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Executive Functioning Skills for Nutrition and Food Planning: Nutrition and ADHD

Meal planning can be a challenge for people who have difficulties with executive functioning, including people with ADHD. Executive function is a set of mental skills that help people plan, focus, remember, and organize. These mental skills help people take actions in order to achieve goals. Making decisions, staying focused, and following through on tasks can be hard for people with challenges in executive functioning. This can make meal planning a daunting task. Executive functioning skills for nutrition can be learned! Take a look here for some ideas that may work for you.

women writing in a notebook

Meal Planning Strategies: Executive Functioning Skills for Good Nutrition

  • Simplify your meals. The simpler your meals are, the easier they will be to plan and prepare. Choose dishes that have few ingredients and steps.

  • Plan ahead. Try to plan your meals for the week in advance. This will help you to stay on track and avoid the challenges of making last-minute decisions.

  • Use a meal planner. There are many different meal planning tools available, both online and in print. A planner can help you to keep track of your recipes, ingredients, and grocery shopping lists.

  • Delegate tasks. If you have family members who are willing to help, delegate some of the meal tasks to them. This includes grocery shopping, cooking, and washing dishes.

  • Ask for help. If you are struggling with meal planning, don't be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or professional. There are many resources available to help you.

Practical and Specific Meal Ideas for Help with Executive Functioning

  • Have the same structure for dinner every week. A sample meal structure plan can look like this: Sunday is pizza, Monday is chicken, Tuesday is fish, Wednesday is pasta, Thursday is ground beef, Friday is vegetarian, and Saturday is beef.

  • Choose simple recipes. Dishes made with two ingredients involve way less prep time and planning. Some people will make chicken, beef, or fish topped with a store-bought seasoning mix or jarred marinade.

  • Make partially prepared foods a part of your meal routine. Preparing meals does not have to be all from scratch. It can be very convenient to stock up on frozen vegetables or instant/quick-cook grain mixes to use as sides.

  • Prepare breakfast the night before. Because it is already prepared when the busy morning comes, you can easily grab it on your way out. Add the ingredients for overnight oats to a container. Spoon yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit into a container. Put a spoon on top and place in the fridge at night to have one less thing to prepare in the morning.

  • Be open to creative and unusual solutions. You don't need to eat "breakfast foods" for breakfast or "dinner foods" for dinner. Do what works for you. For example, scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast can be dinner or leftover chicken and rice can be a filling breakfast.

Bottom Line for Good Nutrition with Executive Functioning Challenges

Remember that perfection is not necessary! Your food does not need to be picture perfect or appeal to anyone but you. Short cuts can be efficient strategies, and thinking out of the box can help you come up with ideas that work for yourself and your family. Your executive functioning skills for nutrition and food preparation can improve over time.

Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you. Try to be open to some ideas that at first glance seem too different for you. It does take effort, but people with executive functioning issues can successfully plan and prepare meals.

For more specific nutrition recommendations and food preparation tips, reach out to me for a nutrition appointment. If you have ADHD or other executive functioning challenges, you can also improve how you eat.

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1 Comment

Jul 24, 2023

I love these tips, Brendel! Thank you!! -Y


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