Dieting with Obstacles - ADD and Weight Issues




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bindersbee
02-10-2009, 11:18 AM
In the last year I had a little epithany. The biggest obstacle for me in losing weight is my ADD. I have done a little research and found there is a HUGE connection between ADD and weight gain.

As I've been trying to lose it's so hard because I just don't have the attention span to track my calories. That falls into the category of niggling detail my brain doesn't deal with well. I just finisshed reading an online article about it and it all made so much sense. And left me feeling pretty hopeless about being able to overcome it all to lose. I also have mild PCOS which increases the challenge further.

I've slowly lost weight since September (a whopping 20 lbs.) and I am proud of that. I'm proud that I'm still trying to lose as I've never been able to pay attention and stick with something for the longer than 6-8 weeks before. But I'm frustrated too. Other people can do this and I just flounder. Lots of self-esteem crap from the ADD beyond the weight. I'm considering going back to work and I'm worried about how my performance with work might be affected by this. I've struggled a little in the past with work because of it.

I find that for the first time in my life, I am seriously considering being medicated for it. I'm scared to do that because of the potential of abuse associated with the meds. I don't have any sort of history of that (I don't drink at all, never smoked and have never done drugs) but it's serious medication and not to be taken lightly. The fear of developing a problem has kept me from being medicated in the past.

Does anyone else struggle with ADD and weight issues? What has helped you overcome the challenges?


Buckeye
02-10-2009, 04:27 PM
My daughter has ADD and also struggles with her weight - but the opposite. She is thin and cannot seem to gain. However, she is only 15 and I keep telling her that she should be more concerned with being healthy. But here is what I wanted to say about the meds. Yes, most ADD meds are Class 1 narcotics but they will truly improve your quality of life. As long as there is no history of substance abuse I can't see that there would be an issue. You would be required to have a psych monitor your progress. The benefits are worth it...

lobon
02-18-2009, 09:27 AM
actually the add meds are not narcotics, they are stimulants. stimulants tend to cause loss of appetite, which is why kids and adults medicated for add/adhd tend to have trouble GAINING weight. when used properly, these medications are very rarely habit forming.


prinny
03-02-2009, 12:04 AM
I have ADD but I rarely take my meds unless I absolutely have to. Luckily I am also OCD enough to like all the micromanagement of calorie counting.

skatardrummer
03-14-2009, 01:44 AM
I've had ADD all my life and it was completely ignored because of my above average IQ. They tried to medicate me finally when I turned 19 only to find out I was allergic to amphetamines.

My power to overcome ADD? Talking about it. God. Mental excersise...all the time. If you have ADD, you probably notice that you go crazy if you're not multitasking all the time. It's too hard to focus on one thing. Practice reading while walking because it stimulates your memory (but for heaven's sake, don't do it in public places where people get hurt, haha). When you have to focus on a single thing, focus your thoughts on mini-goals to it. It's like multi-tasking while working towards one purpose.

ADD can be overcome without medication. Not go away, just dealt with. It takes support and self-dicipline, but I think more people should try this way. It's more rewarding and you don't have to rely on excuses to get through life. I personally hate having to admit to my ADD in situations I can't cope with, so I learn to cope over time.

Love handles well
12-09-2011, 12:31 PM
Food controlled my life from as far back as I could remember. I never understood why I would impulsively eat, loose motivation and have trouble to sticking to tasks. Finally after going to my universities psychologist for anxiety she found anxiety was a symptom not the cause. I was referred to a psychiatrist and they evaluated me for ADHD. At 23 I thought it wasn't possible for me to have it. After being medicated for 2 months at the lowest dose of 10-20 mg I finally have grip on my life. I am funding it enjoyable and now I find my impulses for food has disappeared. The medication does suppress appetites but it's easier to make healthier food choices. I have lost 6 pounds after finally trying in just 3 weeks. I think you are reasonable, for the fact that you have weighed all the pros and cons of the medication. I applaud you for realizing the seriousness of the medication as well. If taken as directed it can't harm you, only improve your quality of life. Also my doctor informed me that if you do not have AdHD or ADD the medication acts like crack and keeps you up for many hours, if you do have it, it brings you down and calms you. I find I am more calm and relaxed rather than jittery and crazed! Good luck !

theox
12-09-2011, 04:01 PM
In the last year I had a little epithany. The biggest obstacle for me in losing weight is my ADD. I have done a little research and found there is a HUGE connection between ADD and weight gain.

