ADHD and Disordered Eating: What Gets in the Way and How to Cope

by | ADHD Coaching

ADHD and disordered eating can be a complex and often overwhelming dynamic to grapple with. You don’t have to navigate this alone. Seeking support from a counselor familiar with ADHD might help you develop a better understanding of the triggers and strategies that will help. Let’s look at some examples of possible stumbling blocks below:

Interplay of Impulsivity and Binge Eating

When impulsivity is directed towards eating behaviors, it can lead to binge eating episodes. Recognizing triggers for these binges and practicing mindfulness can help manage impulsive behaviors.

Emotional Dysregulation and Comfort Eating

Emotional dysregulation sometimes causes us to seek solace in food to manage our icky feelings. Sugary foods in particular can give us a quick but unsustainable dopamine fix. Learn to be aware of and track ( Knowledge is power!) what is triggering you to reach for the Oreos and the french fries.

Food Narratives and Restrictions

Our inner narratives around food and the pressure to conform to certain societal expectations can be obstacles to helping ourselves make healthy choices. Restrictive diets in particular can exacerbate impulsivity and lead to obsessive behaviors. Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself or that you are being told about food or how your body “ should” look. You may come to understand that there are old stories that you need to unlearn and dump in the trash.

Executive Function Challenges and Meal Planning

Meal Planning is an excellent way of making sure we are fueling our bodies with nutritious and delicious food. This requires Executive Function skills that could be daunting for someone with ADHD. Here’s where strategies like body doubling, implementing visual aids (ex.checklists), setting reminders, and breaking down tasks into smaller steps can make meal planning more manageable and reduce stress.

Healthy Coping Strategies:

  1. Mindful Eating Practicing mindfulness while eating can help develop a healthier relationship with food. Get your Zen on and focus on the flavors, textures, and sensations of each bite, allowing you to be present during meals.
  2. Have Regular, Balanced Meals Establishing a routine for regular meals and snacks can help stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of impulsive overeating. Meal Planning before going to the grocery and prepping for the week will take stress off finding healthy food during your lunch break.
  3. Physical Activity Engaging in regular physical activity can help manage ADHD symptoms and regulate mood, reducing the need to rely on food for emotional comfort. You don’t need a gym membership for this. Go for walks, become a plant mama or papa and work in the garden, dance….
  4. Get Support Connect with friends, family, and/ or professional guidance. Sharing your challenges and successes can provide encouragement and perspective.
  5. Positive Self-Talk Develop a habit of positive self-talk to counteract the negative gremlins in your head. Remember, progress takes time, so be patient and kind to yourself throughout this journey.
<span class="before-author">AUTHOR</span><br>Mimi Syjuco

Mimi Syjuco

ADHD Coach • Counsellor • Life Coach As a trauma-informed, neurodiversity-affirming counselor and life coach, my goal is to walk with you on the path of healing, positive change, empowerment and well-being.


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