The Paleo View

TPV Podcast, Episode 145: ADHD

Ep. 145, ADHD

On this episode of The Paleo View, Stacy and Sarah are joined by the Paleo Parent’s oldest, Cole, to share on his ADHD, what they have done to manage his symptoms, and the results they have found. Sarah also shared on the science behind caffeine supplementation with those who have ADHD.

The Paleo View TPV 145 adhd cole

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The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 145, ADHD

  • Intro (0:00)
  • News and Views (0:56)
    • Cole is joining Stacy and Sarah for this week’s show, and given the complexities of interviewing a kid, Stacy can offer her perspective on a lot of the points they will discuss
    • Stacy wants everyone to remember that paleo is not a panacea – the past year has been a struggle for Stacy and family, and is something they haven’t been talking about because it hasn’t been appropriate to share
    • Now Cole feels comfortable talking about some of the details, and wants to share where he is at in his journey
    • Stacy wants to remind people that they have been paleo for over five years, and three years into the past five years was when they started having problems, and it was not related to food – dairy was one of the things they tried to be strict on, so they did n=1 experiments taking it out with formal reintroductions without any signs of dairy being the problem
    • So many people within the paleo community feel strongly that if you just paleo hard enough all of your problems will be solved, and that is not always the same, sometimes there are lifestyle factors that go into that equation
    • And beyond diet and lifestyle there can be a genetic disposition or a type of problem that paleo has helped, but can’t be solved by it alone
    • Matt and his experience with ADHD is a great example of these kind of scenarios
    • People need to be open minded that there are other things you can do when the going gets difficult
    • Stacy and Matt were trying really hard for a really long time and they finally had some breakthroughs in their own experimentation, as it is a success story, but it certainly wasn’t without its trials and tribulations
    • Sarah’s reflection on how difficult it is to share on your journey when you are in the middle of it, especially when it has to do with the health of a family member
    • Sarah notes that it is especially important to note for those who are new to paleo, that the diet is not a cure all – sometimes it does require tinkering, and/or pairing with supplements and/or medications
    • Paleo does not mean that you don’t ever see your doctor again, it isn’t anti-conventional medicine
    • Paleo is a lifestyle that informs a lot of the choices we make
    • Neither Stacy or Sarah are ADHD experts, but through Stacy’s experience they hope to offer some insight and information to others
  • Cole’s ADHD and the Troubleshooting Process (9:40)
    • ADHD is the disorder that is the parent to three different branches of behavioral disorders, one of which is attention deficit disorder
    • Another is impulse control disorder, and this is what Cole has
    • When someone has ADD, they have the attention version of ADHD
    • ADD and ADHD are more synonymous than they are separate
    • The mechanisms that Stacy talks about has to do with the impulse control disorder
    • Before Stacy and Matt went paleo Cole had severe ADHD from an early young age, they were all impulse related activities
    • All that Stacy and Matt do to assist Cole in managing his ADHD is to help him control his body, the more they work with his body the better the results they see
    • One of the things they focus on is a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in his diet, and they work on his omega-3 intake through real food sources
    • When Stacy and Matt started doing further research on how to help Cole, Stacy reached out to Sarah because Stacy wanted Sarah’s feedback on kids having caffeine to help manage ADHD
    • Through Stacy’s research she found that coffee does not stunt growth, and also looked to see if supplementation would work better than drinking coffee
    • They then tried putting Cole on 1/2 a cup of cold brewed coffee with grass-fed cream, and Cole enjoyed the taste of it and the behavior results after a few days were amazing
    • Matt and Stacy also implemented the elimination of screen time at the same time that coffee was introduced, which was very difficult to do since Cole loves video games
    • What Matt and Stacy have seen since they have made these changes and how amazing it feels, and these changes have nothing to do with paleo
    • In the beginning paleo was transformational for Matt, Stacy and family, but it wasn’t enough at a certain point in Cole’s development
    • Sarah highlights that the three biggest things that worked for Cole were:
      • More sleep
      • No screen time (turning into more play, time outside, etc.)
      • Incorporating caffeine
    • Stacy feels like the biggest factor has been the removal of screen time
    • They have even been able to reduce the amount of caffeine Cole is having, and they allow Cole to decide when he feels like he needs the caffeine as he has learned how his body feels and what results it brings
  • From Cole’s Perspective (24:50)
    • Welcome back to The Paleo View buddy! This is his third appearance
    • Cole’s grades and when he was having a hard time
    • He tried some new things, like learning to play cello, but it wasn’t enough
    • How Cole feels when he drinks coffee
    • How the behavioral chart works with behavioral changes at school
    • New behavioral rewards for Cole since he is no longer rewarded with screen time
    • What they saw from all the changes in his third quarter of school
    • Some of these things may not work for all kids
    • Exercise before school – get your wiggles out in the morning
    • All of the things that Cole is doing that is working really well:
      • Testing what foods worked and didn’t work
      • Having coffee on important days
      • Not getting too hungry
      • Getting better sleep
  • Stacy reminds listeners that they are not medical professionals, this is personal experimentation, and they have been working with staff at Cole’s school and his medical doctor to make informed choices
  • Science with Sarah (47:21)
    • Caffeine was first suggested as a management tool for ADHD in 1973
    • There have been a variety of studies looking at both caffeine pills and coffee in symptom management of ADHD
    • The euphoria that comes with coffee and how we can become tolerant to that
    • How coffee impacts two different kind of receptors in the brain
    • The studies that have been done to date on consuming caffeine to manage ADHD have been on small groups, they are not placebo controlled, but there is enough data amongst the studies to pit caffeine against ADHD medication
    • The studies show that caffeine is not as good, however, the side effects of the most common ADHD medication are difficult to manage and caffeine does not share the lengthy list of side effects
    • Studies show that caffeine is also better than no treatment at all
    • Low does appears to better than high dose
    • It is still not clear what the best frequency and dosage is for caffeine usage in kids managing ADHD
    • The benefits of going through phases without any form of stimulant
    • Studies do show that it is worth trying, but Sarah notes that you should always talk to your medical professional before trying something like this and monitor the situation closely as well
  • Caffeine was a last ditch effort for Matt and Stacy, and fortunately it worked and they will continue to monitor his behavioral chart to evaluate his progress
  • This journey is entirely different for everyone, and Stacy hopes that they have inspired others to have faith and courage in doing this stuff and knowing that you may or may not see results, but that it can be worth trying
  • Stacy hopes that even for those who do not deal with ADHD, that they can see that paleo isn’t a cure all, and sometimes people need more and to have empathy for those situations
  • It is ok to be in the frustrated ‘now what’ moment, and it is ok if paleo doesn’t fix everything – it doesn’t make you a failure
  • Sarah’s Memorial Day weekend visit with Russ
  • How Russ has influenced Matt’s cooking
  • The games Stacy, Matt and family most love
  • Stacy’s strawberry picking over the weekend – see the epic Strawberry post and special recipe here
  • Outro (1:14:28)

