Artificial Sweeteners and ADHD

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Yesterday I did something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I gave up artificial sweeteners and went back to sugar.

Sugar Cane

You know that I’m big on eating real food, not processed, and I’m all for natural cures like herbs and essential oils if possible. (I’m not an extremist, though. Over the counter and prescriptions drugs have their place too.)

Artificial sweeteners kind of go against everything that I believe in.

I switched to them a few years ago as part of my effort to lose weight. Since then I’ve lost about 20 lbs, but I can’t credit those little blue packets for that. I exercise now, and run 5K races, I eat healthier.

I drink 3 glasses of tea per day on average. That equals 6 teaspoons of sugar at 16 calories each for a grand total of 96 calories for the day. A half hour cleaning or making dinner will burn that and I don’t have to worry about side effects.

I know that some people think that sugar makes hyperactivity in ADHD worse and others who feel that artificial sweeteners do the same. You will find varying opinions on that, but here’s what the National Institute of Mental Health says about sugar:

The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave children foods containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The children who received sugar showed no different behavior or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute.

In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the children got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their children were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their children had gotten sugar rated them as more hyperactive than the other children and were more critical of their behavior, compared to mothers who thought their children received aspartame.

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My bottom line on sugar, artificial sweeteners and ADHD is this: sugar is healthier because it’s real, not a chemical. You know yourself and your child better than anyone; if you feel that any sweetener is making hyperactivity worse, then take it out of the diet or use it sparingly.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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