13 Best Snacks for ADHD and Picky Eating

by | Apr 23, 2024

This post may contain affiliate links.  This article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not/should not be used for medical advice.  If you’re concerned about your child’s mental, emotional, or physical health, always speak with your child’s health care team.

ADHD makes focusing on the simplest of tasks challenging and mealtimes are no exception.  Throw in picky eating and it might feel like a battle every time you offer your child anything to eat. 

One way to help support children with ADHD and picky eating is by leveraging snacks.  

I’m not talking about tossing your kids a lonely granola bar every other hour, but instead using snack time as a mini meal to offer a wide variety of nutrients at a time kids seem to really enjoy; snack time!

This post will discuss why you should leverage snack time for your child with ADHD and picky eating, as well as easy snack combinations that will support their neurodivergent growing brains.

To learn more about the different types of ADHD, causes, diagnosis and treatment options, and beneficial nutrients, read more here

For more information on the correlation between ADHD and picky eating and helpful strategies read more here.

Why You Should Leverage Snack time 

There are many reasons why you should leverage snack time for your child with ADHD and picky eating.  

The main reason being that they may have a hard time focusing or sitting still at traditional meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner which tend to take longer.

Snack time tends to be a little quicker with less overwhelming portions of food, making snack time less visually overstimulating for kids with ADHD and picky eating. 

Another reason to leverage snack time is because of the obvious – kids love snacks!

When most people think of snacks, they think of processed packaged foods like crackers, chips, and cookies.

Sure these can be included, but instead, change your mindset around snacks and view them as a mini meal that incorporates multiple food groups – typically two to four if you can!

By switching your perspective and mindset around how and when you feed your neurodivergent child, you can really set them up for success and minimize mealtime battles. 

Healthy Snacks for ADHD and Picky Eating

When deciding what snacks to offer your child with ADHD and picky eating, keep these two simple things in mind:

Minimum of 2 food groups – food groups include protein, fruit, vegetable, grains, and dairy

Prioritize protein, fat, and fiber – to keep them fuller longer

Many times kids tend to gravitate towards the carbohydrate-rich snack foods, but eating those alone can leave them running out of energy and possibly lead to dysregulation quicker.

If you can pair their carbohydrate-rich favorite snack foods with protein, fat, and fiber, it will help keep them fuller longer and provide them with more energy over time, versus using up all the carbohydrates right away.  

Here’s a few ideas of healthy, balanced snacks that will provide your child with ADHD and picky eating with valuable nutrients to support their neurodivergent brain while keeping them fuller longer. 

Best Snacks for ADHD and Picky Eating

When it comes to the best snacks for ADHD and picky eating, you ultimately want to try to find nutrient dense options that your child enjoys, while incorporating new foods in a engaging and low pressure way. 

If your child has a hard time trying new foods, join my free 5 week picky eater TRY IT challenge to learn how to best support them using evidence-based strategies. 


Healthy snacks for ADHD

I know I said to offer at least two food groups, but I’m good with edamame by itself.  However, you’re certainly welcome to offer something in addition, such as their favorite cracker or granola bar. 

Edamame is an immature soybean that’s considered a legume.  

It’s unique in the fact that it’s both a protein and vegetable at the same time.  It provides a complete form of protein which is uncommon for plants.  This shelled legume also offers up fiber, iron, and magnesium – beneficial nutrients for ADHD and picky eating.

You can find edamame in the freezer section shelled or unshelled.

Edamame is a great option to offer as a snack or side with meals because it not only provides great nutrition, but it almost acts as a fidget toy when offered in its shelled version. 

If your kids enjoy Bluey like mine do, watch episode 17 of season 3 – Pavlova – and they’ll instantly want to try Edamame, or as Bluey and Bingo say it: “Edanane” 

Serving suggestion: 

steam frozen edamame in the microwave, pour into a bowl and add soy sauce, salt, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.  

When offering the shelled version of edamame, try providing your child with children’s chopsticks to make it more engaging!

If your kids enjoy edamame, try adding it to soups, stir frys, and salads. 

Edamame is often found on many appetizer menus at restaurants, providing a healthy option to order when eating out. 


Smoothies for ADHD

Smoothies are a great way to pack a ton of nutrients into one beverage.  They don’t require any chewing and can easily be consumed while your child stands and wiggles around – perfect for kids with ADHD and picky eating habits.

When making a smoothie aim for a protein or fat with a fruit or vegetable.

Protein/fat: plain Greek yogurt (full fat if possible), milk of choice, nut butters

Fruit/vegetables: berries, bananas, avocado, pineapple, mango, spinach, cauliflower

Feel free to use fresh, frozen, or canned fruit

Additional smoothie add ins: chia seeds, ground flaxseed, hemp hearts

Try this Pineapple Spinach Smoothie!