As I've been trying to lose it's so hard because I just don't have the attention span to track my calories. That falls into the category of niggling detail my brain doesn't deal with well. I just finisshed reading an online article about it and it all made so much sense. And left me feeling pretty hopeless about being able to overcome it all to lose. I also have mild PCOS which increases the challenge further.

I've slowly lost weight since September (a whopping 20 lbs.) and I am proud of that. I'm proud that I'm still trying to lose as I've never been able to pay attention and stick with something for the longer than 6-8 weeks before. But I'm frustrated too. Other people can do this and I just flounder. Lots of self-esteem crap from the ADD beyond the weight. I'm considering going back to work and I'm worried about how my performance with work might be affected by this. I've struggled a little in the past with work because of it.

I find that for the first time in my life, I am seriously considering being medicated for it. I'm scared to do that because of the potential of abuse associated with the meds. I don't have any sort of history of that (I don't drink at all, never smoked and have never done drugs) but it's serious medication and not to be taken lightly. The fear of developing a problem has kept me from being medicated in the past.

Does anyone else struggle with ADD and weight issues? What has helped you overcome the challenges?

First off, congratulations on losing 20 pounds! :carrot::carrot::carrot:

If your doctor has already suggested that you try medication, then I think you should give it due consideration. Taking medication is a big step, and one that deserves a lot of thought, which you're clearly giving it. Have you talked with your doctor about this?

From what I understand, the risk of addiction to stimulant ADHD medications when they're used as prescribed isn't actually that high. Obviously, if there's a particular reason that you might be at increased risk (e.g., family history of substance abuse), you would want to let your doctor know about it.

If you do decide to take a stimulant medication to treat ADHD, your doctor should be monitoring its effects on you at the check-up you should have every time you need to get a new written prescription (Schedule II drugs like methylphenidate can't be refilled or phoned in). If he doesn't, then you need to find a better doctor. Because you're already aware of the potential for addiction, monitor yourself if you're started on a stimulant med. If you take a stimulant medication and think you might be on the path to addiction, then you should tell your doctor. There are people who stop taking a wide variety of Schedule II drugs because they're aware of the risks and do think that they're becoming addicted.

Of course, there are also non-stimulant medications available for ADD/ADHD. They might be worth researching and asking your doctor about.

What are you doing to manage your ADD, self-esteem, and weight loss issues now?


I was only diagnosed a little over a year ago, and medication has made all the difference in the world for me in pretty much every area of my life. I've written about it below in case it's useful for you. Basically, medication was the key for me, maybe it's the key for you too.

Like you, I would be able to start a weight loss plan (nothing crazy, we're talking WW) and do well, but not be able to maintain it. It just took all my energy to stay focused enough to handle minimum self-care tasks and one "normal" but completely draining activity that was expected of me. I could go to school OR work OR lose weight, but I could barely handle trying to do two of those at the same time, and school and work always had to get priority (otherwise I was wasting money or being a lazy bum). The couple periods where I wasn't in school and was unemployed and actively trying to lose weight were the most successful, but it didn't last as soon as I had to do anything else. A couple different times I managed to lose about 25 lbs on my own or with WW and maintain it in my early 20s, but it always went back up.

