ADHD and Forgetting to Eat

The Impact of Skipping Meals on ADHD Symptoms and How to Overcome It

When you have ADHD, your relationship with food may be affected. At times, you might skip meals; at other times, you might overeat. Learn more about ADHD & Forgetting to Eat here. 

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The Reasons Why People with ADHD tend to Forget Eating

Some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have difficulties managing their food intake 🍲. Among the adult ADHD population, there are serious problems related to appetite and eating. As eating disorders can be prevalent in some people with ADHD, it is critical to be aware of this comorbidity to be able to take the necessary precautions.

What's with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and disordered eating? According to some studies, our impulse control can directly affect our appetite. Other reports say dopamine has a significant control over our appetite. 

It's common for people with ADHD to forget to eat

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us focus. When we have ADHD, our brain doesn't produce enough dopamine. So we tend to look for things that can give us a dopamine hit. This can be in the form of food, drugs, or anything that can make us feel good. But sometimes, when we get dopamine from sources other than food, we might disregard our hunger signals and continue doing what we're doing. So, how does ADHD affect our eating schedule and make us skip meals🤔?

ADHD Symptoms That Make You Forget Eating

Though neurotypical people also tend to experience a weird relationship with food and their meal schedule 📅, most individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder can have more struggles and difficulties managing their meal schedule. They sometimes have a high chance of ignoring hunger signals over some activities that they think are more important.

A few weeks back, I was busy dealing with another project for The Mini ADHD Coach. I was too invested in doing the tasks that I neglected following  my meal schedule. But, the real problem wasn't about how busy I was. If I had managed my tasks the moment they were assigned to me, I wouldn't have had trouble following through my mealtimes and I wouldn't be overeating to compensate 😦.

There are plenty of reasons why we tend to forget eating

Here are some of the instances that make us forget our diet routines:


For those who haven't come across the term hyperfocus yet, it is a state of attention where a person can focus on specific activity for an extended period. And during this state, we often disregard our other needs, like eating and drinking 🥤. This occurs because once we are hyperfocused, our brain can concentrate so intensely on something. 

We tend to forget eating because of hyperfocus

ADHD experts agree that hyperfocus can be a double-edged sword that can either be helpful or destructive to our time management skills. It's good if we spend our time being productive on things that we should be doing, but what if we tend to spend time watching Facebook Reels or trivial Youtube documentaries📱? It might not be so good.

It can also be destructive when we disregard our own needs because we are in our most focused state. This is because once we are disturbed and knocked out of our tiny bubble 💭, it can be challenging for us to gain that momentum once again. So, instead of eating on time or satisfying our appetite, we often choose to skip meals and continue what we are immersed in doing.

Inability to Perceive the Correct Time

An ADHD struggle that most of us experience is time blindness and it can be one of the reasons why we often forget to eat on time⌚. This occurs when we cannot accurately gauge how much time has passed. So, if we are engrossed in a task and someone tells us to eat already, we'll most likely think it may be too early or too late to take some food to eat.

When Time Awareness isn't common for us

ADHD affects our executive function, so our time awareness is often inaccurate. When we aren't mindful of the time, we can't accurately tell when we last ate or how much time has passed since we started doing a specific task. This often leads to us skipping meals. Some adults that experience this time blindness might have lunch at around four o'clock in the afternoon 🕓- way too late!

Eating at different hours can have a direct effect on our bodies. Sometimes, when we realize that we haven't eaten our breakfast or dinner today, our brain will send signals to our bodies that we need to look for food now. This can be why some people with ADHD overeat or binge eat. Their bodies are craving food because they haven't had a decent meal in hours 😋.

Struggles with Organization

Most people with ADHD who struggle with time blindness often have difficulty managing their schedules 📆, tend to squeeze in different activities in a short period, and sacrifice their mealtime because of overworking. When we get too overwhelmed with these activities, getting a decent amount of energy from our food intake might be impossible.

We skip meals due to organization struggles

Lucky for those that can still eat despite having lots of work to do, but some people will be hungry for the entire work schedule and then eat a hefty amount of food afterward. Plus, they might put on weight from stress. They tend to eat to feel good and not really to satisfy hunger.

Meal planning 📝 can be an excellent solution for all our struggles and to prevent eating disorders from developing. However, when we are experiencing too much of everything, spending time eating may already be a luxury for us. Instead, we accomplish everything first, and when we're done, we eat. This can often be the case for those people with ADHD that are in a creative field or have a very demanding job.

