Mind & Spirit

Doctor's advice: How to tell if your teen is an emotional eater

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Doctor's advice: How to tell if your teen is an emotional eater

This story was originally titled "Your Kids: 12-16 Years" in the July 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

The situation
: Our 14-year-old son has put on a lot of weight. We eat healthily at home, but when he goes out with friends, he has french fries and pop. I've tried bringing it up, but he clamps up.

The solution
: Occasional indulging in "guilty pleasures" like fries is fine, unless your son's added weight is contributing to body-image and self-confidence issues. Does he show any new and unusual signs of anxiety or depression, such as sleeplessness and irritability, or loss of interest in his past friends or activities? Has he become sedentary, forgoing once-loved physical activities such as sports? In other words, is your son eating to comfort himself emotionally? If you think so, seek professional help.

If he is simply succumbing to peer influence outside of the home, make sure he and his friends continue to have healthy meals and snacks in your home. Assuming you model a healthy lifestyle, including exercising regularly, he will see this as the norm, and take it on himself, especially when he becomes aware that his social success may be determined by being and looking fit.

Ron Clavier is an author and psychologist with a background in neuroscience.

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Mind & Spirit

Doctor's advice: How to tell if your teen is an emotional eater

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