Child psychologist Beth Braun says children often eat to fill the emptiness they feel on the inside. "Many times, overeating is considered an eating disorder," she says. "The core of an eating disorder is the need for the child or the adolescent to have control. How will the overweight children take control? By eating more." She recommends the following to help change a child's behavior.
  • Stop the Emotional Disconnect. Food feels good going down, it feels good when it's inside you, it fills you up, and it doesn't talk back. If you notice your children eating large quantities of food after school and heading for the computer or TV, sit down next and ask, "How was your day?" Don't let them eat to make themselves feel better. Let them talk to you about their problems.
  • Make the Whole Family Healthy. Your reaction to your child's weight can be more devastating than the actual pounds. When parents put pressure on children to lose weight, children often feel like they're a failure if they don't. Children cannot be expected to make changes on their own. Don't single out the overweight child by making one special meal for her. Get the whole family to eat well!
  • Find Support. As your child learns to express their emotions, it's important to find others to talk to about the pain. Have him join a group, see a counselor or find other activities to let out their emotions.
  • Write it Down. Braun says, "Realize that the overeating is really emotional eating. Keep track of how you're feeling, and learn to deal with your emotions." She does this for herself occasionally by writing down what she eats in a journal. It's a good way to become aware of what you are eating.


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