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The Effects of ADHD Meds on our Appetite

Some people may experience something strange when they have been prescribed ADHD medication💊. They may have a sudden change in appetite or be unable to control their eating habits. It can be because of the different chemicals in our brains and the reaction it produces with our medications.

One of the potential effects of taking medication to manage our ADHD symptoms is to make us fall asleep or relax us  🥱 whenever we take it. This sudden change in energy levels can affect how our bodies function and often disrupts our eating habits. Instead of spending our time on meaningful activities, it can make us sleep and not be able to do anything else. However, when the medication wears off, our disordered eating often follows.

Sometimes, ADHD Medicines can also affect our eating habit

The possibility of binge eating after the effects of ADHD medication wears off is also there. After all, a common side effect of ADHD medicine is loss of appetite. After that effect wears off, we might compromise and overeat. 

When adults with ADHD take prescription medications to address their symptoms, it can often make them feel more energetic ⚡. This is why we feel the sudden urge to do different things, and our minds are racing with so many thoughts. We may become more impulsive and can't control what we do or how we act in certain situations.

Remember that the medication for ADHD depends on a person's diagnosis and your mental health professional's 👩‍⚕️  treatment plan for you. It cannot be the same for everyone.

Why Do We Need to Eat on the Correct Schedule?

Repeated failures to eat on time can cause repercussions not only to our bodies but also our mental state. It can be evident that when we frequently miss eating at the right time, our health can be compromised, increasing our risk for a particular sickness. These diseases can be prevented if we are just mindful of our eating habits and make sure that we have a healthy meal intake three times a day👌.

The risk of obesity or simply being overweight can also be a thing for us. Since some of us cannot exercise as it can be a struggle in itself, we don't burn the calories gained through overeating. It can be a vicious cycle for us: we might feel more stressed about our appearance, leading to more emotional eating🥺.

Aside from the physical dangers of not having a regular eating schedule, emotional and mental risks likewise come with it. It can make us more prone to anxiety and depression, as well as other disorders. Our tendency to skip eating might make us feel dizzy, lightheaded, and exhausted 😩. It can also worsen our ADHD symptoms as we become more irritable and unable to focus on anything.

The Things We Need to Do to Address this Problem

The first thing we need to do is to be honest with ourselves. We need to admit that we have a problem with our eating habits and that it is disrupting our daily lives. Once we have done that, we can start looking for ways to change our eating habits and establish a healthy relationship with food.

Here are some of the tips and ways to prevent unhealthy eating habits:

  • Learn more about work and life balance ⚖️. The key to a regular routine can be having a sense of balance and control. It can be challenging to do this when we live with ADHD, but it is not impossible. It would help if you were patient in learning how to manage your time and energy levels to focus on the more important things.
  • Learn to eat healthy and substantial foods 🥗 Yes, it can be hard to do this when we're always on the go, but we must take the time to eat three times a day at the right time. It will help boost our energy and concentration levels to be productive throughout the day.
  • Set up alarms and reminders⏰. Have plenty of notices reminding you to eat your food and stop working. This can help you become more mindful of your eating habits and avoid binge eating. You'll be forced to stop and eat when you realize that there are plenty of alarms reminding you to eat.
  • Have convenient food packs 🥪. As some people with ADHD may always be on the go and have inadequate time to prepare a complete course, you can prepare a simple sandwich or a grab-and-go salad. This will help you get the nutrients you need without spending too much time in the kitchen. Just make sure that your food pack is healthy and not highly processed!
  • Talk to your health professional👩‍⚕️ . When things are getting more severe, and we tend to get affected by other eating disorders, it is best to talk to our psychiatrist or therapist. They can help us understand our condition more and give us an effective treatment that is suitable for us.
Tips for eating on time

An ADHD diagnosis can affect how we live our daily lives. When things are going south because of our Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we have to do something about it. Activities such as eating should not be compromised as it is a requirement to be healthy, a basic need. We must be more mindful of what we do and be patient with ourselves as we learn to manage our ADHD symptoms. That said, let us all be more conscious of what we eat and when we eat so we can avoid unhealthy eating habits ❤️.

ADHD and Forgetting to Eat: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD have food issues?

Not all people with ADHD have food issues, but the tendency to have at least one is there because of the ADHD symptoms.

How does ADHD affect eating habits?

Symptoms like getting easily distracted, being in a hyper focused state, and forgetting schedules can contribute to unhealthy eating habits. These symptoms are also highly common in many people with ADHD. ADHD medicines can also be a contributing factor.

How can you improve your relationship with food when you have ADHD?

The most important step is to get assessment and treatment from a mental health professional. That way, you can both address your symptoms and reduce the possibility of unhealthy eating habits.

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