Managing Food Addiction in Your Teen

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01 Aug Managing Food Addiction in Your Teen

If you’re concerned that your teen is struggling with food addiction, you may be feeling confused, helpless or lost. Parenting a teen with a food addiction can be difficult, but there are many different ways you can support them as a parent on the journey to recovery.

What is Food Addiction?

People who are addicted to food have a compulsive need to eat even if they’re not hungry. Just like other types of addicts, food addicts have a very difficult time controlling their behaviors and often find that they cannot stop, no matter how much they may want to. Many people who are addicted to food use eating as a method to cope with everyday life stressors.

Supporting Your Food-Addicted Teen

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Image Credit: Priscilla Westra

Food addiction can negatively impact your teen in a variety of ways, including weight gain, depression, heart problems and illness. While food addiction is a serious problem, there are several simple ways you can support your teen and help them manage their cravings.

It’s important to note that many teens are very sensitive about issues around their diet and weight. And since they are growing and developing, teens need to eat more food than they did as children. Before you speak to your teen about the possibility of a food addiction, carefully observe their behavior. If they tend to eat when not hungry or binge-eat while under stress, they may be struggling with food addiction. If they just eat more food overall, this may be a normal sign of healthy development. If you’re concerned that your teen may be overeating, help them eat a balanced, healthy diet.

Keep an Open Line of Communication

Many teens who use food as a coping mechanism are struggling with negative feelings of self-worth or depression. Ensure your teen knows that you are always available for a chat if they would like to discuss how they are doing, or how you as a parent could best support them that day. If your teen knows that they can talk to you about what’s bothering them, they may feel less of a desire to indulge in unhealthy eating habits.

Talk to Your Teen About Their Triggers

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Image Credit: Paul Proshin

Like most addicts, food addicts often have certain triggers that turn on a craving. It could be walking past a food court, hearing people argue or feeling left out of a social situation. Every food addict has different triggers. Find out what your teen’s triggers are and ask them how you can help them avoid triggers or triggering situations.

Consult With a Professional

There are plenty of professionals that specialize in helping people with food addictions. If your teen needs some extra support, make an appointment to consult with a nutritionist, psychologist or doctor. They can monitor your teen’s physical health while giving them some extra help in managing their addiction. Ask your teen about their appointments and if there is any “homework” their doctor gave them that you could help with.

Enroll Your Teen in a Treatment Program

If all else fails your teen may need intensive treatment that only an inpatient treatment program can provide. Food addiction treatment centres are able to provide your teen with around-the-clock treatment and help them get their lives on track. If nothing you have tried has helped your teen manage their food addiction, don’t be afraid to consult with a treatment centre.

Food addiction is serious, but there are many ways that you can help your teen conquer their addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life. If you’re worried that your teen is struggling with food addiction, reach out to them and ask how you can best support them on their way to recovery.

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