“I Need A Pill To Learn” What Messages Are We Sending Our Kids.

Well, while I was hoping to witness a sea of “healthy lunch choices” at my 7-year-old’s school lunch yesterday, my expectations soon fizzled.

I had joined Ava unexpectedly at lunch, which was super fun. I was greeted by hugs, hellos, and smiling faces at a table of 7-year-olds. I am so happy I can do that sometimes. Serious “Mommy moments that I love”.

However, now as the “Doctor Mommy” – I needed a bit of shock treatment as I looked out at the array of food items on the table. And that wouldn’t be my only shock of the day.

In front of me were corn dogs, beans, grits and cheese, chocolate pudding and milk. One child’s dad had even brought blue cupcakes with sugary spider gummies, to celebrate his child’s birthday – I know, Cool! Right? (Poor teacher getting them after lunch with their sugar highs!).

Yes, an awesome but disposable plate. What I didn’t see was anything green.

So weird Doctor Mommy pulls out her seaweed snack. Ava and some of the girls tried it and enjoyed it.

Then the little chap sitting next to us shares with me:

Boy: “I have to go take my pills”
Me: What do you need them for?
Boy: “So I can learn.”
And the boy next to him, “I take pills too!”
Me: What do you take them for?
Boy #2: “To be controlled.”
And a girl next to us.
Girl: “Me too, to not be hyper.”

Ok, so 3 out of 6 kids at Ava’s table “take pills”, i.e. ADHD meds to Learn, be controlled, and behave!

We are sending the wrong messages!

Currently, according to the CDC, over 6.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The rate is increasing by over 5% per year. The Southeast has higher prevalence rates for ADHD (as well as for obesity).

Today, unfortunately, the standard of care for ADHD is daily medication. The graphic represents the percentage of each state’s children taking ADHD medication (2011-2012, CDC).

I understand that having a child with ADHD can be a state of desperation. I know this all too well personally, as I was faced with this when my oldest was only 6 years old in first grade. We tried medications out of desperation, but the personality change and subdued nature shocked me.

We stopped the meds within 2 weeks, and I dug into alternatives such as using the right foods as medicine. I also began my journey into functional and restorative medicine. This was 14 years ago. She went on to win science fairs and enter national math competitions… without ADD meds.

We know diet affects attention and behavior, unquestionably. Now, what can be done?

#1 Must eat breakfast – i.e. A breakfast with healthy low-glycemic foods! See this blog with kid and parent friendly recipes for breakfast and lunch by my friend, affectionately known as Wellness Mama http://wellnessmama.com/2124/breakfast-lunch-ideas/

#2 Avoid:

Sugar and sugar substitutes

Artificial food coloring, especially red dye. Valentines can be heck for parents!

Gluten and grains – For more information, check out GrainBrain by David Perlmutter, M.D.

Cow’s milk – The hormones and antibiotics in milk provide little benefit and can increase ear and respiratory infections.

#3 Probiotics – Research through the Microbiome Project over the past few years concludes that eating foods rich in probiotics positively influences brain behavior and can decrease anxiety and depression as well. Add fermented foods like pickled cabbage, beets, kimchi, and kombucha. (Supplement with Probiomax or chewables for kids)

#4 Increase foods rich in DHA (Omega 3 fatty acids)

Yeah oysters!

Fish and other seafood. Especially salmon and sardines.

Organic eggs


Note: If supplementing with DHA and/or Omega 3’s (ex: Pura Omega 900), it must be very high quality. Fish oils can be a source of heavy metal contamination and turn rancid. This is why I am particular about the supplements that I offer.

A note of encouragement to the overwhelmed.

Small changes can make a big difference over time.

We want kids to: 
Be in Control.
And, be at peace within their body.


By using medication, we’re sending the wrong message at an early age.

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Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna Cabeca

Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging and Integrative Medicine expert and founder of The Girlfriend Doctor. During Dr. Anna’s health journey, she turned to research to create products to help thousands of women through menopause, hormones, and sexual health. She is the author of best-selling The Hormone Fix, and Keto-Green 16 and MenuPause.

Learn more about my scientific advisory board.