Are There Any Food or Drinks That Can Affect My ADHD Medication?

ADHD Medication and Food
An ADHD medication is frowning while holding a taco in their kitchen.

Most patients can tolerate their ADHD meds just fine, but it’s good to pay attention to how various foods and drinks make you feel.

Albert Hernandez

October 8, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  6 min read

October 8, 2022
 Medically Reviewed by Tanya Hernandez, PMHNP-BC
Updated on: October 20, 2022
  6 min read


When you start something new, be it a new job, a new workout routine, or a new medication regimen, it’s normal to wonder how this new phase will impact what and when you eat and drink. My patients who have moved to El Paso from another area, for example, sometimes find that they need to drink more water due to the hot and arid environmental conditions. Patients who are starting on stimulant medication for their Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) sometimes ask me, “Are there any food or drinks that can affect my ADHD medication?”

Patients are often prescribed stimulants such as Concerta, Adderall, or Vyvanse for the treatment of the distractibility and other symptoms that come with ADHD. Although many patients will find that they can take their stimulant medications without any problems, some patients experience side effects when they first begin their medication regimen. People being treated for ADHD may also notice that consuming or avoiding certain beverages and foods can impact their ADHD. Learning more about how foods and drinks interact with your ADHD meds and your ADHD symptoms will help you understand if you’ll need to make any changes to your habits.

Symptoms of ADHD

When patients are diagnosed with ADHD, it’s because of how symptoms are impacting their lives. These symptoms can include:

  • Talking too much and talking over others
  • Being unable to sit still
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Losing important items needed for school, work, or home
  • Avoiding tasks that have multiple steps or will require focus for a long period of time
  • Forgetting things that need to be done

When these symptoms interfere with a patient’s work, home, or school life, they are often prescribed stimulant medication such as Vyvanse, Concerta, or Adderall. Stimulant medications help to balance the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. When these brain chemicals work correctly in the brain, patients find that the distractedness and hyperactivity of ADHD are improved.

Potential Side Effects of Stimulant Medications For ADHD

Healthy patients with no underlying medical conditions typically tolerate ADHD medications very well without significant side effects. As you are starting your stimulant medication, and as your dose of Vyvanse, Adderall, or Concerta is being adjusted up to the dose that will work best for you, you might notice:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Slight increase in heart rate or blood pressure
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Feeling grouchy or irritable
  • Upset stomach

These side effects usually only last for a short period of time, and adjusting when you take your medication, as well as paying attention to what else you consume, can help you feel your best as you take your stimulant medication.

How Food and Drinks Can Impact ADHD Medication

Drinking Enough Water

Some patients find that stimulant medication makes their mouth feel drier than a New Mexico desert. Making sure to stay hydrated throughout the day can combat this dry mouth feeling, while not drinking enough water can make dry mouth worse.

Dehydration can also cause focus issues, potentially making ADHD symptoms worse.

Try to drink sufficient plain water, sparkling water, or flavored water throughout the day to feel hydrated.

Eating Regularly

A pill is sad because they can’t eat a taco.

For some people, their Concerta, Adderall, or Vyvanse impacts their appetite. While their stimulant medication is active in their system, they don’t feel as hungry. People may also notice that if they take their stimulant meds on an empty stomach it leads to stomach discomfort. For most patients, it’s a good idea to eat before they take their dose of Adderall or Vyvanse for the day. If you notice that your appetite is suppressed while you’re taking your stimulant medication, try to eat smaller, more frequent meals or snacks throughout the day.


Drinking alcohol while taking stimulant medication can cause your medication to generally be less effective. Some people may be less likely to feel drunk if they consume alcohol while taking their Vyvanse, Concerta, or Adderall, which may lead them to drink more alcohol than they intend to. Because of the way alcohol may impact your ADHD and your ADHD medication, be sure to discuss it with your behavioral health provider before drinking alcohol while taking your stimulant medication.


Like Vyvanse, Adderall, and Concerta, the caffeine found in coffee, soda, energy drinks, and even chocolate is also a stimulant. Although we know that caffeine can improve alertness and attention to a point, it’s not an effective treatment for ADHD.

The amount of caffeine that would be needed to even approach impacting your ADHD symptoms would also cause jitteriness, nervousness, and stomach upset.

That said, the amount of caffeine that will be comfortable for you to consume when taking your Adderall or Vyvanse will vary person by person. Some of my patients find they crave less coffee or Coke when on their stimulant medication. Pay attention to how a cup of coffee is making you feel, and like your ADHD medication, don’t consume caffeine too close to going to bed. The Sleep Foundation recommends cutting off caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed.

Getting treatment for your ADHD means that you can thrive in your career, connect with your partner, and be the parent you want to be. As you and your provider work together to find the right medication and dose to treat your ADHD, you should also discuss how what you eat and drink might impact your condition. Are you staying hydrated enough? Do you find that you have to cut off caffeine in the afternoon to make sure you can get to sleep at night? Your behavioral health provider should help you examine your intake and make a plan that will maximize the effectiveness of your stimulant medication.

Ready to get your ADHD under control? If you live in El Paso, TX, or one of the other areas we serve, Upper Valley Behavioral Health wants to be your ADHD treatment provider. Let’s work together to get your life back on track. Please fill out our short application for treatment today.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not replace instructions from your licensed prescriber. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance on your specific medication regimen.

Tags: adhd

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