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7 Ways to Help Kids Addicted to Food

  • Try to figure out what's really going on. Is it really about the food? Not likely. Is it something else, like a plea for attention? If you think it is emotional eating, ask your child if he's sad or angry. Try to suss out the obsessive eating trigger.
  • Get physical by making activity a fun family affair. Try bike rides, Frisbee contests, skateboarding, gym swims, hoops (both basketball and hula). Whatever you like doing together, do it. It's a physical-mental lift for everyone.
  • Teach kids to cook. By letting your child help you choose recipes, shop and make healthy meals, you can pass on a love of good ingredients.
  • Buy your older kids a diary. If your child is mature enough, have her start a food journal—writing down what she feels when she eats while and listing everything she consumes.
  • Enlist your family doc. Research backs this up: Kids with weight problems make progress if they're seen by their doctors more frequently. If a child needs to trim down, I suggest checkups every three to four months that include talks about food choices and physical activity.
  • Explain the risks and dangers of overeating in an age-appropriate way. You know the list: diabetes, heart disease, obesity, embarrassment, ugly teasing and more go along with unhealthy, addictive eating habits.
  • Find an expert. If you think your child is obsessed with food or is anorexic or bulimic, talk to your doctor about finding a psychologist trained in eating disorders.
Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg—or Dr. Jen—is RealAge's pediatric expert and the author of The Smart Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents and Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children. Get more of her advice at RealAge.com.

Does your child struggle with food? What are you doing to promote healthy food relationships in your family? Share your advice for other parents in the comments area below.

Keep Reading:
How to talk to your teen daughter about her weight
Join first lady Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity
Giving overweight teens the tools to better health
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

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