A few months after I started taking medication for the ADHD, I had noticed enough of a change in myself to think that maybe the doc was right, and having an ADHD brain might be the main reason that my life (and weight loss) had been so puzzlingly overwhelming and difficult despite me being a reasonably intelligent and hardworking person, and despite having unknowingly developed coping and compensation skills to deal with several of the difficulties I experienced. So at the end of last year, when I had reached my highest ever weight, I decided to give it another try by making simple changes to my diet - cooking more food from scratch (more or less), eating less junk, and eating out less.

As you can see from my stats, it's been working. Not breaking any speed records here ;), but this is the first time in my life that I've been able to stick with any weight loss attempt for so long. And I'm in GRAD SCHOOL - it's amazing to me that I have been able to lose weight while in an academic program. In the past school completely overwhelmed everything else in my life. Every other time I just got too overwhelmed or too busy trying to keep up with everything else I had to do to work on changing my bad eating and activity habits.

I have never experienced appetite suppression as a side effect of the stimulant medication I'm on. I've never felt "high" from my medication. It just makes life not overwhelming and incomprehensible anymore. My doctor told me that the medication will get an ADHD person about 40% of the way, and the rest depends on our effective use of other tools and therapies (e.g., time management tools, CBT (another thing my doc introduced me to that has been tremendously helpful), meditation, exercise, diet, working on social awareness/skills, memory training or using memory aids, making ourselves conform to a structure that works for us, avoiding or eliminating distractions, building a life that works with us instead of against us).

I think he's right. I'm not any more intelligent, any less capable of working hard, or any less hungry than I was before I started the medication. I still have a lot of behaviors and habits to work on to make my life better. I still get stressed-out and upset about things, but they're relatively normal levels of stress for relatively normal problems or occurrences. I'm not paralyzed, having a near-meltdown, or distracting myself by eating or sleeping because of a measly five page paper on something that I'm knowledgeable about and know how to write.

All that's changed is that I can now stay focused enough (without hyperfocusing on school or a job) to adopt and practice all those other tools, many of which I already knew about, with a greater degree of consistency. That makes it possible to balance a major lifestyle change like trying to lose over half my body weight with school, work, and (for the first time since the preschool years) a real social life.

Am I perfect? No. I've been busy this week trying to get my coursework wrapped up, and even though I don't feel overwhelmed like I used to and even feel okay enough to take intentional breaks (as opposed to just getting distracted), I've still made some relatively poor food choices out of stress and habit. But even my poor choices haven't been nearly as bad as the poor choices I've made in similar situations in the past. I'm sure I'll be up at my next weigh-in, but these days I know it won't be too bad and I know I'll get it back down. And at the end of next semester I'll probably do even better.

Everybody is different. Some people are able to manage their ADD or ADHD superbly without medication, and some find that correctly using their medication really helps. I'd like to stop taking medication, but until I know enough, have enough other tools in place, and have a much more settled life, I think the medication is really important. There's nothing wrong with either of those options. Proper diagnosis is like a key to a house. All the tools and therapies that are used to treat ADHD "symptoms" are like keys to parts of the house, and everybody's house is different. For me, and I think for many other responsible, hardworking adults, using a medication as it is prescribed (not abusing it, not only taking it once in a while-that does next to no good) has been the key that unlocked the main hallway and made effectively using everything else I already knew or have learned since diagnosis possible.

theox
12-09-2011, 04:41 PM
ADD can be overcome without medication. Not go away, just dealt with. It takes support and self-dicipline, but I think more people should try this way. It's more rewarding and you don't have to rely on excuses to get through life. I personally hate having to admit to my ADD in situations I can't cope with, so I learn to cope over time.

What do you mean by "more rewarding?" More rewarding than what?

What do you mean by excuses?

The impression (perhaps incorrect) I get from your post is that you think that people who use medication to help manage their brains don't also work hard to make effective use other tools to improve their functionality. That may be true for some people, but it's not true for everybody who takes a medication for ADHD.

