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ADHD Nutrition and Weight Loss/Gain

binge eating

I am taking Adderall which unfortunately decreases my appetite, but I also take Abilify which increases it. My doctor hoped it would even out but it did not: Now when I eat, its too much and sometimes I skip lunch and stuff myself at night. How can this problem be addressed? Who else has their appetite affected by Adderall?

Replies

I don’t know how familiar you are with eating disorders, food addiction, and other addictions, but ADD/ADHD has been known to be a hidden disorder masked by addictions, where people turn to addictions to manage in areas of difficulty. It also is a breeding ground for addictions, as people with these disorders are easily distracted, get bored easily, need much stimulation, don’t do routines well, etc.  Addictions can manifest themselves in many ways. If you have a propensity for it, you may have more difficulty controlling it, when the use of a drug stimulates you as well, or you could always have had the tendency and its been waiting to rear it’s ugly head.  Many people that have difficulty with alcohol and drugs cannot take adderall because of it’s addictive tendency.Many doctors and counselors are not schooled in addiction counseling and don’t recognize it, so they will not look at it from that perspective.  If you do have addictive tendencies, using drugs to counteract, counterbalance, and get help is okay but needs to be closely monitored if you have that propensity. I have to ask myself why I choose the route of taking a drug, when changed behavior, therapy, or another method could be used.  None of this may apply. All I am saying is that I have been in Recovery for almost 30 years and have met numerous addicts that have ADD/ADHD. Some are aware they have it; many are not or choose not to deal with it. For me, I recognized my addictions before I recognized my ADD. For others, it has worked the other way around. If you find any of this helpful, take what you want and leave the rest. I’m just sayin’ JGM

Posted by graceeeee on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:23pm

Adderall does decrease my appetite to some degree. For me the problem is mostly that this can cause my glucose to drop making me shaky and brain fog rolls in despite the Adderall.
The solution for me is to be sure to eat a decent breakfast before taking my first dose and having highly nutritious snacks when I take my late morning and early afternoon dose. By evening its usually worn off enough to eat the size meal I want. I use IR as needed as my schedule has odd times and days when I need the most focus.
The snacks are things like nuts, homemade nut butter, homemade breads or muffins with some cheese, something with a balance of protein, good fats and slow release carbs. A handful of nuts, big spoon of nut butter, perhaps some fruit with either, bread/roll with cheese and that keeps my brain and body fueled.
Things like protein bars can also do the trick but they are expensive and don’t hold me as well as ‘real food’. Even though making the stuff myself doesn’t take that long, I’ve been doing it for decades. Learning to do it for many with busy schedules can be a problem.
But things like cheese and a good cracker like rye crisp are easy to take along. the nuts, there are some decent nut butters, I prefer almond butter to peanut butter. dried fruit like raisins, apricots, figs, plus some protein, maybe milk, hard boiled egg, jerky, enough to keep blood sugar stable.
Try small servings on a break and lunch, a few nuts if you use the restroom, sneak in some good food all day. Perhaps try this on a day off without the abilify to see if you can get the food down and not binge later.
Is it more that you forget to eat or that eating actually sounds bad? I usually don’t think about eating when on Adderall until glucose drops and then grumble at myself. But at times the thought of eating is a gag out, then I don’t force myself.
what happens in the evening if you don’t take the abilify? still not eating? can you take your last dose earlier?

Posted by Gadfly on Jul 01, 2014 at 12:57am

Hi DAB130!

I realize you are not looking to lose weight, but this article on ADDitudeMag.com has some helpful tips on stopping impulsive and compulsive eating: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/7306.html. The idea of scheduling your food intake may help you to at least snack on some protein during the day when you are not hungry, and only eat at a specified time in the evening when your appetite returns.

Increased appetite and weight gain is a common side effect of Abilify. Talk to your prescribing doctor about what you are experiencing to see if a modification to your medication regimen might help.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 01, 2014 at 4:20pm

Thank you all for the advice. Graceeeee, my ADHD came first, then the addiction part which is probably to carbs but not sugar directly. I unfortunately smoke tobacco pipes too and cannot seem to stop it unless I get medical help. Cold Turkey is not an option for me personally. That is why smaller portion sizes like 4 or 5 small meals (Gadfly) is a good idea to cut back on snack foods cause I’ll be more likely to eat the healthy foods first before junk foods.
    Finally, Penny I really appreciate the article and am impressed with all that you do. I am 33 now and have lived with ADHD since age 7 and major Depression for at least ten years or more. Plus I have Asperger’s syndrome which is completely different but doesn’t help the other matters at all either. I also have your website on my favorite lists. Maybe I can help you too now.

Posted by DAB130 on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:09pm

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The opinions expressed on ADDConnect are solely those of the user, who may or may not have medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of ADDConnect or ADDitude magazine. For more information, see our terms and conditions.