ADHD and Food Routines: Five Strategies To Make Cooking Easier

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

A struggle that is less recognised, but common with ADHD, is establishing routines around food. There's a lot that goes into it: shopping, figuring out what you want to eat, finding the time to eat, the preparation, all just to do it again in a few hours! Perhaps these difficulties are one of the reasons ADHD has been related to unhealthy eating patterns and associated health struggles [1]–[3].


So, what can we do as ADHD adults to help manage our eating routines? Below I've outlined five different strategies that have worked for others with ADHD. If you need some additional support, our neurodiverse ADHD coaches can also help to develop and optimise these routines alongside you.


1. Invest in a Freezer

If you have ADHD, remembering which meal has been in the fridge and for how long can start to feel complicated. Let alone the days you've forgotten to eat the meal in the fridge or simply don't want it. That’s why having a freezer can really help. Cooling freezable meals in small portions allows you to have something stored away for those days you don't have anything ready; without feeling like you have to eat the same meal from the fridge every week.


2. Use Online Delivery When Possible

Going to the grocery store can be an overwhelming and overstimulating experience for some people with ADHD. Taking the time to write a list of what you need, finding necessary replacements, and doing it all without becoming distracted are executive functioning tasks we can struggle with. And that's before we get home with the shopping and have to unpack!


Online delivery options help streamline this process, allowing you to save your shopping list digitally and avoid the supermarket altogether. So if you have the option, consider setting up online delivery and treating grocery stores as places you go to browse for interesting new items rather than do the weekly shop.


3. Appliances With Automated Timers Can Help

One of the things both I and others with ADHD can struggle with is walking away from the stove. Yes, timers can help, but remembering to turn them on and off adds a layer of stress to the food-making process. Instead, investing in items you can set up and leave can help avoid potentially dangerous situations and give us time to do something more fun. Examples include a rice cooker, an air fryer, instant pot, or slow cooker. Take a look at the kind of food you make and ask yourself which appliances might help take care of the turning on and off process for you?


4. Body Double in the Kitchen

Spending time in the kitchen can be tedious. It can also be hard to motivate ourselves to start, especially after work. To help build momentum and transition into kitchen prep, try recruiting a member of your household or even a friend online to get started with you. If you're both in the kitchen assign each other different tasks, e.g., one person clears while the other preps. This can help keep you focused on your goal.


5. Keep Healthy Snacks Around

Sometimes you finish an activity, and you’re just too hungry to make food. Even the idea of defrosting something in the microwave feels like an effort. During times like these, it's good to have a stock of healthy snacks you can grab and eat before cooking. This can provide the energy you need to move to the next step.


Hopefully, these tips help you better understand how you might make preparing food an easier ADHD process. Remember this can be a struggle for many people, so it's understandable if it feels that way for you as well.


Talk to you again soon!


Skye



Author:

Skye Rapson is an Academic, ADHD Coach and the Founder of Unconventional Organisation. She has worked in the field of adult education for over seven years. Skye has studied in various fields, including Psychology, Sociology, and Public Health, and is now a Doctoral Candidate in Population Health. You can read more about Skye on our home page or connect with her on LinkedIn.



References

[1] P. Brunault et al., ‘Adulthood and childhood ADHD in patients consulting for obesity is associated with food addiction and binge eating, but not sleep apnea syndrome’, Appetite, vol. 136, pp. 25–32, May 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.01.013.

[2] P. Kaisari, C. T. Dourish, and S. Higgs, ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disordered eating behaviour: A systematic review and a framework for future research’, Clin. Psychol. Rev., vol. 53, pp. 109–121, Apr. 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.03.002.

[3] S. Hershko, S. Cortese, E. Ert, A. Aronis, A. Maeir, and Y. Pollak, ‘The influence of attractiveness and convenience cues on food appeal in adults with and without ADHD’, Appetite, vol. 150, p. 104679, Jul. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104679.






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