Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

Why do ADHD Brains Crave Sugar?

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?

Good luck!

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.

 

 

 

 

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here: Dr. Lisa

This is the final part of a 4-part story of one very brave and dedicated TBI survivor. While this story concludes here, I can assure you Lisa is not done.  She has more ambition than I have ever seen in a person. She is your comeback kid in spite of so many obstacles placed in front of her over the years.  These stories only scratch at the surface as to the challenges she has faced and endured throughout her life.

She still struggles with executive functions but has a wealth of knowledge and resources to help her navigate them to be successful. She is now Dr. Lisa who can help others with a wide range of mental health issues that are keeping them stuck from living to their fullest potential.  She works with others now using her wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to have profound effects on many lives.

Overcoming, One Day at a Time

I went back to school with the focus of studying how mental health can impact the quality of life for mild to moderate TBI survivors. I listened to fellow TBI survivors discuss their struggles with low self-esteem, depression, and shame as these variables were reported to be the most common among the survivors. Negative encounters with people have turned me into an introvert, my desire to understand what other survivors and I experience has turned me into a researcher.

When I walked on-stage for my doctoral hooding ceremony, as a graduate with high distinction, I thought about all the obstacles, steps, motivation, and my desire to serve other people. School enabled me to mature in ways I could not believe. School was my rehabilitation process. The car accident changed my life no doubt, but school provided me with opportunities to learn.

When people said, “I can’t help you”, school taught me how to look for other resources to try to help myself.

Do not misunderstand, we all need someone, and at times, we need a professional to talk to. I need to give credit to my vocational-rehabilitation counselor because she has put up with a lot from me over the years.  She met me when I slurred my words, could not form sentences easily, and I forgot so many things (even the counselor’s name at times), but the counselor also nudged me even when I wanted to be left alone.

Over the years, she has put me in touch with some great resources such as Michelle who have helped me learn in a face-to-face manner how to deal with things which I struggled and still struggle with. I do not mind sharing that Michelle has been of great help to me when I have needed to process overstimulation and processing issues.

Having someone who understands my challenges and who wants to help instead of belittling, is such a blessing.  One thing among many, which I have learned is, my mind can tell me there is no one who seems to be willing and able to help me, that is just in my head.

Wonderful professionals aside, there must be a willingness, determination, and a desire to change. Some of the greatest help to change comes from within, and through faith in a power greater than myself.  For me, that is God, through the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

I chose to share my story because so many people are stigmatized by circumstances beyond their control and in the end, each of us has a choice on how we deal with the cards life has dealt us.

In my case, when I hit an obstacle, it knocked me down and I had to muster the motivation to get back up and try again. Sometimes, it is people who have endured hardship in life who work the hardest to make meaningful changes in their lives. Did I prove the doubters wrong? I have no idea, and frankly, it does not matter because the biggest doubter was myself. If you would have asked me eleven years ago if I would be where I am today, I would have laughed until my ribs hurt.

Someone was watching out for me, carrying me when there was only one set of footprints, and believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

My life is not a bed of roses and I do struggle, but through all the trials, obstacles, and joys, yes joys, there has been one constant in my life and that is faith. Without faith, I would have died at my kitchen table ten years ago. Without faith, I would not have had the courage to move forward when I kept hitting negativity by others and roadblocks within my own denial. Though there have been many challenges in my life, I count my blessings and realize I would not be where I am today without the love of God and His faith in me, when I had no faith in myself.

Life is still a struggle and though I have initials after my name, I am still disrespected by those who cannot see past the blinders in front of their eyes and only choose to see me as “different”, “awkward”, or “odd”. The shunning, rejection, being passed-over for jobs I am more than qualified for, and the sense of not being good enough to fit in society, some would say it is all in my head, but when the same thing keeps happening and only the location has changed, it gives one pause. The other day, I was talking with a member of law enforcement, having a casual conversation and when he found out I have a doctorate degree, I thought he was going to fall flat to the ground. The look of shock on his face was somewhat funny, but at the same time, it was insulting.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about inequality with most reference to race. Discrimination and presupposition are equal opportunity social bias and injustice perpetrators. People do not ask to be born a certain way, nor do people ask to be injured and disabled.

Learning to accept the difference between who they once were and who they are now is a huge challenge in and of itself. Being discriminated against because someone is different, that’s not only social unjust, it shows a lack of self-respect for the individual(s) who cannot accept difference from their own perspective.

My name is Lisa. I have many flaws and many talents. I am, different. I am, a TBI survivor. I am, TBI Survivor Strong.

Lisa Marie Ansell, EdD, LPC, NCC, CBIS
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Certified Brain Injury Specialist
Adjunct Professor at a Private University

If you missed the previous parts of this story you can find them here:  part 1part 2, part 3.

