Getting Protein Into Picky Eaters

Adequate protein is an important component of an ADHD diet. I wrote yesterday about why it is essential to avoid the symptoms of ADHD that are worsened by a high carbohydrate diet and that getting children to eat an adequate amount of protein is sometimes and uphill battle.

There are several strategies that I have used at my house that have helped me get my kids to find eating protein fun and satisfying.  I thought it might be helpful to share some of these ideas with you.

My kids love foods that are fun to eat.  I often roll up sliced turkey or ham and tell them that they are cigarettes to smoke and eat.  They think it is very funny to pretend to ‘smoke’ the cigarettes.

They also love toothpicks.  I frequently cut up pieces of chicken, cheese, or meatballs and put toothpicks in them.  I serve them with barbecue sauce and jam, which the kids use as dips.

One of their favorite meals is French toast squares.  I make this using high fiber, whole grain, bread dipped in whole eggs not diluted with milk.  I cut these up into what my kids call ‘dipping squares’ and serve them with real maple syrup.

My kids are not allergic to nuts so I use peanut butter in all sorts of creative ways. “Ants on a Log” which are celery sticks filled with peanut butter and studded with raisins are a huge hit at my house as are apple slices served with a side of peanut butter.

Whole grains are a great source of Phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that can convert in the body to tyrosine.  I make my kids sandwiches using only whole grain bread and make tortilla rollups with a whole grain tortilla and fillings such as cream cheese and jam, or peanut butter and jelly.  We also eat whole grain quesadillas or whole grain pizzas at least once a week at my house. 

My kids find eating chicken drumsticks a caveman like experience and they love barbecue ribs because eating them provides the same 'eat with your hands' satisfaction.

Other popular, kid friendly, high protein snacks at my house include yogurt, nuts, beef jerky, Power bars, and smoothies.  I make the smoothies with bananas that are also a great source of tyrosine.  Remember, tyrosine is the amino acid that neurons use to make important ADHD neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine.

A healthily, balanced diet, rich in unprocessed foods, and low in refined sugars will make a world of difference in managing the symptoms of ADHD.  Even picky eaters will eat foods that are high in protein as long as they are tasty and fun to eat.  I hope that if your children will not eat protein that you will try to serve them some of the foods discussed above.  It has turned my picky eaters into happy and willing, protein consumers.

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