Feeding Your ADHD Brain … Literally

Perhaps you’re asking, why should I worry about feeding my ADHD Brain?  My reply would be, “How many times have you heard it said, ‘You are what you eat?’ “ We know that an unhealthy diet contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and diabetes. It’s ironic, however, that the subject of food rarely comes up when we talk about the mind and the brain – an area where what you eat is as powerful, if not more so, than any medication. It is such an obvious point that it usually goes overlooked.  The most common errors, like skipping breakfast or self-medicating with food, can sabotage the best of treatment plans.

In recent years, the whole field of diet and the brain has really taken off. Gradually, we have come to take nutrition seriously, viewing food as the remarkable “drug” that it is – carrying with it enormous potential to make us well … or to make us sick.

Nutrition and ADHD

When it comes to treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive and emotional conditions, diet and nutrition play an important role. If you do not eat properly, you can become distracted, impulsive, and restless, not to mention develop all sorts of other symptoms. You can look like your have ADHD, even if you do not. Therefore, the treatment of ADHD – as well as any effort to lead a healthy life- must now consider diet as an essential component of a proper regiment.

A diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, trans-fatty acids (and all those other ingredients contained in the many processed foods we Americans love to consume) is not beneficial for anyone, least of all people coping with ADHD. People with ADHD need to “feed” their brains with the right kinds of foods. So what are these “right” kinds of foods?

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

One of the most important recommendations doctors are starting to make to their patients is to supplement their daily diet with omega-3 fatty acids. Current estimates suggest that the average American eats only 125 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per day, which is only about 5% of what the average American ate a century ago. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. We also know that omega-3 fatty acids increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that ADHD medications act to increase. Therefore, although not yet proven, it is logical to speculate that omega-3 fatty acids may provide a specific nutritional treatment for ADHD.

Tips to “Feed” Your Brain:

  1. Always eat breakfast, and eat protein as part of that breakfast. Protein is the best long-lasting source of brain fuel.
  2. Eat lots of foods with vitamin C. I say eat because the Vitamin C in pills is not as good as the vitamin C you get from eating fruits and other foods that contain vitamin C.
  3. Blueberries and grape-seed extract are rich in antioxidants and may help improve memory.
  4. Super blue-green algae may be even better than blueberries for cognition and memory.
  5. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna.
  6. Also take a daily supplement of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish-oil, as well as in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and certain other plant sources.
  7. Take a daily multivitamin supplement that contains vitamin C, vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin E, selenium and others (but be careful not to overdose on the fat-soluble vitamins, which are A, D, E and K).
  8. Drink lots of water. This is good for you in many different ways. Eight glasses is a good amount.
  9. Finally, eat a balance diet, of course. The meaning of balance changes as we learn more. Avoid junk foods. Try to eat fresh foods, and avoid foods that come in boxes, bags, wrappers, packages or tubes.

NOTE: When it comes to vitamins and any kind of supplements, remember to always consult with your doctor first, who should always supervise what you’re taking.

Wellevate

WellevateWe want to make it as easy as possible for you to access high quality vitamins and supplements to help you achieve your health goals. That’s why we have opened our own online store called Wellevate. 

With our Wellevate store, you can order the highest quality vitamins and supplements available online and have them shipped right to your home – you can even purchase some of my best selling books including, Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.

Setting up an account with our store is free. Plus we are offering you an exclusive 10% discount and free shipping for orders $49 or more.

Visit our online store: wellevate.me/hallowell

Additional Resources:

Read Dr. Hallowell’s blog post on Family Breakfast.

Click here to learn about “Exercising your ADHD Brain”

Read about Connect: The Other Vitamin C.

OmegaBrite

This post contains affiliate links.

Therapy in the Age of Quarantine

At the Hallowell Centers, this damn virus is teaching us a whole new strategy for offering help, and it works like a charm. Thanks to online platforms, in the “Age of Quarantine” we are offering therapy.  We can “see” people remotely, and we’re discovering remote doesn’t feel remote at all. It feels almost like we’re in the same room, but there’s no risk of spreading infection.

Plus, no need to leave home, fight traffic, or park for your therapy session. Just pull up a chair, get a cold drink or a coffee, and sit down in front of your screen and see ME! Or any of the many other clinicians who remain ready from their homes to see YOU. The same services we’re so known for, only done from your home to one of our homes. And once this blasted virus goes away, I believe this new way of offering help will be be here to stay.

