15 Trigger Foods to Avoid if Your Child has Trouble Sitting Still

Having an active child is challenging in itself—but having a hyperactive child is another ball game entirely. But did you know that your child’s diet could have an impact on their attention issues? Here are some of the biggest culprits that might be in your child’s diet that you should try to avoid.

  1. Soda and drinks with caffeine. Another thing that we’d all be better without is soda, and other drinks with high levels of caffeine, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup. All of these ingredients have been known to cause symptoms like hyperactivity and distractibility.
  2. Sugar. Sugar seems to be in everything nowadays. Anything with a high amount of sugar in it (including candy and soda) is going to have an impact on a hyperactive child. Cutting back on sugar will likely help them focus better.
  3. Artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better than sugar, and can have just as big an impact on your child’s ability to focus and sit still. Similarly, artificial colors and flavors can aggravate the symptoms of hyperactivity in children.
  4. Energy drinks. Sometimes you might need a boost to get you through a tough day, but kids should avoid energy drinks completely, especially those who struggle sitting still. Energy drinks are full of some of the worst ingredients for hyperactive kids: sugar, artificial sweeteners and colors, caffeine, and so on.
  5. Swordfish. It might not be the most common staple in a kid’s diet, but be wary of fish that are high in mercury. The mercury could make hyperactivity and other issues worse.
  6. Frozen foods. A lot of frozen foods are packed with artificial colors and sweeteners, including some frozen fruits and vegetables. Double check the labels on your frozen foods for artificial ingredients and avoid those that contain them.
  7. Potato chips. We might sound like a broken record at this point, but potato chips are loaded with artificial colors and flavoring. Plus they aren’t that healthy to begin with. Try alternatives, like organic kale chips or beet chips. You might be surprised how good they taste!
  8. Fruit juice. Kids love juice boxes and juice pouches, so this might be a tough one to eliminate. But there are some fruit juices out there that contain as much sugar as soda, and can be filled with artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colors. Try to stick to water as much as you can.
  9. Fast food. Between the fried nature of most fast food options, the high sugar volumes, and all the other reasons why we’re constantly warned off fast food, there are many reasons why they can cause hyperactivity in kids, or exacerbate the symptoms. It might be hard to avoid the lure of the drive-thru, but you’ll be glad you did.
  10. Red meat. This one is a matter of moderation. Having a lot of red meat in your diet isn’t good for anyone, but it doesn’t mean you should eliminate it completely. If your child has a lot of red meat in their diet and they have trouble sitting still, try cutting back on the red meat and see if it has a positive impact.

Food allergies or sensitivities to certain foods can also impact attention issues in children, so keep a close eye out for those too.

Because every child is different, yours might not be as affected by some of these foods as others. It might be a matter of trial and error to find which foods are making your child’s symptoms worse. Keep working on it until you find something that works for you and your child. And if your child still needs help focusing, may be able to help.

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