ADHD isn't a personal flaw or moral failing, and taking medication for it isn't an admission of failure or weakness, any more it is to take medication for another biologically-based condition. It's one of many tools that can help people lead lives that are more productive and more fulfilling than they might have otherwise. If it's not a tool that you need or want to use, that's fine. But that doesn't make it a bad or worthless tool.

Like you, my above average intelligence made getting the correct diagnosis and treatment difficult. I was correctly diagnosed at age 7 and my parents disregarded it because I was "too smart." I was diagnosed with a lot other things later on, none of which fit, and the treatments for which didn't work. Finally got the right diagnosis (again) in my mid-20s. I too have learned a lot of ways to cope and compensate over the years. The things I learned helped me a lot and I worked really hard, but not enough to keep my life from being miserable. I got more and more exhausted, and found it more and more difficult to be able to function at anything above a minimum level.

Almost all of the non-pharmaceutical brain management tools that I learned about after diagnosis were things that I was already doing, or tried to do off-and-on but couldn't stick to. The only exception was CBT, which doesn't treat ADHD, although it can help tremendously with some of the comorbid emotional issues.

Being diagnosed didn't make using those other tools any easier than it had been before, and it didn't make them more successful. The medication is what allowed me to focus enough to most effectively use everything else. I hope that I can manage my life well without it some day and I'm working towards that goal, but right now it's an important, appropriate, and effective tool that helps me function like a normal person, more-or-less (but not too normal).

geoblewis
12-30-2011, 07:34 PM
Another fat ADD girl here. I am NOT ADHD. I'm one of those low-energy ADD peeps. Brain keeps going, not the body. I lose concentration on practically everything I do, unless I'm insanely interested in it. Which is why I'm finally losing weight, at age 50.

I'm not on meds, but I do drink a lot of "concentration juice", AKA coffee. It doesn't make me jittery and tense. It helps me to feel focused and I get work done when I drink it. That's how I know I'm ADD. My oldest son and I are going in to see a specialist because he's undiagnosed and not doing anything about it, and he's suffering for it.

I couldn't do anything about it for a long time. Just wasn't in a place where it could be addressed. When I first heard about it and suspected I had that issue as well, people around me who needed to label me as lazy (and other unkind terms) kept me from taking care of myself properly. Eventually I got help for depression (also "my fault", according to the nay-sayers) and started looking for alternative ways to deal with life in general. I'm finally in a place where I can make decisions for myself (and have divorced myself from all the nay-sayers) and things are looking up!

Before discovering how to deal with ADD, I couldn't be on a diet for more that 20 minutes. That is not an exaggeration. I can't seem to do anything for more than 20 minutes at a time, unless I'm keenly interested in the activity. Everything in my life occurs in 20 minute segments. I'm kinda tired of it, so I'm finally going to go in for some medical intervention. If I can remember to call the psychologist to make the appointment.

And I need to call the dentist for an appointment too.
Did I even brush my teeth today?
What day is this anyway?

Friday! I forgot to go to Pilates class!

By the way, for me, what has helped the most were a change of diet and physical activity. It helped that I was becoming a diabetic and I have PCOS, and that I have a soy allergy, because I ended up giving up all processed foods, going out for meals, etc. I stick to as strict a Paleolithic Diet as I can, with lots of greens and other non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and wild-caught or grass-fed/free-range protein sources, all organic. I'm not 100% perfect with the diet, but the closer to perfection I can be, the better I feel. And as for the exercise, my body really responds to Pilates and weight training. I find such peace, joy and focus when I work out like that. It doesn't happen for me with cardio. Not at all! The moment I start walking or doing an aerobic routine, I lose focus and I want to get out of there! Except for dancing. I love dancing so much that I'll stick with that for hours at a time.