Remember my #1 rule “Never Worry Alone.” If you need help managing your mental health during these uncertain times, the Hallowell Centers can help you. Even if you are not a regular client or patient of ours and you’d simply like to have an appointment to check up on your mental health during Covid-19, we’re here to help. Just reach out to the any of The Hallowell Centers to set up an appointment.

HOW THE HALLOWELL CENTERS CAN HELP YOU

The pandemic is affecting the mental health and well being of adults and children. You’re daily routines have been changed and you find yourself grappling with anger, moodiness, and anxiety. Covid-19 is taking a toll on your emotional health and maybe even your relationships. At The Hallowell Centers, our clinicians can offer emotional and social support and provide the tools to help you deal with what you’re going through.

Here is a list of remote services offered remotely by the:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Adults and Children (CBT) is an evidence based treatment for anxiety and we have clinicians who can help you.

If you’re struggling with organizing and managing your work or school load, we have coaches who can help. Getting started is easy.  To inquire about scheduling a remote therapy session, contact the Hallowell Center of your choice.

TELETHERAWorried TeenPY / WORKSHOPS

Anxiety and Attention Issues: (for 12 – 25 year olds) – Dr Alisa Powers and Lisa Cornelio (MSW) are offering group and individual teletherapy for 12-25 year olds who may be struggling with attention or anxiety issues as well as any other challenges coming up at this time.

LEARN MORE HERE!

FOR PARENTS

Parenting in a PandemicParenting in a Pandemic
Dates TBD
This group session presented by Marcia Hochman, LMSW, MPA, will provide parents tips and strategies to reduce fear, anxiety and avoid information overload.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Parenting SupportOVERWHELMED? Parents are experiencing a great deal of stress and emotions right now in this current crisis. You’re trying to manage your own emotional rollercoaster of fear, loss, hope, and frustration while responding to all of your child’s emotions, too. If you are finding your own “cup” empty from filling up everyone else’s, you need support.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Support Group TeenagersFor Teenagers

Claire Golden, Ph.D.is offering a four-week group session for teenagers to connect with other teens for a weekly progress/check in. In her group, you’ll discuss common problems, trouble-shoot with each other, and provide external support and pressure to get those assignments done! Date/Time TBD.
Likewise, individual coaching sessions for teenagers struggling to manage the online learning environment are available with Dr. Golden.

LEARN MORE HERE!

Entrepreneur WorkingCoreFour Coaching for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our economy, yet the failure rate for new businesses is over 80%!  CoreFour Coaching with Rebecca Shafir helps entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs defy the startup failure rate by strengthening four core skills and routines

Support Groups For Professionals

Are Zoom meetings making it hard to be productive during the day? Do you find yourself struggling to stay on task while working from home? If you answered yes, join our support group for professionals with Claire Golden, Ph.D and connect with other professionals who are new to working from home! Individual Coaching Sessions for Adults / Professionals are also available with Dr. Golden.

LEARN MORE HERE!

 

Support for Overwhelmed Parents

Shelley MacLeod, LICSW is offering support for overwhelmed parents. Parents are experiencing a great deal of stress and emotions right now in this current crisis.  The truth is, many of us already felt overwhelmed before we even heard of Covid-19.  The amount of “hats” that parents are wearing right now is quite heavy:

  • parent,
  • teacher,
  • employee,
  • counselor,
  • worrier of loved ones,
  • Zoom play-date scheduler,
  • and many more!

You are also trying to manage your own emotional rollercoaster of fear, loss, hope, and frustration while responding to all of your child’s emotions, too.  If you are finding your own “cup” empty from filling up everyone else’s, you need support.

Shelley MacLeod, LICSW is available to offer support to parents through Zoom or phone appointments.  Shelley is a psychotherapist at the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest. She has more than a decade of experience of working with children and families with a warm engaging style.  She is also a mother of two young children.

Support sessions are available Monday through Friday via zoom or by phone.  If you would like to set up a Zoom or phone appointment with Shelley, fill out the form below:

Boston Parent Support with Shelley

  • Disclaimer: We do not sell or share your email with any other list. We promise not to SPAM you.

 

In his podcast, Dr. Hallowell offers some tips on How To Take Care of Yourself in Times of Crisis.

Learn about ADHD students and remote learning.

