We have all gone after scrumptious confectionaries and delicious chocolates in childhood! Some, or probably, many of us, have carried the urge to gorge on ‘sugary foodstuffs’ into adulthood too! Apart from warning us about the risk of health issues, doctors do not condemn us for possessing ‘a sweet tooth’! In other words, it is a perfectly natural occurrence. Then, why should anyone be surprised that ADHD brains have a craving for sweets? It is because the craving is excessive in nature.
The ADHD brain asks for sugar all the time!
Does a normally functioning brain require sugar/glucose?
The answer is ‘yes’!
Glucose is the fuel for all your cells to remain active and function well. It is responsible for the activities of two crucial neurotransmitters in your brain. They are dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals secreted by the brain. They behave as messengers, carrying messages from one nerve to another in diverse regions of the body.
Dopamine and norepinephrine control your cognitive behaviors, moods, emotions, responses to pain, movements and actions, etc.
Dopamine, specifically, is the happy neurotransmitter. It rewards you when you do something well with feeling emotional well. For example, you store the lessons learned from good experiences in your brain, creating a motivation to do it again. It can motivate you to take up greater challenges where you feel the same emotional well-being. Over time, you it can help you learn to make good decisions and even acquire leadership qualities.
As dopamine secretion increases, you experience excitement, joy, exhilaration, etc. This enables sustained motivating behavior. At the same time, nothing goes overboard, because your normally functioning brain keeps everything under control.
How is the ADHD brain different?
Unlike the ADHD individual, neuro-typicals experience a sense of gratification even while completing mundane chores well. Their brains are not over-aroused. They do not become bored easily. In contrast, the ADHD brain remains unsatisfied and bored with tasks that offer no challenges. The symptoms display themselves easily. Attention wanders. There may be irritation, temper-tantrums, frustration, etc.
These are the signals to indicate that the ADHD brain is in distress. It is demanding glucose to activate dopamine secretion. This is possible when the ADHD patient consumes foods containing carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, cookies, sweets, etc. Carbohydrates convert into glucose rapidly.
The individual experiences suppression of restlessness. If you have noticed, ADHDers can eat continuously, they are not keen to adhere to set mealtimes.
Their brains are eternally seeking stimulation.
Another odd aspect is that ADHD brains become more active towards the evening. This is the time when the individual prefers to engage with social media, play video games or watch television. It does not help that the blue light emanating from these screens make the brain even more alert.
Naturally, the patient finds it difficult to sleep. Waking up early is also a problem. Such irregular patterns in the sleep-wake cycle have adverse effects on the family’s waking and resting hours.
The ADHD brain is continuously striving to self-regulate. Its stimulation needs vary by the neurotransmitter levels within it. Whatever is the case, it struggles to get its response right.
ADHD brains always wants something riskier, faster, funnier, bigger, louder, etc. There is no satisfaction at all!
However, the brain and body can only take so much. Over time, when everything gets to be too much, the sufferer becomes physically and emotionally overwhelmed. This is often seen as the crash.
Research shows that small amounts of sugar can help the ADHD brain function optimally. The overall goal is to find a balance to help self-regulate this dopamine seeking brain while fueling the energy needed to function optimally.
My suggestion is to keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel cognitively for that given day. When you have a few days logged, analyze it and see if there is a pattern.
Can you use it to help satiate your sugar craved brain and feel balanced?
If you have questions go to my website www.razcoaching.com and use the ASK Raz! Q&A. Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration. I post almost every day. There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.
Listen to Ross, a college student with ADHD, talk with Academic and Career Coach Michelle Raz of Raz Coaching about his Challenges with ADHD as a college student.
In this episode Ross and Michelle dig deep into his journey through figuring out what works for him to be a successful college student managing ADHD on his own. You will learn the words of advice Ross got to get through the boring and mundane work and how he had to look within himself to find solutions to his problems. The support source he has received enables him to face his failures and feeling of shame. Hear what it took to get him on a positive academic path.
A key takeaway for him and pivotal question he began to ask himself when procrastination and low motivation set in was:
“Where has this procrastination led me in the past and did I like that?”
Learn where this journey has taken him
Hear where he is now academically
This is a great episode for parents of ADHD college students and motivational for ANY current or future college student.
Please forward and share with someone you feel needs to hear Ross’ story.
