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  • Writer's pictureKate Killion

Nutrition and ADHD medication: When you have no appetite

A sectioned pill box, assumingly for ADHD medication like Adderall or Ritalin.

Managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) comes with a variety of challenges. Often, parents of kids with ADHD (or those with ADHD themselves) come to me with a similar set of nutrition concerns. They aren’t hungry during the day, and only want to eat “snack foods.” As the medication wares off, they might become absolutely ravenous- and often, hangry. Enter worries about nutrition and ADHD medication.

In this article, we will explore simple and effective tips for to address lack of appetite while taking ADHD medication.

Understanding the Connection

Stimulants used to treat ADHD, like Ritalin or Adderall, suppress appetite for some people. This happens because stimulants increase dopamine production, which makes you feel satisfied. This can be a cause for concern, as proper nutrition is crucial for optimal immune health, energy, and overall wellbeing. For children, sufficient nutrition is important for growth and development. However, with the right approach, children and adults with ADHD can consume a well-balanced diet.

Pack Nutrients into Snacks

One practical way to address reduced appetite is to focus on providing nutrient-dense and calorie-dense snacks. Some of my favorite foods high in calories and nutrients include nuts and nut butters, oils, avocado, hummus, and whole fat dairy. Add these high-fat foods to your favorite snacks to increase nutrient and calorie density. For example, try peanut butter and apple slices, whole-milk yogurt with nuts and dried fruit, or cheese and crackers.

Not sure what to eat? A registered dietitian can help. Book an appointment online, by email (, or phone ((833) 516-0454). We take health insurance!

Drink your Calories and Nutrients

We often hear phrases like, “don’t drink your calories!” However, when you do not have an appetite, consuming drinks with calories can actually be very helpful. Many people find it easier to drink a smoothie, for example, than eat a plate of fruit and nuts. Try combining this tip with the previous tip, making smoothies with added nut butters, avocado, and whole milk.

Set an Eating Schedule

Many people with ADHD find it helpful to eat at the same times every day. Based on your work or school schedule, set the goal to eat a meal or snack every 3 hours or so. Over time, consistency in meal times can help your or your child’s body adjust to a regular eating pattern. Plus, it will make sure you do not forget to eat.

Don’t forget Hydration

When you do not have an appetite, you may also forget to drink water. Staying hydrated is often overlooked but plays a significant role in overall health. Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of fatigue and further decrease appetite. Water and other beverages like tea and coffee can contribute to meeting hydration needs. Some people like to avoid carbonated beverages, which may further stifle your appetite.

Taste and Texture Matter

This likely won’t come as a surprise, but it is easier to eat foods that you genuinely enjoy. When you are really struggling to eat, or your child is struggling to eat, rely on “safe foods” that usually taste good. Try experimenting with different textures that might make the meal or snack more enticing. Crunchy foods are a common favorite!

Support your child at mealtimes

If you are a parent to a child with ADHD, you might often feel frustrated at mealtimes. After all, you know they would feel better if they just ate. And you know that your night will be even more stressful if they don’t eat (remember: hangry kids). However, children tend to be very aware of our emotions. Do your best to avoid pressure to eat, as this can increase your child’s stress and lack of appetite. Instead, make mealtime a pleasant and relaxed experience. Encourage other family members to participate, making it a social and enjoyable activity.

Consider Supplements

In consultation with your registered dietitian, you may explore the option of multivitamins or other supplements to fill potential nutritional gaps. While foods should be the primary source of nutrients and calories for kids and adults, supplements can act as a safety net to help meet basic nutrition needs.

Talk to your or your child’s doctor

Finally, always communicate with your healthcare provider. Sometimes, a severe lack of appetite is a sign that your medication type or dose is not quite right. Finding the correct treatment plan for ADHD takes time, but you can do it with the proper support.


Navigating ADHD requires a holistic approach that includes addressing nutritional concerns. Adults and parents can empower themselves with practical strategies to ensure well-being while on ADHD medication. By incorporating nutrient-dense snacks, embracing smoothies, establishing regular mealtimes, staying hydrated, choosing tasty foods, fostering a supportive meal environment, and considering supplements when necessary, it is possible to meet nutrient needs while taking ADHD medication. It's essential to remember that every person with ADHD is unique, so finding the right balance may require some experimentation.

For support in your or your child’s ADHD journey, book a session with our registered dietitian (or, call (833) 516-0454). Together, we will find a solution that meet your and your family’s unique needs.

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