Find what you love passionately. That's what you'll stick to.

theox
12-31-2011, 03:42 PM
Hey Georgia, I'm glad you (and your son) are getting help. :carrot::carrot::carrot:

Have you read You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo? I'm reading it right now and so far it seems like a good, helpful book.

geoblewis
12-31-2011, 06:05 PM
Yes, that's in my ADD library, amongst other books. Went through my new therapist's ADD library at her office and mostly stood there and said, "Yep, got that book. And that one. And that one..." I love buying books. It feels like I've single-handedly supported the self-help industry through the last two decades.

I just ordered some ADD vitamins from http://neu-be-calm.com/index.html. I'm going to give them a try, and if they work for me, then my son will try them too, I hope. We are going round and round about his diet. He's not eating healthfully at all. He thinks that because he's gone vegetarian that he's eating well enough, but when I point out all the sugar, fat and salt from the processed foods in his diet, he tells me I'm too health-obsessed. He eats like that when he's away from the house. I don't keep food like that in the house.

When I eat off the ADD diet plan, like I have been over the holiday season, even just a little bit, my concentration falls off and I get into a big emotional funk. And it's hard to get back on track! Tomorrow morning I promised homemade cinnamon rolls, and we're going to make them together. And then about an hour after we eat the last of them, we are making a clean sweep of the house. All the unhealthy holiday food is going in the trash!

And then we're going to shop for vegetables!

theox
12-31-2011, 07:37 PM
That sounds like a good way to start the new year. Diet makes a big difference for me, too. I haven't eaten very well this week at all, but I went grocery shopping today - tomorrow will be a cooking and a get-back-on-track day!

Esofia
01-01-2012, 01:30 PM
I don't have ADHD, but I do have severe ME/CFIDS which causes substantial problems with memory, concentration and so forth. I put on weight mainly because I couldn't remember when I'd last eaten, let alone what I'd eaten, and could go a whole day without eating or eat far too much without having a clue I was doing it. You know, my partner would come home in the evening and ask if I'd eaten, and I'd say I didn't know, that sort of thing.

I find that the key is tracking everything I eat, either before I eat it (preferred) or immediately afterwards. There's no point in trying to do it at the end of the day, I won't have a clue. I need to have a system of tracking which is easy to use, where I can find the food I need in a few seconds. It's taken a bit of work to set up my dieting software with my pet recipes and ingredients that weren't in there, but it's running smoothly now. It also needs to be something I can access immediately. I'm housebound and have the laptop on all day, so I just use that, but other people do very well with smartphones and Blackberries. What have you tried in this respect?

As for medication, a lot of people treat trying out a new med as if it were a lifetime commitment, and worse, a life or death one. This is extremely unlikely to be the case, and I'm speaking as someone who almost always gets bad reactions to meds due to the ME (Depo Provera got me from being able to dance to being in a wheelchair within six months, as a random example). Talk about it with your doctor, find out which side-effects are more likely for you (you don't have a history of addiction, for instance, which is excellent - especially since addiction to pharmaceutical substances is far less likely when they're being used medicinally), and ask them to monitor you carefully. If your doctor won't discuss your concerns, find one who will. We live in a culture which prizes staying off meds as if it endowed us with moral superiority, and it's absolute nonsense. The sensible thing to do is to use meds when they are useful for you, and to do so with proper medical supervision. I know it's hard, especially when it comes to anything affecting mental health, but it really is important to work on this.

theox
01-03-2012, 06:02 PM
That's good advice, Esofia. ME/CFIDS sounds like a very unpleasant condition to have to deal with, although you're obviously finding ways of coping with it.

theox
01-05-2012, 08:04 AM
Saw a couple of articles in an e-newsletter that bindersbee and others might find interesting/helpful, if they haven't already seen them.

My Amazing ADHD Weight-Loss Story (http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1658.html)
How to Battle the Bulge - and Win! (http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/563.html)

I read the first article back when I was still disputing my diagnosis with my doctor, and remembering Ms. Michaels' story helped motivate me to try losing weight again once I'd come to terms with the diagnosis and been on my medication long enough to get used to it and see what a positive difference in made in my ability to function.