I’d like to share with you a tool that I use with many of my clients. It’s an online planner. It’s a great tool if you need help with visual auditory and kinesthetic learning. It helps with motivation time management and just a great visual to get you started.
Each month the first step in using this planner is to create a Google spreadsheet. If you don’t have an account with Google, go ahead and make one. Once you have that account, then you will need to have all of your subjects or goals ahead of time so that you can put them across the top of the Google Sheet.
Once you complete this, color code them and then move on to the days the week on the left side of the spreadsheet. You’re going to put in the month and then below the month if you spell out the day of the week. Use the numeric number for the month date and year. If you highlight that box and drag it down, it will automatically populate all the days of the month. Once you do that, go ahead and save the document for the purpose of this. You can just say your name and you can say academic planner or you can say your name with planning goals. So that’s step 1.
Have all of your assignments due dates, tests, projects ready. You can find these in your syllabus or instructor’s website. Once you have those due dates. Go ahead and backfill them in. Start with the end in mind. Put in the due dates on the particular date that it’s due and then go ahead and put in homework assignments and anything else.
Now you have all of the assignments in and the big tests. What I’d like you to do now is to go through those important test dates, presentations, project deadlines and use the paint bucket tool at the top of the Google spreadsheet. You can click on it and choose the color palette. I like to use red just as a reminder since it stands out that it is an important due date. Go ahead and use that tool and highlight the cell that that particular date is due and color code it red.
What I’d like to do here is start with the end in mind and backtrack to chunk down the steps. It’s going to help you to be ready for that test presentation or project and make sure you’re giving yourself ample time. I like to tell students if you think that you’re over planning and giving yourself too much time, it’s not really true. Because what you’re doing is building in a what-if plan. You know life happens and you might not be feeling well or you might not be motivated on a particular day. If you have enough planning blocks set for that specific test or important project, then you have a little buffer built-in. So, it’s a good idea to just over plan and break down these steps into kind of micro, small chunks of blocks
You should have everything entered. What I like to do now is to go through and just bold out the subjects across the top. Make sure the dates are bold and then I put in anything red in bold too. It is really visually standing out for an important thing for you know you need to do. This is where the students really visually like this calendar. As you are completing an assignment, your accountability is to yourself by color, coding it using the paint bucket. Highlight the cell light blue as you complete things. The goal is to have as much blue on that page as you can possibly get.
Sometimes students like to even put their test scores on there too so they can go back and look at it in a different month and see that progress. Another thing you can do is to use the strikethrough key for missed work. Maybe you missed an assignment you were going to do but want to track it, so you’re going to use the strikethrough tool at the top. It’ll serve the purpose of letting you know that it was something that didn’t happen. It may be something you forgot to do and other times, it might be professors moving things around or occasionally they just abandoned things.
So, now you have the color-coding blue for completion or the strike-through if it’s a special circumstance and just didn’t happen and red for important things. Sometimes things are not always done, but they’re in progress. So on that we’re going to use the yellow bucket tool and highlight those so that you know you paid attention to it you’re on track. Still, you’re not quite done with it yet and you need to go through using this color-coding system will really help you know at a glance where you are what you need to get done and what your next step is supposed to be.
Now you’ve completed one month’s worth of work. Add a new month at the bottom of the spreadsheet by hitting the plus button rename it for the particular month you want to copy and paste your subjects at the top. Use the date populated that I discussed on the first step and start all over again!
Can Your ADHD hyper-focus help in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic?
We really need all the creatives and out of the box thinkers right now.
As I went to the grocery store yesterday, I noticed that the shelves were getting empty very quickly. Panic began to set in that I needed to join the masses and make sure I had enough canned soups and toilet paper. My thoughts were, how are we going to regulate the use of this toilet paper within the household and make sure that we can make it last?!
I started getting into panic thinking and reading a lot of the social media out there and the news. It made it hard focusing on my work. When we have a crisis in our life, it can consume us. I felt that it was bringing me down and feeling a little lethargic as I moved through the day.
My own life was becoming to fall down around me as I was looking forward to my son’s baseball game this weekend. It would have been nice to get out of the house to be in an environment I thought would have been relatively safe from the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Our local schools canceled all the baseball games following suit with the national sports. At that point, I really felt the gravity of our situation.
It started to give me anxiety.