Nut butter and Apple Slices

healthy snacks for adhd and picky eating

Nut butter, such as peanut butter contains fat, protein, fiber, magnesium, and even some iron, making a great, nutrient dense addition to your child’s snack.

You can also use any nut or seed butter your family prefers.

Serving suggestion: 

Use a crinkle cutter to slice apples with a fun wave to them.  You can even cut them into little sticks that look like crinkle cut fries.  Better yet, let your child cut their own apple slices with a crinkle cutter or kid-friendly knife

Try serving up apple nachos with apple slices as your “chips” and drizzle melted peanut butter over the apple slices with crushed walnuts and mini chocolate chips as the toppings. 

If your kids enjoy nut butter and apple slices, try adding celery sticks for another crunchy option.

Hummus and Whole Grain Crackers

best snacks for adhd and picky eating

Hummus is made from blending chickpeas, olive oil, and other herbs and spices and it’s a great way to enjoy plant-based protein with fiber.

Adding whole grain crackers will satisfy your child’s crunchy snack fix, but still give them some fiber to keep them fuller longer.

Whole grain crackers:

Serving suggestion: 

Make a hummus snack tray and spread hummus on a plate or tray and offer dippable snack foods around the hummus, such as whole grain crackers, veggies, pita bread, etc. 

Greek Yogurt and Raspberries

best snacks for adhd and picky eaters

Greek yogurt is a great snack option for kids with ADHD and picky eating because it’s higher in protein than regular yogurt, keeping them fuller longer.  

Selecting a plain Greek yogurt will help minimize added sugar, however not everyone enjoys plain yogurt – especially kids.  Feel free to look for a flavored option your family enjoys or add honey and fruit for more sweetness.

Adding fresh, frozen, or even freeze dried berries like raspberries can help add more fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals.

Serving suggestion: 

Ask your child to put raspberries on their fingers and dip it in the yogurt.

You can also add sprinkles to their yogurt for a touch of novelty to help them dig in.  Try these dye free sprinkles.

Or for a nutritional boost, try adding Tinysprouts hemp hearts or milled flaxseed. 

Nuts and Freeze Dried Fruit

healthy snacks for on the go

Nuts are a nutrient-dense snack that’s easy to take with you on the go and packs roughly 100 calories in just ¼ cup. 

While each variety of nut will provide its own unique nutrients, in general nuts provide protein, fat, fiber, and iron.  Walnuts are a great option that are high in Omega-3 fats which are great for brain health!

Add freeze dried fruit for another crunchy option that’s easy to take on the go for more fiber and natural sweetness. 

We love the freeze dried strawberry individual packs from Target.

Dino Bar and Pretzels

snacks for picky eaters

Dino bars are one of my favorite snack bars for kids.  They’re an organic fruit bar wrapped in edible paper!  These would be great for kids who don’t like to get sticky.  

They’re made with fruit, hemp hearts, oats, and coconut oil giving them a good balance of fat, fiber, and protein, without any refined sugar. Use familynutritionist10 for 10% off your first order.

Pair these with a crunchy snack like pretzels.  Surprisingly pretzels contain 3 grams of protein per serving.

Serving suggestion: 

Try cutting up the Dino Bars into bite size pieces.

Offer a variety of different kinds of pretzels from pretzel sticks, to mini twists on a fun bendy straw (pictured), or even pretzel thins as a fun dippable option!

Black Bean Brownie Bites

Black bean brownies

These black bean brownie bites are one of my daughter’s favorite tasty snacks. They’re packed with protein, fiber, and fat from the black beans, nut butter, egg, and oats, plus have way less sugar than a traditional brownie.

These are also a great option for picky eater who don’t like beans (yet).

In addition to having beans (a protein and a vegetable), this recipe also has fruit in it too (banana).

Make your own black bean brownies with your kids using this recipe!

Hard Boiled Eggs and Blueberries

healthy adhd snacks

Hard boiled eggs are a compact source or protein that also provides many valuable nutrients including B vitamins and choline – a nutrient supporting brain health that most people don’t get enough of. 

I’m always a fan of adding a fruit or veggie to snacks, since most Americans (90%) don’t get enough.  Adding fresh blueberries is an excellent addition to a hard boiled egg. 

Serving suggestion: 

Try offering the blueberries on a skewer to add a touch of novelty that’s irresistible.  

If your child enjoys salty foods, let them sprinkle a little salt or everything seasoning onto their hard boiled egg.  

