The link between food, ADHD and Tourette’s

When my son was diagnosed with mild Tourette’s five years ago, one of the first things I did was concentrate on reducing tics. I didn’t want to travel down Medication Highway right away, so I set my sites on some more natural alternatives. The first thing I concentrated on was food.

It made sense to me, after a lot of reading, that what goes into the body comes out of the body. With the encouragment of ACN and a great book by Sheila Rogers, I began eliminating anything artificial from Stink’s diet. Out with the food dye and preservatives.

I took him to a holistic doctor and had him tested for food allergies. Out with the dairy and the gluten! With a new diet in place, this meant in with the fruit, veggies and healthy proteins.

While Stink’s tics were not eliminated 100 percent, they did subside quite a bit. Other issues began popping up, though, most significantly his inattention. It wasn’t until recently that I began wondering if the “healthy” fruits and veggies I was serving was actually contributing to his ADD.

According to many studies out, which you can find here, proof is beginning to emerge that the pesticides used to preserve fruit and vegetables is actually changing our childrens’ brain chemistry, contributing significantly to ADHD, ADD and other childhood disorders.

Armed with this new information, I’m reconsidering the food we eat once again. While shopping organic can be expensive, there’s other ways to save and still eat well. Perhaps we’ll eat less meat and consume more beans. I can go without my Starbuck’s coffee one day/week. I can cook from scratch more and really concentrate on sales.

Bottom line: I’m willing to take a closer look at just how much I can support Stink’s growing body through the best food out there. It can only help my younger daughter also who is neurotypical. As for me, I can use all the energy I can get. I hope to go back to work, soon and if I’m going to be sitting in a cube, I don’t need to be twitching from my strawberries.

What are your thoughts on the links between food and ADHD/TS?


  1. As someone with TS, and having talked to others with it, different foods affect kids differently. My friends with just ADD or ADHD do not see a parallel between their disorder and the foods they eat. Anyway, growing up, my parents noticed that any foods with a high content in caffeine, sugar, or anything electrolytes (like Gatorade) made my tics worse. Of course, you do want to look out for preservatives in food and such, as well as pesticides, but my experience as someone with TS is that the more “stimulant” a food or drink is, the more my tics increased. That is just me, others with TS will experience something different most likely. I hope this helps a bit.

  2. Our experience has been that allergies or food sensitivities are a much bigger problem. O was one of those kids who got organic baby food, homemade whole-wheat bread, fruit-only jam, nothing-but-peanuts peanut butter, etc. When he was three or four years old, he went to a birthday party, ate two or three hot dogs (!) and some “confetti” birthday cake — and was the calmest he ever had been. It was amazing. We did not stock up on hot dogs, though. :-)

    On the other hand, when I took O out of preschool at age five due to abusive teachers and his utter implosion, he basically was existing on four or five of those all-natural PB&J sandwiches per day. He would not eat anything else. I changed up his diet, replaced peanut butter with almond butter, and saw a big change in his behavior. My own stomach hurt a lot less when we got rid of the peanut butter, too.

  3. The effects of food on our little ticcers is fascinating to me. Long before I began researching this, we noticed that any kind of processed meats, hot dogs in particular, drove our little guy over the edge. His tics were so much worse, and his impulsivity was off the charts. We also noticed that his symptoms seem to subside with veggies and particularly after eating cashews. Hmm. So we presented our “thesis” to our Pediatrician, our Neurologist, and our TS support group. “Coincidence” was what we were told, along with, “There’s no proof.” My child’s immediate change in behavoir was proof enough for me.

    Two years after his TS diagnosis (which came at age four), I attended a conference for work, by Dr. John Taylor. During the lecture, he spoke about how toxins in our daily lives have a direct impact on neurologically involved kids, particularly ADHD/TS. Among his theories were that nitrates/nitrites (processed meats) and sulfates/sulfites (many packaged foods) worsen symptoms, while manesium (nuts & leafy greens) helped the neurotransmitters to work more effectively, therefore decreasing symptoms. He recommended a book by Dr. Laura Thompson entitled, “Our Children Are…What Our Children Eat.” His website is: http://www.add-plus.com

    We find ways to help him make better food choices, and just bring nitrate-free hot dogs to barbeques. It’s really helped the entire famil.

    • Hi Vicki, thanks for your comment. We would love to have you come on as a contributor. Seems like you would have a lot to offer! If you are interested, please e-mail us at parents@njcts.org. We could start by taking what you’ve written here and expounding upon it for an introductory entry. Let us know!

    • I am new to this and just want to find out how to help my almost 4 year old son’s elimination of a new tic he was just diagnosed with. It is to early they said to know if it will continue, but I will do my best to help them from happening if I can.

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