Ice Cream at Midnight

Most people have their secret cravings. But we who have ADHD specialize in one kind of craving. We crave carbs.
It’s the pint, quart, or even gallon of Cherry Garcia or Mocha Nut Fudge ice cream in the middle of the night as a “snack”. It’s the jar of Skippy’s Smooth or Peter Pan Crunchy peanut butter that always seems to be one knife stroke short of empty, no matter how many jars we buy. It’s the jumbo bag of M&M Peanut that we refuse to share when we go to the movies (those days will return. . .). It’s the extra spoonful of gravy we slip onto our mashed potatoes after topping them with more than an average serving of butter. It’s the beer we love. It’s the sugar we add not in teaspoonfuls but in tablespoonfuls (if we bother to measure) to our coffee, tea, cereal, or bowl of blueberries.
We may be overweight. . . or not. We may be pre-diabetic or diabetic. . . or not. We may be behind in our dental bills, or we may avoid the dentist. . . or not. We may or may not be paying a medical price for our sugar cravings and our carb loading. We may or may not suffer pangs of shame and guilt because of it. We may or may not try to curb giving in to these urges.
But most of the time we who have ADHD do not understand the very logical reason that we just can’t resist that final piece of cake. It beckons us all the way from its resting place in the kitchen upstairs to our bedroom just as we are about to fall asleep, only to rouse up out of bed to snarf down that slice before finally going to sleep.
It’s because of the shot of dopamine carbs give us. Remember, we’re on a perpetual search for the dopamine shot, we don’t have as much as neurotypical people. It’s also why we’re 10 times more likely to develop compulsions or addictions of many kinds: to alcohol; to nicotine; to weed; to cocaine; to opiates. And to the many behavioral compulsions and addictions: shopping and spending; gambling; pornography; extreme sports and exercise; and games and screens of all kinds.
And then there’s food. Most people don’t make the dopamine connection with food, especially carbs. The fact is that a spoonful of sugar doesn’t just make the medicine go down, it becomes a form of medicine itself. Not a good medicine, but a part of many of our regimens to self-medicate.
As a means of relieving tension and getting instant pleasure, carbs work even faster than alcohol. It’s much safer from a social standpoint to be a carbs junky than a drug or alcohol devotee. But it can be dangerous nonetheless. Most of us who flirt with the carb cravings—like me—wish we didn’t and try to find better ways of getting that dopamine shot.
The best way to beat the carbs carousel is to develop other ways of getting that dopamine shot. At the top of my list is a creative outlet. Mine is writing. Writing this very note right now is giving me the shot I might have sought from an ice cream or a Triscuit covered with peanut butter. Yours might be drawing, or making a cool TikTok, , re-designing your garden or trying a new recipe. Whatever it is, have a creative outlet!
Second on my list are connections – human or canine. We just adopted two kittens, so I should add feline to the list. Have regular contact with a friend or relative you really enjoy talking or being with. Walk your dog or play with your cat. Connection with another living being makes a huge difference to our mental well-being.
And then physical exercise is among one of the very best ways you can get some good old dopamine. Maybe you like running or going to the gym. Maybe you hate the thought of sports! Use that creative mind and think out of the box for exercise that might tempt you.
So next time you’re courting that bowl of Cookie Dough or that jar of peanut brittle or the stack of pancakes overflowing with syrup, think to yourself, it’s just the dopamine shot I’m craving. Rather than reaching for the snack, how else can I get it? You’ll be glad you did, as you start to develop healthier ways of satisfying your brain.

Ned’s New Podcast

A new episode is released every Tuesday afternoon! You can listen via any of your favorite apps, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Apple or simply click the LISTEN tab at the top of this website page.

Meet Jen


This month for our meet our staff, we are featuring Jen Zobel Bieber. Jen is a certified personal coach whose specialty is helping adults with ADHD achieve significant personal and professional goals.

Jen has a keen ability to listen, synthesize, and help individuals move from contemplation into action. She brings to her work an understanding of the neuroscience of ADHD and its practical applications. Her clients come away with tools for time management, organization, decision-making, and simplifying. They report feeling more centered and confident as they capitalize on their strengths, manage their challenges, and exceed their own expectations.

Jen received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Columbia University, where she graduated as valedictorian of her college class. She received her coaching certification from NYU.  Earlier in her career, Jen worked in the film and television industry in news, documentary, and entertainment production for NY1, PBS, ABC, NBC, and HBO.  Jen’s work as a personal coach has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Time Out New York, Forbes, and on The Today Show.