Secret Ingredient to Stoke Immune System

What is the secret ingredient to stoke your immune system during this stressful time, or DTST? (During This Stressful Time is a phrase we use so often now I think it deserves its own abbreviation, DTST.)

One of the best steps you can take is to bolster your immune system. It’s your body’s internal defense system. Combined with the inflammatory response, the immune response comes to our rescue every day, 24/7.

Well, DTST, we need our immune system to be in tip-top, best-possible fighting shape. This is obviously a premier, super high, gotta do it priority. Keeping your defenses up against invading microbes has never been more important.

But. . . how do you do it? 

You can probably guess some items on the list already. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Get regular exercise and good sleep. Don’t smoke. Drink alcohol only in moderation. De-stress.

But there is one magic ingredient that usually doesn’t make the list. I call it a “secret” ingredient because, even though there is a ton of evidence to prove its value—in fact it may be more powerful than all those other steps—it might as well be secret because most people don’t use it nearly enough nor do they know about its titanic healing and life-prolonging powers.

Even better, this ingredient is free and infinite in supply. Plus, it’s fun to use! 

What is this magic factor that’s fun, free, infinite in supply, and incredibly good for you?

In its most concentrated form we call it love. As it spreads out, I call it connection. The force of connection—from love to friendship to a relationship with a song or a cause—the force of connection does us more good, and spares us more ill, than any single force in the universe.

Connection—to people, pets (I adore dogs, but if you’re a cat person, that’s fine), places, ideas, objets d’art, the past, certain activities—connection to anything or anyone you care deeply about, that force does you more good than you likely know. Far more good. It enriches and actually lengthens your life. It provides you with a special satisfaction, with what Aristotle called eudaimon, literally “good spirit”, but much richer than that short term can impart. Aristotle deemed eudaimon as the highest good for human beings, the deepest satisfaction and fulfillment, what Maslow would call self-actualization, the most harmonious and joyful state a person can achieve.

And it all depends upon connection.

Not focusing on yourself, but on the connections your self can make outside of yourself. These are the connections and this is the force that, among other benefits, strengthens your immune system big time.

Since it’s free, fun, good for you, and easy to find, use it. Get and give massive doses of it every day. Even in quarantine or isolation, you do not need to be disconnected or lonely. Being lonely is bad for you. But you can cure loneliness with a:

  • phone call,
  • book,
  • piece of music,
  • dog (the best!),
  • email,
  • text,
  • trip down memory lane,
  • daydream,
  • fantasy

All you have to do is connect outside of yourself to anything, as long as you care deeply about it. Caring mildly is good too, just not as potent as caring deeply. Yes, the effect is dose-dependent, so if you want the really big bang for your connection buck, make it a connection you care deeply about.

This is the secret, the most magical ingredient we have to bolster immune function

And while you’re connecting, don’t forget the best foods*—citrus of all kinds; red bell peppers; Greek yogurt; almonds; broccoli; ginger; garlic’ turmeric; green tea; papaya; spinach; berries; as well as special mushrooms (all available in powder form on Wellevate or Amazon) like Reishi; Lions Mane; Turkey Tail (don’t you love these names?); and cordyceps; as well as shellfish, for the zinc.  And of course, exercise, meditate, pray, and sleep well.

But, above all, use copious amounts of the secret ingredient that should no more be secret DTST, connection. Connection, and its mother, love, drive the very best in life. The vast sea of connections beckons like a beautiful, infinite, shimmering pool. Jump in, have fun, and live long. And these days, stave off those nasty bugs with a super-charged immune system!

Warm wishes,

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D.

If you want to learn more about living a connected life, read Dr. Hallowell’s book: Connect

or watch his YouTube video on The Power of Vitamin Connect

*Disclaimer: These foods may be helpful in building your immune system, but they DO NOT prevent or protect you from COVID-19.  Here is a link to the CDC guidelines on How to Protect yourself.

Safety with COVID-19

We are all concerned about safety with COVID-19, which is why the Hallowell Centers are closely monitoring the current situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19.)

Since the health and safety of our clients and employees is of utmost importance to us, The Hallowell Centers will remain open to meet your needs, but during this crisis and for your safety, all of the services will be provided remotely for the foreseeable future.

Please note that all of our clinicians in Boston MetroWest, NYC, SFO, Palo Alto and Seattle are geared up to work with clients through virtual platforms, or even just the telephone, although having a visual does enhance the experience.

