What Every Parent Should Know About Food Addiction

Food addiction is a real thing, and there are many studies available that show that certain types of foods, such as those containing high amounts of salt, fat or sugar do trigger the brain, causing it to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and calm. This result can quickly become a physical and mental bondage. Some individuals addicted to foods will experience cravings even when they aren’t hungry. They experience the cravings because they want those feelings of well-being.

When it comes to addiction, most parents understand addiction to alcohol and drugs. Many also understand how addiction to these substances changes the way the brain acts, especially in the reward-processing center of the brain. What many parents don’t know is that the same type of reaction can occur with food addiction. The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology found that cravings for food activate different parts of the brain depending on whether a person is of normal weight or obese. These researchers found that an MRI of the brain displayed neural activity that looked surprisingly like substance abuse does.

If you’re a parent of a teen that you believe may have a food addiction, here are some other facts you need to know:

The Facts Behind Food Addiction in Troubled Teens

  • Individuals Struggling with Food Addiction Come in All Shapes and Sizes- While most people associate food addiction with obesity, a girl with a normal weight and BMI can suffer from food addiction as well. There are several ways for an individual to restrict weight gain, even if they are eating in excess. Some may exercise. Some may binge. Some may even starve themselves for a period of time before eating. Food addiction isn’t about what your teen weighs. It’s about how they use food, and whether they use it in a healthy manner.
  • Food Addiction Isn’t All About Junk Food- In fact, addicts have been known to stuff themselves so full of vegetables that they become sick. While some people crave foods with salt, fat or sugar in them, others will eat anything available to them, even if it appears healthy.
  • Loving Food Isn’t the Same as Food Addiction- Your teen may love generous helpings of pizza and Chinese food, but that doesn’t automatically mean she’s addicted to food. Everyone overdoes it occasionally. Food addiction is different. They have an uncontrollable habit. Many times, they are filled with shame and don’t even enjoy eating. They just feel as if they have to continue eating.
  • It’s Different Than Emotional Eating- If your daughter runs for a pint of Rocky Road when her boyfriend breaks up with her, these are not necessarily symptoms of food addiction. It’s not even gateway behavior. Emotional eating can be solved with therapy, while food addiction requires a more in-depth approach.

Treating Food Addiction at Greenbrier’s Therapeutic All-Girls School

Greenbrier offers help for food addiction at our therapeutic boarding school. We’ll help her understand the reasons behind the addiction while also paying close attention to what she eats and changes in her weight. Find out more about our addiction recovery program today.

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