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration and post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.

 

Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and True Grit

Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and True Grit

A Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and The Determination To Overcome

A 4-part story of adversity, courage, hope and success for one TBI survivor

 

Lisa, with a damaged spirit and facing many cognitive struggles, embraces her disabilities in the midst of healing with the will and determination to overcome her challenges.

This is part two of a four-part series of how one traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor overcame obstacles to improve her quality of life when appropriate resources seemed out of reach.  We learned how Lisa’s life changed after a terrible accident in Part I:  Overcome Obstacles Instead of Being Overcome by Them.   These obstacles and challenges associated with TBI survivors include many skills associated with execution functions of the brain.  These skilled functions can be thought of as the command center of the brain that controls the cognitive processes such as decision-making, impulse control, attention, emotional regulation, and working memory.

Here is part two of her story. 

Change Takes Time

Have you ever heard the term, “doing a geographical”?  Many times, geographicals do not work but in my case, it saved my life; literally. Somehow, I was able to get a good job in another county. I got good references from people in the other community, I think mostly so I would leave. If people think they fooled me, they did not but I needed to go somewhere else to pick up the pieces before my pieces were so broken, they could not be repaired. The job did not work out even though I told the employer about the head injury and how it may take longer for me to get the information into my long-term memory, but once I got the information into my long-term memory, I was good.

  • The trainer grew so impatient with me, she snapped pencils in frustration.

  • I knew my time was done then.

  • So began my employment woes.

Headaches after the accident were brutal and constant. One day, after moving to the new community, I had the worst headache, my speech was worse than it had been since the accident (four years prior), and I thought I was having a stroke.  To the Emergency Room I headed only to be diagnosed with a migraine and sent on my way. The clinic connected me with a kind patient navigator who turned out to understand my circumstances better than most, being a TBI survivor as well. This kind soul connected me with resources that assisted with getting services and referrals to people who deal with TBI.

 I felt like the thunderstorms were heading east and finally, sunny weather was in my forecast. 

The new community had their own ideas about my “strange” behavior and I again faced judgement and incorrect opinions. Employment opportunity labeled me “a liability” and spread the word through the county of my ineptness, which spread like a wildfire. There is nothing better in the world than being judged, tried, and convicted of being an indecent person by people who have no willingness to understand someone who is different, and in their opinions, insignificant. What if it had been them in the accident, how would they feel?

During my recovery, I have seen the kind side of people for the first encounter, then the (not so) subtle body language telling me to stay away from them.  Talk about a self-esteem killer! It has been my experience that people push away what they do not understand, and rebuke what is different than their interpretation of normal.  So, is their version of normal the norm for the rest of us?  Why are they so special?

Just saying. Is anyone relating to any of this?

Aside from doctors and becoming a subject within a sample population for a research study to receive free treatment for my TBI in exchange for data for the researchers, I found another form of rehabilitation. Having been dealt more rejection after the accident than I had previously experienced in life, I found acceptance, in school.

Remember the words from the Junior Associate lawyer who pretty much told me I would not amount to much in life? If you do not, I did. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I applied to a university expecting to be laughed at (behind my back of course) but instead, I got accepted.  Let me repeat the word, accepted.

Between the words of the Junior Associate lawyer and reading the word, accepted, I was motivated to prove all the doubters wrong.

School was tough. I did not retain the information within the reading assignments the first time, the second time, or even the fifth time. I had to reread the material repeatedly to comprehend enough to answer one question. I do not believe any of my professors knew how hard I had to work, they just commented on my being a good student.

While the rest of the world (it seemed) thought this “different, awkward, and strange” woman would not amount to much, I trusted God’s plan for my life, whatever that was, and each time I got a good grade, I felt accepted and more than my brain injury, I was learning how to process information, formulate sentences, and re-learn critical thinking skills.

 I began to have belief in myself again.

Someone within the community who knew I was living out of my pick-up truck or a motel when I had money, told me about a job possibility they knew I had experience with. I was upfront and honest with the potential employer regarding my injury and after going through some hoops, I was offered a job and have been with the employer for nearly eight years.

The job schedule worked with my academic studies and eventually, I was able to move into my own apartment after seven months of living in my truck or in a motel.   I still get people who judge me and think they have the right to draw erroneous conclusions as to why I am the way I am, but I really don’t care anymore as I trust my abilities and know my job.  If I cannot do my job due to having a tough day with overstimulation, I have an agreement with my boss that I will call and take the day off.

There have not been many days I have had to call off work for overstimulation reasons. But the words of people who have tarnished my reputation have created a disrespect of me within the employment that no matter how much I recover, to them, I am just the pain in the butt who shows up for work and does her job.

Gossip kills not only a reputation, but it also does damage to a spirit.