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  • Christine

    Listened last night – awesome show! So great of Cole to share himself to help others. I love when a podcast is uplifting like this one was. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  • Jilli

    First, Cole you were AWESOME. It takes a brave person to openly explain how they have problems; it takes a strong person to explain how they are overcoming those problems; it takes a kind to want to reach out to help others. I know that you will help others by your honesty. Thank you so much.

    Stacy, Matt and Sarah, I admire you parents in your quest to help your children!

    Sarah and Stacy, thanks for again acknowledging Paleo isn’t the end all and be all of perfect health. I grow tired of the religiosity of so many followers of life styles, be it Paleo or others, that think their way erases genetic and other factors out of a person’s control.

    • Thank you so much! I let Cole know your kind words, but also thanks for acknowledging and letting us know how you feel <3 Sometimes it's hard not being in the "cool club" of perfectionism, but with families we find it's just impossible.

  • Melody

    THANK YOU for sharing!! We are currently in the throes of research and experimentation for our almost 7-year old after a REALLY tough 1st grade year. We have dabbled in chore charts and the like, but constantly were getting frustrated with each other when he just couldn’t seem to grasp the simplest things from day to day and was super disruptive in his classroom. We were mostly Paleo, but went 100% gluten-free towards the end of the year which made a significant difference, but now we are wanting to learn how to interact with him and work with his behavior instead of trying to change it. He listened to a little bit of the podcast with me today (mainly the part that Cole was on) and he is excited to try some things that will help him “be aware of his surroundings and his body”.

    Please tell Cole we think he is wonderful and brave for being so open and helping other families on their journeys. And our youngest son is named Cole. So I mean. It’s meant to be.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and support! It means a lot to us and to Cole!! Wishing you lots of luck with your son!

  • Shannon Abbott

    Hi I listened to your podcast this morning. My 7 year old also has ADHD (struggles with impulse control). We have recently decided to remove screen time as well. Just curious how you handle this with school wanting them to use computer programs at home or using iPads in the classroom?

  • Sally Coiner

    I’m 26, and I have depression and really bad ADD and always have. Thank you, Cole, for talking about this!! I only listened to this because you were on it- it’s just not the same when people talk about our brains like they understand but don’t actually know how it feels. I quit my meds four years ago because my then- boyfriend (now my husband) said they took away my personality (he was right!). I’m so impressed that you can tell when you need coffee; I’ve been treating myself with coffee for three years, and I still can’t do that! I do have a question for you, if you don’t mind. Do you notice a difference in how you feel after screen time? I can’t have Red 40 food dye, and if I eat it accidentally, I feel angry and like I want to cry and punch things and get a hug all at the same time, and I also feel like everybody is being mean to me. It’s really obvious when I have it, and it feels terrible- do you notice screen time like that?

    Stacy- thank you for not punishing Cole for having ADHD!!! It is sometimes absolutely impossible for our brains to be like yours, and if we’re punished for being ourselves, we think it’s us that’s the problem. Also, I absolutely and completely respect your decision, but I think you should let Cole try taking coffee to school. The end of the day is the worst, at least for me- not only am I probably hungry, and certainly a little mentally worn out, I’ve expended all my extra energy from having to sit still and control myself. In college, I had to leave afternoon classes and have ‘wiggle time’ in the bathroom.

    Thank you for this great resource!!

    • Thank you so much for reaching out and for the support and encouragement you shared with Cole. It has been such a tremendous opportunity for Cole to hear from others who have experienced much of the same things that he does. Thank you so much!

      In terms of the screen time impact, yes, Cole notices a difference. We all notice a difference. Cole is at his best when we focus on spending time outdoors, reading books, playing board and card games, etc.

      And thank you for the support you shared for our parenting approach with all of this!! It has definitely been a journey of trial and error.

      So happy to hear you appreciate this resource, and thank you again for reaching out to Cole!