I was feeling a little down and not motivated to do what I usually do: creating a lot of blogs, instagram posts and podcasts. Should we halt everything and put everything on hold? I certainly felt frozen and confused.
I woke up this morning and thought, “No!” What we need is the very people that I speak to, the very people that I work with. We need all our creativity and need everybody to help. Because we are really a one-world economy now.
We need to think outside of the box outside of our homes, outside of our towns and the country. There is a responsibility to the world to get through this.
I came across this quote from a professor from a university, Leonard Sweep, and it really struck me.
“The future is not something we enter. It is something we create.”
What can we do to create a future when we’re just reacting, and we’re closing things down?
I feel like we are kind of like a mouse in one of those cages where you’re you’re going down a ramp, and somebody puts a block down that stops you. You turn around and you find another block placed.
As Americans, we cherish our freedom. We cherish our ability to move around freely to do what we want to do. This is what we pride ourselves in. We are being shut down and being confined to our homes.
Driving around my community, I feel anxious. Even going to the grocery store to buy essentials is stressful. Disinfecting my hands and cart and feeling awkward with my fears, I enter the battleground at the grocery store. I leave feeling embarrassed that I’m walking out with a 24 pack of toilet paper, but grateful I snagged one. But obviously, that’s the smart thing to do. I just want to be home, but yet I’m restless. These are strange conflicted times.
I’ve got that restless entrepreneurial spirit and this makes it hard. I like to get out and exercise and am still going to the gym, but I’m reading in the news that people are getting sick in the gyms, so they’re starting to shut them down.
I’m thinking holy cow, you know what does this mean for me? So, this inspired me to write that it’s time for us; the out of the box thinkers; the creative people to start tapping into that inner superpower and hyper-focus during this challenging time.
Now, my own hyper-focus has been on the news and the devastation. I want to understand the impact of what is going on right now.
We’re in a time that calls for us to tap into our inner creative energy to help us navigate through our current world crisis. We don’t want to shut down our thinking of solutions.
The future is not something we enter, but is something we create.
How do we handle the situation?
And respond to the duty to protect our vulnerable?
Go about our daily business while minimizing this hysteria?
This is a very tragic situation. And I have full trust that it’s going to get solved, but we’re in it for a while. Meanwhile, it is wreaking havoc on our world and how we live and work.
We are facing a lot of changes in our routines and how we work.
Could it be a possibility for a positive change?
Can this movement of social distancing and relying on our technology to stay informed and even fed in some areas be something positive and productive?
What do you do when you have all this extra time on your hands?
I’m talking about the extra time you have from canceled sporting events, travel plans, work commute. It really is going to free up some of your time. We can just sit around and read the news, watch the TV and just consume media and feel frozen in life. This is what I am guilty of this last week!
Or, we can shift it.
I often talk about taking a walk in the woods on a lunch break or before you go to work or when you get home to decompress. Since this is a time when you need to distance yourself, Social distancing, you could use it for your personal benefit.
Can you go for a walk around your neighborhood?
Go to a park and go for that walk slowly through the woods?
Use this quieter time to practice being mindful?
Put that energy into something that is going to help you through this or something in the near future?
Or, is there something you’ve been wanting to reflect on and realign your life?
Maybe it’s a career or academic goal. Or, it’s perhaps an interpersonal goal. But this could be an opportunity to really reflect within. Start to tap into some of that creative energy.
You could have a solution for something in your community that is a real problem. It could be a health care issue that you have this great idea for that you can use this time to contemplate. Many inventions come out of problem-solving a current issue. Well, we currently have a lot of problems to solve in a global world. What does our world need right now?
And this change in your day-to-day life can just be what sparks something positive or we can choose to wallow in our grief, anxiety and fears.
If you are healthy and taking the mandatory precautions, heed this advice!
Be proactive in your extra time while social distancing and tap into your creative spirit. You might just change your life for the better or someone else’s!
Let your creative ADHD brain process our current world dilemma and get proactive.
If you have something to share, please comment.
How can we CREATIVELY steer our lives NOW in the most sensible direction for when COVID-19 does pass?
Yes and No. Not all ADHD medications are stimulants, but the vast majority of prescriptions are for stimulants.
So, let’s dig in a bit to understand them.
