As a human who is eating with ADHD, you likely experience some *unique* patterns and habits around food and eating. Even when you do your very best to nourish yourself, you might often find yourself in a pretty sticky ADHD eating spiral.
Medicated for ADHD or not, it’s hard to snap out of hyper-focus, hard to hear and understand your special and subtle hunger cues, hard to face the steps on steps on steps it takes to get food from the kitchen to your mouth, and with an undernourished mind and body, your animal instincts can quickly become a barbaric sensation of NEED FOOD, ME HUNGRY… NOW! And thanks to diet culture, there is a steady stream of guilt, shame, and self-judgment that follows all of this.
That my friends, is what the Wise Heart team likes to call the ADHD Eating Spiral.
And for those of you that are of the unmedicated ADHD variety, this spiral has a similar loop but a different flavor to it. If you are not using meds for ADHD, you may *also* find yourself getting into a hyper-focus flow where eating becomes a far away concept, oblivious to your hunger cues thanks to the ADHD lack of interoceptive awareness, ending up with under-fueled organs and a deep sense of fatigue, and finally, that extreme ravenous hunger that can only be tamed by eating anything and everything in sight in order to feed your brain and body ASAP!
Ever been here? Find yourself here regularly? Think you’re alone? Not so! There are maaaany other ADHDers out there like you that struggle with this frustrating spiral which can feel impossible to break.
We know firsthand how those feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness can come up in the grand spiral finale, and over time, seep into each crevasse of this slippery slope. You, like many ADHDers, might be conditioned to believe that something is wrong with you, that you are somehow doing everything wrong and/or failing at everything you do. You are more likely to have perfectionistic tendencies and sky high expectations of yourself in this not-so-neurodivergent structured world.
Let’s take a moment to practice some self-compassion here with a quick reality check. As a human with ADHD, you do, in fact, process the world differently, you do have difficulties around executive functioning, and as a result, you likely have a harder time with body awareness (but not a problem staying stuck in your active brain) and hearing your body cues. Your unique tendencies can feel like fitting a square block into a circular hole. Bigger picture message: you are already navigating some tough obstacles, simply by having an ADHD brain in a world that isn’t built for you.
Then add in the blame and shame that you hold tightly to, every time you fall into this spiral… whew! That’s a heavy and painful weight to be carrying.
So with this hearty dose of self-compassion, and a tool-belt armed with your growing skills of self-awareness and (moving towards) acceptance of where you are at, here are some additional ADHD friendly tips/tools to help you break out of the ADHD eating spiral and move towards more freedom, flexibility, and peace with food!
At Wise Heart Nutrition, we believe that eating consistently is a practice of the utmost importance when it comes to Eating with ADHD. Exhibit A: the visualization (and reality for many of us ADHDers) portrayed above.
We’ve seen time and time again that many symptoms of ADHD actually have quite a connection to our not so obvious hunger cues. This means that instead of a growling stomach, hunger can actually look like low energy, low concentration, inattention, decision fatigue, shakiness, irritability and frustration, etc.
When we prioritize creating opportunities to eat consistently throughout the day, we can see a variety of benefits in our wellbeing ranging from...
😌 more mood stability
🤓 increased executive functioning/focus
🤪 higher energy levels
🥴 improved digestive function & metabolism
🥳 prevents or breaks the restrict/binge cycle
🤩 blood sugar stability
😋 more reliable hunger and fullness cues
🧐 less brain fog
So how do you begin the “eating consistently prioritization" process?
Creating useful structures and systems that work for your neurodivergent brain and lifestyle is key to finding a sweet spot in eating consistently throughout the day.
Playing around with different tools and resources that take the executive function/decision making out of our daily headspace reduces the analysis paralysis/decision-making fatigue that can grumble even louder when you are undernourished!
So how do you begin to create these flexible-structures that work for you and your brain? We recommend that you start by testing out some classic re-mind-er resources that support getting food into your body and nourishment into your hungry and active brain!
This could look like…
Creating a handful of *gentle reminder* phone alarms every 3-5 hours to get a little snacky in your system
Setting aside a daily slot on your calendar just for eating and turning on calendar notifications for that extra re-mind-er nudge
If technology isn’t your bag, visual reminders in the form of post-it-notes, whiteboard-wisdom-words, or other visual aids around the home can be a cute way to say something like:
“Hey Busy Bee! Let’s get some food in me!”
You can also experiment with making food more visually accessible by placing a snack nearby where you are working, hanging out, or where you will be walking by it at some point throughout the day
(i.e. on the kitchen counter instead of in the cabinet).
Take some time this week to play around with some “do-the-thinking-for-you” resources to get no-brainer support in remembering to eat throughout the day!
All fun and games aside, this spiral can be really frustrating to circle through day after day, month after month, and sometimes year after year. It can feel discouraging to try something new, have it work for a period of time, and then lose its fuel with little to no notice to you. Sustainability is inherently hard for ADHDers.
I like to think that any step, no matter how small it may seem, is an act of genuine care that we’re giving to ourselves and our well-being. Each step is PROGRESS (not perfection) towards the goal of feeling better and more balanced in our body and mind. And for that, I like to give myself a progress-pat-on-the-back!
On those days where it really isn’t easy to acknowledge progress– when you find yourself in the dance of 2 steps forward, 1 step back with ADHD Eating Spiral– we hope you can practice compassion and understanding for your unique circumstances, and know that you are FAR from alone.
More support from your Wise Heart Nutrition team and Eating with ADHD® out there! Looking for resources, community, and accountability? You can join our Neurished Monthly Membership and get access to workshop replays, live workshops, coaching calls, challenges, and community chat circles that will support you in navigating your Eating with ADHD® obstacles. We’ve got you!
We know first-hand how frustrating it can be to feel stumbling, scrambling, and sliding through the ADHD Eating spiral day after day.
The unintentional hyper-focus that leads to food restriction, which spirals into the seemingly unstoppable ravenous binge cycle, is one that can elicit a lot of feelings of guilt, shame, and helplessness. And this directly impacts your relationship with food and eating.
At Wise Heart Nutrition, we believe that with a few flexible-structure incorporations such as setting alarms, setting aside eating times in your calendar, and/or having visual reminders around your environment (including food being more visible), are useful neurodivergent friendly tools that can help you begin to create new and sustainable patterns for Eating with ADHD®.
Know that if you are struggling with this eating spiral, you are not sliding down it alone in any way. There are many folx out there, who are looking for more neurodivergent-affirming, compassionate approaches, tools, and support when it comes to food and eating.
It’s possible to change these patterns! The Wise Heart Nutrition team and the Neurished Community are here to help you find more balance and peace in your Eating with ADHD® journey! Find out what we have cooking and coming up at right here!.
Needing a more seamless way to get food from kitchen to mouth? Use discount code THEADHDRD to save $65 on your first box with Daily Harvest!
Favorite meals from our Wise Heart dieticians include:
⭐️Fave Hot Meal: Brussels Sprouts and Fonio Harvest Bowl
⭐️Fave No-Prep Snack: Banana and Cacao Bites
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