Emotional eating isn’t a problem that only affects adults, and as well as the unpleasant feelings your child might be trying to hide, they could be adding to their problems by putting on weight. Madhu Mathur, MD, MPH, of Lifestyle Medicine Center in Stamford, Connecticut, is a pediatrician and expert in childhood obesity who can support your child if they have emotional eating issues and find better ways for them to manage their feelings. Call Lifestyle Medicine Center today to find out more about emotional eating, or book an appointment online.
Emotional eating is a common way in which adults and children try to comfort themselves when they feel upset or low.
It’s a coping mechanism used to suppress negative emotions, but the brief pleasure of eating often turns into feelings of guilt and shame, made worse when the emotional eater starts to gain weight because of their habit.
It’s difficult to imagine your child feeling low and turning to food for comfort, but it’s not uncommon; and if you can see it’s happening, you can take steps to help your child learn better ways of coping with difficulties in their lives and not see food as emotional support.
Your instinct as a parent is often enough to alert you to the fact that your child has an emotional eating problem and needs support. You might also notice behavioral changes, for example, they seem more withdrawn or irritable, and you find snacks disappearing from the refrigerator, or empty junk food wrappers in their room.
If your child is gaining weight, then a visit to Lifestyle Medicine Center is a great way to find out what’s causing the problem and uncover any emotional issues. Getting to the source of the eating problem is essential before your child can lose weight effectively.
Dr. Mathur takes time to talk to you and your child together and alone, using motivational interviewing to bring about change and to get as much information as she can about the influences on your child’s dietary choices. That way, she can provide the right services for your child, including emotional eating support.
Finding out why they have an emotional eating problem is the best way to help your child, as you can address the problem and resolve it where possible and provide comfort and support. If your child isn’t sure what causes their emotional eating episodes, help them keep a food journal so that together you can see any links between what your child is experiencing and their urge to eat.
Other ways to help your child overcome emotional eating include:
Another highly effective way to help your child is to take advantage of the professional support and advice Dr. Mathur provides to children who have emotional eating problems and their parents. Call Lifestyle Medicine Center today to find out more, or book an appointment online.