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?
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.
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.
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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!”.
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5 Motivation Tips For Your Teen At Home
Motivating your teenager at home is hard even on a good day. But As we are in the middle of our stay at home orders, it is getting even harder. In this episode, Michelle shares 5 motivational tips that can get your teen moving in the right direction with good spirits.
Michelle is a mother of 3 and has a lot of experience motivating her own kids and hundreds of other teenagers through her work with academic and career coaching over the years.
She will share here wisdom and insight with these helpful 5 motivations tips for your teen at home during this crisis.
In the previous episode she focused on helping you navigate the online classes and assignments with her specialized 6 Step Online Planner. You can view it HERE
Coach Raz has been an academic coach for over 10 years and you can find more details at razcoaching.com or coachingacademics.com
How to Create My Online Planner in 6 Steps
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!
Best of luck out there.
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.