ADHD isn’t so much a deficit of attention but rather an issue of self-regulation – the ability to vigorously engage the executive functioning brain to override the automatic brain.
This ability to pause, ponder, and choose a different path to proceed is what helps us reach our goals.
When it comes to weight management, the rubber meets the road at the point of performance/impact, i.e., the dinner table. Your success at weight management hinges upon self–regulation. Can you pause, identify your triggers, and then design an environment that can help you regulate your urge to eat more than necessary?
Over the years as an interviewer of the top ADHD experts, Ive learned that people with ADHD are not naturally inclined to eat mindfully. Without conscience attending to their meals, they tend to eat to calm themselves down, to psychologically escape a painful situation, to combat boredom, and to just “fit it in” while doing other things.
5 attention exercises to self regulate:
1. Focus on your brain and keep it engaged – if you are bored its hard not to run toward food. Dr. John Baily once said in an interview, “ADHD is code for running from boredom.”
2. Take a deep breath before each normal breath – during this deep breath, pause and be mindful of your situation.
3. Take a picture of everything you eat each day – before you are tempted to eat again, review all the pictures from that day. This is a great work around for people with ADHD as it is difficult to write down everything in a daily journal.
4. Chew gum – this can often act as an oral fidget and helps many who are kennestic (constantly moving).
5. Put down your eating utensil after every bite – listen to your stomach to acknowledge if it really wants more food. Are you eating to be full or satisfied? Have you pondered the difference? Many with ADHD focus on being full. What if you focused on just being satisfied?
As with any exercise, practice makes perfect, so be patient and kind with yourself.
TRUE OR FALSE?: If you have hyperactivity type ADHD, risk factors for obesity would go down. FALSE. Research suggests that is not true.
Want to learn more?
Tune into my interview with Dr. Roberto Olivardia. One interesting insight: to manage his urge to eat, Dr. Olivardia asks to have half his restaurant meal put in a to-go bag. Listen to find out if he is actually satisfied eating half the regular portion.
Learn more about Adult ADHD individual and group coaching at DIG Coaching.