During the first 25 years of my life, I navigated the challenges of undiagnosed conditions that greatly affected my well-being. From battling burnout and constant fatigue to grappling with food sensitivities, emotional roller coasters, and relentless hyperfixations, I faced a multitude of obstacles. In addition, my self-esteem suffered as I constantly felt like everything was harder for me compared to others. I received countless messages from those around me, insisting that I wasn’t doing things the right way, no matter how hard I tried.
In 2022, (like many others) I fell down the rabbit hole of TikTok and began resonating with a lot of videos of people talking about their ADHD symptoms. At first, I approached it jokingly and didn’t take it too seriously. One day I started making a list of every symptom that I had, realised that it was pages worth of notes, and decided to go down the clinical diagnosis pathway. After this self-discovery came the ASD symptom list, which at first, again, I was sceptical. I knew how similar symptoms of ADHD and ASD can be (they often overlap) and found it a bit harder to self-diagnose.
In 2023 I was diagnosed with ADHD and ASD by multiple professionals. Finally, I felt validated in my own human experience, and went through a period of grief for the struggle I had been going through all this time. After this I had to explain to loved ones and friends my new diagnosis, and they were all completely accepting, stating that it didn’t change who I was, and that if anything, it made me who I was.
Both my ADHD and ASD impact my nutrition and eating habits. With ADHD I often forget to eat during the day and overeat in the afternoon/night. My executive dysfunction makes it hard to be motivated to cook, clean, and prioritise fruits and vegetables, and I often end up reaching for high energy, sugary/salty foods, or takeaway.
I used to rely solely on caffeine to function (and I legitimately mean to function), before starting meds.
My stimulant medication causes me to lose my appetite during the day, as well as increases my focus which can make me want to smash out all my tasks for the day (which again can cause me to forget to eat). It also causes a dry mouth which leads to me drinking heaps of water during the day.
My ASD causes me to be a picky eater due to my food sensitivities. It is also common for me to have the same dinner for months on end (another type of hyperfixation) without getting sick of it, because I know I like it and it reduces my decision fatigue. I have always struggled with fruits and vegetables as the taste and texture can differ so much. I usually have safe meals that I order at a variety of takeaway/dining out options that I know I will like. It takes me many times of exposure to willingly add a new food into my common diet.
With a bachelor’s degree in health sciences nutrition and a master in dietetics, I have used my knowledge to manage and improve all of the issues I struggle with listed above. I eat a well-balanced diet and make accommodations for the things I cannot change. I promote working with your neurodivergence, rather than against it.
I hope to share all of my neurodivergent nutrition strategies with as many people as possible.