Carrot sticks and Guacamole

nutrient dense snacks for adhd

I always say: “a veggie with dip is better than no veggie at all.”

Carrots are great with good ole Ranch dressing, but try adding more fiber and fat with guacamole or mashed avocado as a dip. 

If you need a carbohydrate-rich snack to pull them into this combo, feel free to offer their favorite cracker or pretzel in addition to the carrots. 

Serving suggestion: 

Try offering different types of fresh carrots; carrot sticks, baby carrots, rainbow carrots, carrot chips, crinkle cut carrots, etc.

That’s It Bar and Pumpkin Seeds

quick healthy snacks for adhd

If your kids aren’t huge fans of fresh fruit, try a That’s It bar.  Literally the only ingredients are fruit – THATS IT!

Pair it with some pumpkin seeds to much on for fat, fiber, protein, and some magnesium and you have a balanced snack that supports their neurodivergent brains at home or on the go!

Popcorn and Dark Chocolate Covered Fruit

healthy snacks

Believe it or not, popcorn is a great whole grain snack option.  Opt for air popped or llightly salted, but if your child is like my daughter and loves the white cheddar version, go for it. 

Popcorn is very high in fiber and also offers a wide variety of valuable vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. 

I’m a fan of including your favorite sweet treats into your snacks and meals so they feel less desired when they are available.  

That’s why I’m recommending dark chocolate covered fruit in this snack combination.  The salty sweet pairing is the perfect movie night snack that still provides important nutrients for your child. 

We love these chocolate covered fruit options:

Low Sugar Whole Grain Cereal and Milk

ADHD and picky eating snacks

Cereal often gets a bad rap for having “too much sugar” and processed ingredients, but I think it’s highly underestimated.  

Cereal is fortified with many valuable micronutrients that many of us fall short on including iron, Vitamin D, and potassium.  And depending on the variety can also provide fiber and protein too!

While it’s important to limit added sugars, it can be hard to find a tasty cereal without at least some.  Check out my free cereal guide for some of my favorite no to low added sugar cereals. 

Pair a bowl of cereal with your milk and you’ve added even more protein and fat to keep them fuller longer.

If your child has a poor appetite due to ADHD medication, try opting for whole milk for more calories. 

Cereal is also a great option for on the go too!

Mealtime Considerations 

Children with ADHD often have a hard time sitting still at meals.  However there are many things you can do to help them funnel that energy so they can focus on fueling their body when it’s time to eat. 

You can try letting your child stand, providing them with a foot band for their feet to play with, or a wobble seat to help them wiggle in their seat.

Another option is to provide them with novelty utensils, plates, and other kitchen gadgets to make mealtimes more fun and engaging. 

How to Make Mealtimes Engaging for Kids with ADHD

Novelty Kitchen Tools

Fidget Toys for ADHD

fidget toys for ADHD

Meal planning for ADHD

For parents of children with ADHD, it can be helpful to plan out the menu with your child so they know what to expect and they can be included in what’s available.  

Grab the Ultimate Meal Planning Toolkit for Families to help organize and plan out your meals for the week or month!


ADHD makes focusing on the simplest of tasks challenging and mealtimes are no exception.  Throw in picky eating and it might feel like a battle every time you offer your child anything to eat.

Snack time tends to be a little quicker with less overwhelming portions of food, making snack time less visually overstimulating for kids with ADHD and picky eating. 

Balanced snack options for kids with ADHD and picking eating include:

  • Edamame
  • Smoothies
  • Apple slices and nut butter
  • Hummus and whole grain crackers
  • Greek yogurt and raspberries
  • Nuts and freeze dried fruit
  • Dino Bar and pretzels
  • Hard boiled egg and blueberries
  • Carrots and guacamole
  • That’s It bar and pumpkin seeds
  • Popcorn and chocolate covered fruit
  • Low sugar, whole grain cereal with milk

Children with ADHD often have a hard time sitting still at meals.  However there are many things you can do to help them funnel that energy so they can focus on fueling their body when it’s time to eat. 

For parents of children with ADHD, it can be helpful to plan out the menu with your child so they know what to expect and they can be included in what’s available.  

As always, speak to your child’s health care provider regarding any diagnoses, treatments, supplementation or questions regarding their health and wellness.  This information is not to be used for medical purposes.


This article written by Alexandra Turnbull provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. You are encouraged to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and medical treatment and what may be best for you or your child’s overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by Alexandra Turnbull of that product, service, or expert advice.

Hi! I'm Alex Turnbull. I'm a registered dietitian specializing in introducing solids and picky eating. Most importantly, I'm a mom of two so I get how stressful feeding kids can be.

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