Call your center to get instructions to set this up (it’s WAY simple if I can do it, believe me!) so we can remain connected and provide the hope and help we’re in the business of providing. Learn more about Therapy in the Age of Quarantine.

For the most up-to-date news that relates to the center you visit, click their link below:

BostonMetroWest

New York City

San Francisco

Hallowell Todaro – Palo Alto and Seattle

Our staff and all clients are highly encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety for Covid-19 guidelines (see below) to appropriately respond to the potential public health threat posed by the virus.

Steps to take:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

If you do get sick, please call your primary care doctor for instructions before going to their office or to an urgent care or ER. If there is a real risk that you have COVID-19, they will order that test and direct you to a specialized testing site. This will protect you and others from unnecessary exposure.

Here are are some useful links for the latest information and guidance in this still-evolving situation:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

World Health Organization

Dr. Hallowell's Coronavirus Advice

Dr. Hallowell shares some basic facts about COVID-19 and practical advice on prevention and reducing anxiety in his podcast.

LISTEN HERE! Remember to stay safe, be careful and never worry alone!

Dr. Hallowell takes a moment in these uncertain times to tell you what his centers in Boston MetroWest and NYC are doing to address the issues created by the threat of Covid-19, as well as what he and his wife, Sue, are doing at home in his blog post on Managing These Uncertain Times.

How to talk to kids about the coronavirus, Hallowell Todaro blog post.

Stuck at home? Activities to Keep Kids Busy

How To Face Your Fears

When I first started speaking in public, I was terrified to speak in front of people. I had a phobia of public speaking. However, I had messages I wanted to share with the general public. I wanted to share what I knew about ADHD and other psychological topics.  So what was I to do? In my podcast on  How To Face Your Fears,” I describe how I overcame my fear of public speaking and offer ways you can overcome your phobia or fear.

As such, I invite you to listen and learn “How to Face Your Fears.”

LISTEN NOW! 

What’s the Difference Between Fear and Phobia?

Fear is an emotional response to perceived or real danger. It can be a wonderful ally as long as it goes off when it should. For example, when it keeps you from putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

When fear is of a specific thing, we call it a phobia.  A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that describes an excessive and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. Such as, fear of flying, fear of heights and fear of public speaking.

Phobias involve intense fear surrounding an object or situation that realistically poses little or no real danger. They are different from common fears in that the associated anxiety is so strong it interferes with daily life and the ability to function normally.  People suffering from phobias may go to extreme lengths to avoid encountering or experiencing the feared object or situation. If you have a fear or phobia that is paralyzing and life-defeating,  in addition to consulting with your family doctor, be sure to consult with experts in other fields

How the Hallowell Center Can Help

Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include therapy, medication or both.  When should you seek therapy? Generally when the phobia causes intense fear, anxiety or panic and it stops you from your normal routine or causes significant distress. Taking the time to get diagnosed and set up a treatment plan is an investment in your health and well-being.

Find out how one of our qualified mental health professionals can help you by calling The Hallowell Center:

Boston MetroWest at 978-287-0810

New York City at 212-799-7777

San Francisco at 415-967-0061

Seattle at 206-420-7345

 

How Alpha-Stim Reduces Anxiety

How Alpha-Stim Reduces Anxiety by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Perhaps the most common concern my entrepreneur clients report is anxiety and its cousin, insomnia. Founders have every reason to be anxious. In fact, if they are perfectly at ease with their startup, I get suspicious!  For those  new to  entrepreneurship there are constant battles between vision and reality, hope and doubt, deadlines and the worry of having no deadlines at all.  Consequently, I encourage my entrepreneurs-at- risk to hold off on big, costly decisions until they get a handle on their anxiety.

Control over anxiety means:

  • consistently good sleep
  • giving emotion a back seat when solving a problem
  • being able to re-frame mistakes and setbacks and move forward
  • the ability to inhibit impulsive actions and reactions.

Emotional control is one of the four core skills essential to healthy and successful entrepreneurship.

Helpful Anxiety-Reducing Activities

A review of the most helpful of anxiety-reducing activities include:

  • meditation,
  • yoga,
  • exercise,
  • visualization and
  • mindfulness training etc.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another fine option, but it requires regular sessions and practice. Others benefit from software tools like The Muse, Wild Divine, Heartmath and other kinds of biofeedback. The usual objections to these approaches include “not enough time,” or “the more I try to quiet my mind, the louder it gets.”