ADHD 2.0

We’re excited to be only a few weeks away from the launch of ADHD 2.0: New Science and Strategies for Thriving with Distraction from Childhood through Adulthood, the new book by Drs. Ned Hallowell and John Ratey, which hits bookstores on January 12, 2021! You can pre-order a copy here.
Ned Hallowell and John Ratey, both of whom have ADHD, or what they prefer to term “Variable Attention StimulusTtrait,” draw on the latest science to provide both children and adults a plan for minimizing the downside and maximizing the benefits of ADHD at any age. As inspiring as it is practical, ADHD 2.0 will help you tap into the power of this mercurial condition and find the key that unlocks potential.

My Write Difficult!

Deliberately choosing to do something that is difficult does not on the face of it sound tempting. Sometimes we voluntarily subject ourselves to the difficult in order to improve ourselves by say, going on a diet or taking up a new language. But over the years I’ve found there’s a special category in the world of the difficult that each of us would do well to understand.
I call this category “the right difficult”. This is the difficult the pursuit of which not only improves you but, far greater, fills you with a unique satisfaction no other activity can match. It is especially important for those of us who have ADHD to identify and then ardently engage with this right difficult for as long as we can. It will give us the stimulation our brains crave, providing satisfaction that enables us to focus. I’ve come to believe that finding and pursuing the right difficult is among the top strategies for living positively and successfully with ADHD.
I identified my right difficult in 12th grade when I wrote a novel. Might I call it my write difficult? I’ve been wrestling with writing ever since. Like all right difficults, writing is a stern master, and yields up rewards only grudgingly. But nothing else does it for me like writing does. By “does it” I mean engages me, preoccupies me, grows in my unconscious when I’m not doing it, and, while forever frustrating and bedeviling me, gives me fulfillment like nothing else can. Writing a good sentence makes me glow for a moment or two, maybe comparable to the quick thrill a golfer feels when he or she hits a great shot, or a scientist feels when good results come in at last.
I wrote an entire chapter about the right difficult in the new book John Ratey and I are coming out with on Jan. 12, 2021, ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction. As the title promises, it contains lots of new and good stuff, useful stuff, fascinating stuff, fresh from the research labs as well as the combined 80 years of clinical experience John and I can draw upon. One of the rewards of getting a bit older is that, as the ad puts it, you know a thing or two.
In the book we introduce a new term for ADHD, because ADHD is such an inaccurate term. There’s no deficit of attention in ADHD; there’s an abundance! The challenge is to control it. And so many mega-successful people have ADHD that it makes no sense to classify it entirely as a disorder. Instead, we see it as a trait, which, depending on how you manage it, can become a burden or a special power. So our new term for ADHD is VAST: Variable Attention Stimulus Trait.
You can pre-order the book from a number of booksellers here: And after you’ve read it, John and I would love to hear from you. We want to build a VAST community based on our strength-based approach to this fascinating condition.
Meanwhile, as you wait for your book to arrive, start thinking about what your right difficult might be. Identify it, start to pursue it, wrestle with it, and before you know it, you’ll be dancing with it forever.

Thanksgiving 2020 Note from Ned

It’s Thanksgiving once again. Before you say 2020 has been the pits, that there’s coal in all our stockings, and that the idea of giving thanks makes no more sense than going swimming in the Arctic, let me say hold on, think twice, and relax just a moment. Before you add, “And since I have ADHD, there’s even less reason to be thankful, like below zero reason,” let me add this.
Since I have ADHD myself, I’m at least that much qualified to comment. Yes, ADHD can be a colossal pain in the butt. But, speaking of butt, but. . .
But we have each other. And that’s a big deal. And for all the hassles ADHD gives you day in and day out, let me propose some advantages that might, in your case, come with it, as well as mine.
How about if I name a dozen? Make that a baker’s dozen.
  1. You make people laugh. Ok, sometimes at you, but more often with you. Own it, you’ve got a wicked good sense of humor.
  2. You never bore people.
  3. You’re rarely if ever bored yourself.
  4. Trouble may follow you, but you specialize in solutions.
  5. Let’s face it: you are one creative human.
  6. You’ve got a heart as big as the Grand Canyon.
  7. You’re generous to a fault.
  8. You never give up.
  9. You embrace change.
  10. New ideas come to you all the time.
  11. You’re quirky, but wonderfully so.
  12. You can put a smile on the sourest face.
  13. It’s people like you who change the world.
So there’s a gratitude list for you. I hope you agree with at least some of them?
But what I do not need your agreement upon is my heartfelt warm wishes toward all of you. How can I say all of you, when I don’t know all of you? Because in my mind you’re a group I treasure, the all-of-you group, a group I can honestly say I feel very grateful to have in my life, and a group I love being connected with.
So let me repeat: I send all of you my warmest wishes for a well-fed, happy, and most of all healthy Thanksgiving.