For most people dealing with ADHD, stimulant medications are effective and safe. Just the way reading glasses help our weak eyes focus better, stimulant medications help people dealing with ADHD focus their thoughts better. They help them in becoming more aware of their surroundings; they make them gain more control and pay attention to things around them. They are prescribed more often than non-stimulant medications
According to experts, stimulants are best when combined with another form of therapy such as behavioral therapy or coaching. According to researchers and studies conducted, around 80% of the children dealing with ADHD show great improvement when they are given stimulants in the correct dosage. I would predict that adults are similar, but there needs to be more research in this area.
In general, there are two types of stimulants that are used – the short-acting stimulants that are used as an immediate acting medication, and then there is extended-release that is used for long-acting. The first category of medication is usually taken when needed, like for an important event you might be planning when you really need to focus and be on point. Extended medications are taken once a day, usually in the mornings. Some common ones used are Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Clients that I have worked with say that, when they REMEMBER to take their meds, they can help manage the typical ADHD symptoms, such as impulsive behavior and short attention span allowing them to have a very productive day.
You may be wondering how they work. These medications boost the level of neurotransmitter brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which play a crucial part in one’s ability to be attentive and process information.
In simple words, they help the nerves found in our brain communicate with other nerves. As a result, you are able to focus better.
Just as eyeglass prescriptions are customized to a person’s unique vision problems, medication can be seen as the same. You want to get the correct type and dosage that is best suited for your conditions. Have you ever tried on someone else’s eyeglass prescription and it distorted everything in your view the wrong way? Well, think of having the wrong dosage of medication as a correlation. This is why it is always best to consult with a physician. You need to consider your own circumstances and health needs.
I must caution users to never try a medication from a friend or family member
Over the years, I have heard stories of parents that have used their kid’s prescription to see if it worked for them. This is not safe. Especially, for people with these complexities below, this group is cautioned to not take stimulants and a consult should be the first step.
–Severe anxiety, nervousness, tension or stress
Tourette syndrome, or if it is there in family history
Taking medication known as monoamine oxidase
Psychotic or have a history of psychosis
When you meet with your physician they will discuss some options for you and the side effects that are possible with stimulants such as higher blood pressure, headaches, weight loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal and abnormalities in stomach. These generally go away after a few days, but if they don’t one must consult the doctor. Getting the medication right is an important piece of managing your ADHD. Do not ignore your symptoms and make sure to take note of how you are reacting to the medication plan.
Contrary to belief, sleep-related problems generally do not exist with a long-acting stimulant. I have heard of people who say that when they take their medications consistently it can actually help them have fewer thoughts as they go to bed and help them sleep better. I saw a comment once that said, “If I could actually count the sheep, I could get to sleep!” I think they were referring to the distracting thoughts that were happening while they were trying to focus on counting the sheep!
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while taking these stimulants –
The medication must always be taken as prescribed. If there are any doubts or questions, one must call the doctor
One should try to stick to a schedule to ensure the medicine is given at the same time every day
If any dose is missed, the next dose should be given at the defined time
Record how your body is reacting to the meds over time and share it with your doctor
I was listening to a podcast recently on the usage of stimulants for treating ADHD and someone had raised a question if these stimulants get someone high or if they are addictive. To this question, the experts replied that when these drugs are taken as directed by the doctors, they do not get people high. They help make people with ADHD feel “normal” where they could hold their thoughts and carry on conversations without being distracted or impulsively blurting out their every thought. Essentially, it helped people with ADHD be more successful in their lives. They went on to state that stimulants used for ADHD have no pieces of evidence that consuming them is habit-forming and nor leads to drug abuse. The reaction in a person with ADHD using a stimulant is the opposite effect of someone without ADHD using the prescription. There is a much higher risk of them ending up in the hands of someone who does not need the medication nor has ADHD and them abusing it. This leads to another focus of safe storage and educating people to never share their medication as I mentioned earlier.
When used appropriately, stimulant medication has changed lives for the better.
So now that you have a little information about stimulants, you can start to look at the types of stimulants that are available to you. There is a lot to learn about medications with more options coming into the market. It can be overwhelming. The best practice is to find a doctor who specializes in ADHD treatment plans and have a consult with them to determine what is the best plan for your unique situation. Be sure to ask what your options are for managing your ADHD given your health history and lifestyle. It makes a difference to the physician prescribing the medication to know which is best for you.
Just as you need to be informed about how the doctor may be able to help you, the doctor needs information about you to best help you.
Michelle Raz specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.