Alpha-Stim

Let me tell you about another safe, effective, well-tested approach for anxiety, insomnia (and depression). It is a form of cranial-electrotherapy called Alpha-Stim. This handheld device the size of a cell phone is user-friendly. Finally, it requires no practice or effort by the user, and it can be used while doing most other activities except driving.

Moods and emotions are controlled through electro-chemical signals in your brain. When these signals aren’t functioning properly, the hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions can become unbalanced resulting in an anxious state.Alpha-Stim

The Alpha-Stim device generates a signal that produces a waveform conducive to calmness and a better state of mind − the Alpha frequency  (8-12 Hz). Furthermore, the Alpha-Stim has been very helpful with many of my clients. For those that notice no change with the Alpha-Stim, other approaches such medications or neurofeedback may be more helpful.

To learn more about the Alpha-Stim, click here or email info@epii.com.

If you are local to the Boston MetroWest area, we offer a personalized Alpha-Stim demonstration and educational session at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, Mass. If you’d like to make an appointment call 978-287-0810.

Children and Anxiety

Signs and How to Help Children with Anxiety – Anxiety –or what I call “toxic worry”–is rampant among children these days.  Ask any school teacher and she or he will tell you that kids are worrying far more than they did just a decade ago.  Not necessarily rising to the level of a diagnosable anxiety disorder, like obsessive compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, toxic worry nonetheless is really bad for a child’s health, school performance, and sense of well being and security in the world.

These kids really do need help.  Aside from obvious signs, such as a child sharing many worries with others, or complaining of various somatic complaints or missing school due to minor illnesses, here are some less obvious signs that your child–or any child–may be suffering from toxic worry.

Signs That Your Child May Be Suffering From Toxic Worry

       1. The child just “isn’t himself” or “herself”.  Nothing specific, but the sparkle has left the eyes, and the usual buoyancy has sagged.  The once-happy child has been replaced not by an obviously unhappy child, but a child who is not the formerly overtly happy child.

       2. The child is not sleeping soundly, and wakes up tired.

       3.  The child is unusually clingy, not wanting to be left alone when normally he or she is fine alone, and has trouble going to bed without being tucked in or read to.

       4.  The child asks many questions about the state of the world, the health of parents and relatives, the health of the family pet, and the state of parents’ marriage (when normally the child does not ask these questions).

       5.  You notice little cuts, bruises, and other marks that could be the result of the child picking at his or her skin, or you notice fingernails bitten down to the quick.

       6.  The stories the child writes for English class at school reflect a dark or apprehensive tone or describe impending doom or bad times.

       7.  In repose the child looks worried or apprehensive.  When asked what he or she is thinking, the reply is, “Oh, not much.”

       8.  The child develops various superstitions, not to the level of OCD where the superstitions have to be obeyed, but just little new habits, like wanting to triple check that the doors are locked at night or that the toothbrush is thoroughly rinsed out.

       9.  The child spends inordinate time in escapist activities, like on-line games, fantasy literature, or science fiction movies.

       10.  The child does not volunteer for new activities, new trips, new adventures, or even to try a new restaurant, wanting instead familiar people, places, and routines.

Children and Anxiety: Three Steps For Managing Anxiety and Toxic Worry

What a parent, teacher, or other caring adult can do is follow these three steps, which are my carry-it-with-you-everywhere first-aid kit for toxic worry:

        1.  NEVER WORRY ALONE.  This motto should be emblazoned on every person’s brain, regardless of ago.  Connecting with a trusted other is BY FAR the best immediate remedy for toxic worry.

         2.  Get the facts.  Toxic worry is usually rooted in lack of information, wrong information, or both.  Do whatever you need to do to get the actual facts.

         3.  Based on those facts, and with the person you turned to to worry with, MAKE A PLAN.  When you have a plan you feel more in control and less vulnerable.  Toxic worry derives from feeling low on control and high on vulnerability, so when you reduce feelings of vulnerability and increase feelings of control, you reduce toxic worry.  Making a plan does this. If the plan does not work, you revise the plan.  That’s what life is all about, revising plans that didn’t totally work.

Resources:

Learn how the Hallowell Centers Can Help You.

When You Worry About The Child You Love

What is constructive worry?  What is toxic worry?  Dr. Hallowell gives guidance on what they are and how to tell the difference in his podcast on Don’t Worry, Do This Instead.