IsabellaOlivia
01-13-2012, 07:02 PM
Yes, that's in my ADD library, amongst other books. Went through my new therapist's ADD library at her office and mostly stood there and said, "Yep, got that book. And that one. And that one..." I love buying books. It feels like I've single-handedly supported the self-help industry through the last two decades.

I just ordered some ADD vitamins from http://neu-be-calm.com/index.html. I'm going to give them a try, and if they work for me, then my son will try them too, I hope. We are going round and round about his diet. He's not eating healthfully at all. He thinks that because he's gone vegetarian that he's eating well enough, but when I point out all the sugar, fat and salt from the processed foods in his diet, he tells me I'm too health-obsessed. He eats like that when he's away from the house. I don't keep food like that in the house.

When I eat off the ADD diet plan, like I have been over the holiday season, even just a little bit, my concentration falls off and I get into a big emotional funk. And it's hard to get back on track! Tomorrow morning I promised homemade cinnamon rolls, and we're going to make them together. And then about an hour after we eat the last of them, we are making a clean sweep of the house. All the unhealthy holiday food is going in the trash!

And then we're going to shop for vegetables!
What's the ADD diet? I'm interested to know because I will in the future months be undergoing an evaluation for ADD. I'm 22 and this has just been found out about. I'm interested to learn all I can about ADD.

geoblewis
01-13-2012, 07:23 PM
I just happened to come in the door from our appointment with the psychologist, where she confirmed that both my son and I are ADD Inattentive. She suggested low dose stimulants for us as well as taking a fish oil supplement and cleaning up the diet by not eating refined carbohydrates.

If you do a search on Amazon.com for ADD diet, several books come up. Basically, they suggest making sure to include fatty fish (wild-caught) several times a week, lots of leafy green vegetables, whole grains. Depending on the type of ADD/ADHD you are, further recommendations are made. For my son and me, the refined carbs and sugars had to go because they make us sleepy. We don't have the H to counterbalance the extra sugar.

Best of luck to you Isabella. It's important to get your diagnosis documented. It might lead to help with funding for treatment. My son will now be elligible for scholarships, special counseling and special consideration when applying to larger universities.

aliasihaya
01-13-2012, 07:52 PM
I'm finding this thread extremely interesting. I've never been diagnosed with ADD, but a lot of the symptoms that you're talking about seem to fit with what I go through. Additionally I do suffer from a mood disorder and depression. Those two diagnosis has kind of trumped the doctors to looking for anything else. Well I finally started going to a new psychiatrist who after one visit I think I like. I was completely honest with her and she's now open to reassessing everything about my diagnosis. One thing that she mentioned was putting me on a stimulant. She's the first doctor to ever suggest it. My health is also pretty bad and motivation is extremely difficult for me. My mind can run a mile a minute yet my body won't move at all. She said that she's had really good luck using it as a supplement to depression medication. Sometimes all you need is a boost to get moving. She feels that if I can just get moving then I can make the life changes to become healthier so that one day I won't need the drugs.

I'm really looking forward to it. I'm really hoping that it will be the boost that I need. I'm not looking for a wonder drug. I just need help concentrating and focusing and motivation and I'm tired of being tired. Unfortunately she hasn't prescribed it yet. She wanted me to get an EKG and talk to my PCP about it. I think it's great that she's making sure that I'm fit enough for it. But it's been an excruciating two weeks waiting to see if she will prescribe it. I meet with her next Wednesday and it can't come soon enough. I've never been so eager to see a doctor. I've tried so many medications and nothing has ever helped. If I've really been suffering also from ADD as well and it was undiagnosed then maybe this will be the final piece to the puzzle.

But I want to stress that I'm still changing my eating habits and exercising more. I know the importance of getting the tools outside of drugs to help with my issues. But if I can just find something to get me over the hump then it would make a world of difference.

Good luck with your journey!