As I sign-off for this post, I am going to share with you that this “awkward” and “different” TBI survivor graduated with honors and received a bachelor’s degree five years after the accident without using accommodations.

My determination wanted to do the work without crutches; I needed to prove to myself that I could do it.

Walking across the stage to shake the hand of the university’s president with one hand and grasp my diploma holder with the other hand did so much for my self-esteem and belief of becoming more than my brain injury.

To the doubters, it almost felt like I was giving them the bird, though I knew there may be nothing I can do to prove them wrong in their own minds.  But to myself, I found a part of me that I did not know existed before the accident. Maybe there was a blessing in disguise within a terrible experience.

Until next time.
Lisa Marie Ansell, Guest Blogger

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration and post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.

 

How One ADHD College Student Deals With Challenges

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.

If you want more podcasts, blogs, videos on life with ADHD visit Michelle’s website at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. or email her at [email protected]  Also, you can  follow her at  www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. She has many mini blogs with tips of inspiration.   There’s something in one of her outlets there for you that can help you with your ADHD struggles and challenges.  She even has an App on her website to ask questions.   “Ask Raz!”.

 

Can ADHD Be Mistaken for Autism?

Can ADHD Be Mistaken for Autism?

Can ADHD be mistaken for Autism?

Are some kids dealing with Autism misdiagnosed with ADHD?

Yes, absolutely!  There are overlapping conditions between the two.  Read on to read the full comparison by  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5)

How are these two disorders similar?

Many of the symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder are confused for ADHD, such as difficulty in settling down or focusing on something, ability to pay attention, impulsivity and social awkwardness.  These are the executive functioning skills: time management, organization, self-reflection, emotional regulation, and focus.

Yes, Autism and ADHD can look a lot similar as children with either has difficulty focusing. They have issues communicating; they might struggle with their schoolwork and so on. Although the two conditions share a lot of common symptoms, the two are very different conditions. Autism is a kind of developmental disorder that can impact language skills, social interactions, behavior and learning ability. ADHD affects the way the brain develops and grows. It is also possible at times that someone on the Autism spectrum is dealing with both, which would be called a comorbid condition.

So, how can we differentiate between the two conditions?

Look at the checklists below and compare and observe the behavior. All those dealing with autism struggle to focus on things that they dislike. For instance, if they don’t like to study, they cannot focus on reading for comprehension.  When they asked to read, they might fixate on things they like, such as watching a cartoon or playing their favorite game. Students dealing with ADHD lose interest in the initial phase and they try to avoid things asked to focus on. They can look similar.  The difference will be the severity in the autistic person and the other traits listed below.

You can also look at the way the person learns to communicate.

Although in both conditions, children struggle to communicate with others, those dealing with Autism are generally highly focused in their own world. They struggle to put words to their thoughts and fail to express their feelings. They also find it difficult to make eye contact with someone. On the other hand, a child dealing with ADHD can talk non-stop and can be very social. They can be talkative and challenging to stop them once they stop.

While an autism child loves to repeated events, those dealing with ADHD like to move onto the next interest. A child coping with Autism might like the consistent routine of things, whereas those with ADHD do not like to do the same thing over and over again. They like to explore new things often.

While these are samples that help differentiate between ADHD and Autism, there are many more characteristics considered before a diagnosis could occur.

The first and most important thing to do is to visit the doctor.  Let the expert decide what your child is going through if you suspect either condition. To diagnose ADHD, doctors generally look at the behavioral pattern of the child over time, for instance – not following the instructions, being forgetful, not listening to parents, fidgeting and so on. They ask for feedback from parents and teachers and draw a conclusion based on their observation and symptoms. The feedback for Autism is much more complicated.   Look below at the full DSM5 criteria the professional use to determine if it is ADHD or Autism.

 

Here are the full Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder from the www.cdc.gov site

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):
    1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.
    2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
    3. Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understand relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.

Specify current severity:

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

  1. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):
    1. Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypes, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).
    2. Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat same food every day).
    3. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g., strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests).
    4. Hyper- or hyperreactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g. apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

Specify current severity:

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

  1. Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).
  2. Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
  3. These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level

 

DSM-5 Criteria for ADHD

People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:

 

  1. Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    2. Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    5. Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    7. Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    8. Is often easily distracted
    9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    1. Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    2. Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    3. Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    4. Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    5. Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    6. Often talks excessively.
    7. Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    8. Often has trouble waiting their turn.
    9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
The accurate diagnosis of the condition starts when you start talking to the doctor about behavior, what he/she dislikes, what they struggle with.  Apart from the symptoms and behavioral patterns, some more tools and tests are conducted to understand what the client is dealing with.

Fortunately, there are many resources available today to help distinguish the two conditions and behavioral plan options to help live the most productive and fulfilled life.

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] 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.