Food Addiction In Children: Symptoms And How To Overcome It?

Research and clinical trials have demonstrated that for some people, the pleasure centers of your brain which are triggered by illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine are also activated by food, particularly, ‘yummy’ foods, loaded with fat, salt and sugar.

Similar to a drug addiction, highly palatable foods set off the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters of the brain such as dopamine.

Once the child experiences pleasure linked to an increased release of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure path from eating certain specific foods, he feels the need to eat those foods again and again.

The reward messages from these palatable foods overrule other messages of fullness and satiety. Consequently, you will keep eating, even when not hungry.

Experts say that food addiction may play a pivotal role in childhood obesity. However, normal weight kids may also suffer from food addiction. These children may be genetically programmed to deal with the extra calories or they could be increasing their physical activity in order to recompense for the overeating.

Symptoms Of Food Addiction In Children

Food addiction in children is characterized by:

  • Eating certain specific foods even if you aren’t hungry.
  • Eating to the point of feeling queasy.
  • Consuming a lot more food than you planned when you started eating that specific food item.
  • Worrying about cutting down certain kinds of foods.
  • When those specific foods are not available, you will go out of your way to get them.
  • You eat food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities.
  • You avoid professional and social situations where those specific foods are available given your fear of overeating them.
  • You cannot function adequately at school because of the disorder.
  • There’s always a lot of anxiety and agitation.
  • There are also feelings of guilt, self-loathing and depression.
  • You need to eat to fight negative emotions and to stay happy.

How To Overcome Food Addiction?

Tackling and successfully dealing with food addiction in children is rather tricky. It calls for a multidisciplinary approach. You need to work with your health care provider, psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, as well as pediatrician. They will help you deal with breaking the cycle of compulsive eating. Also, support from family and friends is exceedingly important.

  • There are also a host of programs which help those addicted to food; these programs along with strict diets which ask you to withhold from eating foods packed with fat, sugar, refined flour, and too much salt, slowly but steadily help you achieve your target.
  • Make sure that you eat every 2 hours. Never stay hungry for long periods of time. Include lots of fresh fruits, dried fruits, salads, fresh juices, soups and whole wheat bread in to your everyday menu. Opt for dark chocolate, homemade cookies, nuts and cheese; instead of fatty and sugary refined foods.
  • Also, essentially, you need to understand your stressors and battle them successfully; this is crucial to combating an eating disorder.
  • Ensure that your child is active and takes part in at least one sport – basketball, tennis, badminton or swimming. Furthermore, encourage him to practice Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation.

Putting all these in to practice promises you to cope with an eating disorder; nonetheless, it will take about 6 to 12 months to come out of your addiction.

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