue.
Dr. Bertin closes out the article with a list of useful strategies that he refers to as “mindful eating”.
To access Dr. Bertin’s full article visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-bertin-md/mindful-eating-adhd-and-n_b_7257190.html.