Saturday, July 11, 2009

Evidence of God's Sense of Humor--ADHD

The connection between ADHD and compulsive eating is something I've been noticing in myself for some time. I've never actually read a study directly connecting them, but ADHD in women is known to cause depression and low self-esteem since it often affects our ability to keep up with things that are automatically expected of women--like neat, clean houses, organized schedules (for the whole family), doing all the shopping, following recipes, etc. We spend a lot of time trying to be good at things we're not good at, and trying to fit the mold (which nobody really does-but we don't even come close.) Eating has always helped me concentrate and focus and sit still.

Maybe there is a study out there that shows a relationship. I found one article that mentioned it but I mislaid it. LOL. One of the strongest markers of ADHD in women is disorganization and an inability to stay on task. (Although some people actually overcompensate and become rigidly organized because otherwise the world is too overwhelming.) ADHD people tend to be more right-brained and creative.

I read Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Effective People 2 or 3 times, attended training in 7 Habits of Effective Organizations, and had a Covey/Franklin Dayplanner, which I was continually searching for and forgetting to write stuff in. I can tell you what people need to do to act organized and I can fool people into thinking that I am organized (temporarily) but it didn't change the way I was made. I make lists and lose them. I go to the store with a list, check things off, and still come home without something on the list. I don't do recipes with more than 3 ingredients. I cook by the seat of my pants.

I've come up with many compensating techniques that have helped me survive. Food, especially chocolate, is one of them. Chocolate, of course, is full of caffeine. People with ADHD frequently self-medicate with caffeine. They are also more prone to self-medicate with alcohol, tobacco, and certain drugs. So why shouldn't food be one of the "drugs?" Chocolate is also known to produce seratonin in the brain and therefore is a natural antidepressant. Like we need one more excuse to eat it. But food and chocolate helped me survive. I think I should be grateful for them even though I now have to move past them.

The high protein low carb nature of the food recommedations for bandsters works very well with my ADHD. I'm supposed to pick protein first and then veggies and fruit and if there's still room I can have a little bit of of carbs like potatoes, noodles, rice, etc. I keep Atkins high protein shakes on hand if I don't feel like cooking or if I feel like my stomach really doesn't want solid protein right now which, first thing in the morning, it tends to reject.

My stomach definitely does the weighing and measuring for me on the protein, especially if I don't drink for 30 minutes before, or during, or for 30 minutes after the meal. I am quickly full and have little room for anything else. I put a variety of proteins in my home so I don't get bored with my food choices. I'm not a huge veggie and fruit eater but I have V8 and diet V8 Splash as part of my 64 oz of liquid and I get my dairy in my two 20 oz. iced decaf lattes with 1% milk and Splenda. I sip one all morning and one all afternoon, and the milk seems to keep me from getting hungry. I have a very skinny straw that only allows me to sip, so I'm not gulping my liquids or finishing them fast. I have sugar free low-fat pudding snacks for at night if I'm hungry, and low-fat Mexican cheeze to make the proteins taste better. These help toward my dairy, too.

I don't make potatoes, rice, or noodles and so am not tempted. If I'm eating somewhere other than at home I may allow myself a little--after I've eaten protein.

I may try a taste of this or that treat at a party, just to not feel deprived but then I go into another room away from the food and stay there.

This is actually a pretty simple diet. It doesn't involve any planning or writing down my food. It doesn't involve weighing or measuring portions. It works with my ADHD instead of against it and I'm not walking around feeling guilty for not being able to do all those other techniques just like I was not able to use a planner.

I'm walking at least 45 minutes a day which helps control my ADHD as well as my appetite. At night I write my blog which is really helping me to not eat at a time when I used to eat treats non-stop. It's also helping me to explore the reasons I eat. Putting it down on paper is really helping me deal with and eliminate the cravings.

Writing has always been a way to get what's stuck inside me, ideas, feelings, etc. out where I can deal with them. I've said before that ideas flow out my fingers like confetti when I'm composing. Its like my creative, feeling, flight of ideas right brain cooperates instead of fights with my language centered, logical left brain to create amazingly (to me) well-written organized articles.

I'm learning to love this crazy complex lady who alternates between being a ditz and being competent, sticking my foot in my mouth and moving people to tears, letting myself be controlled by other people and overcontrolling others, hubris and self-contempt.

It is so amazing that God loves me, that he gave me the the gift of ADHD with all its attendant problems and joys. He also gives me the tools to survive and even thrive. ADHD people are frequently huge brainstormers and creative problem solvers. We are the best solvers of the problems our ADHD creates. Such irony. God has a sense of humor.