Watching your child struggle with food can be a heartbreaking experience. Like most parents, you may be feeling frustrated that they can’t “just stop” their behaviors, scared that things will get worse, and unsure where to turn for help!
At TheHealthyWeighOut, we understand how to help children, teens, and their families resolve this issue once and for all.
Because we know diets are dangerous (and oftentimes backfire into disordered eating) and discussion of weight loss is even more dangerous for impressionable kids and teens (and oftentimes backfires into decades of dieting), our program is leading the nation in preventing the next generation of chronic dieters. Our weight-neutral and body positive approach teaches kids and their families how to effectively address and resolve whatever underlying emotional issues are driving the compulsive need for food, how to intuitively eat all foods that help them feel satisfied and nourished, and intuitively move in many different ways that help them feel happy, strong, confident, and excited. We want kids and teens to learn that “healthy” means caring for the physical and emotional body with love, kindness, acceptance, and respect – NOT judgment, shame, criticism, and fear. And, most importantly, we want kids and teens to know that they are beautiful and worthy and enough no matter their body size and shape!
At TheHealthyWeighOut, we love working with children, teens, and their families to develop a loving and balanced relationship with food, their body, and their emotions. We utilize an effective combination of emotional and nutritional therapy to support these goals.
Emotional Treatment of Binge Eating in Kids & Teens
Children and teens affected by emotional eating and binge eating may experience emotional issues that are uniquely connected to their eating behaviors. Like many adults, some children eat excessively in response to emotions like stress, boredom, loneliness, or sadness. For these kids, helping them learn how to identify, understand, and appropriately express these emotions is a key to their recovery process. Kids deserve to understand what is happening inside of their emotional body, and to have the skills for effectively communicating this to the people most important to them. For when children are able to healthily come forward with how they’re feeling and what they’re needing, they won’t use food to quell the emotional distress within.
Additionally, supporting healthy communication within the family system is also important, so that the child feels safe sharing vulnerable emotions and related needs and can trust that they will receive a loving, non-judgmental response. For many families, therapy can be a valuable space for learning how to effectively navigate vulnerable conversations and uncomfortable issues with the compassionate support of an emotional “guide” to facilitate a healthy process. This can also be a wonderful space for safely exploring members’ beliefs about food, weight, and emotions that may be helping or hindering the child’s recovery from binge eating.
Emotional treatment may include a variety of possible modalities, including:
- Individual therapy for the child/teen to have a safe space to process their feelings and needs
- Family therapy for the child/teen, parent(s), and any other significant family members (e.g., siblings) to develop healthy communication processes
- Individual therapy for one or both parents if personal struggles with eating and/or emotional expression are interfering with their ability to support their child’s healthy recovery from binge eating
Nutritional Treatment of Binge Eating in Kids & Teens
A no-diet, weight-neutral approach is key to the nutritional treatment of binge eating in kids and teens. Discussions of the child’s unique nutritional needs should be explored within the context of what the child likes and wants to eat, and not the child’s weight or what the child “should” eat to be “healthy.” Giving a child permission to eat all foods in moderation and teaching them how to listen to their body’s natural hunger/satisfaction signals is an effective way to raise an Intuitive Eater who knows how to care for their physical body without judgment, criticism, or diets!
Nutritional treatment may include a variety of possible modalities, including:
- Individual nutritional therapy with the child/teen to develop a satisfying relationship with food that includes all of the foods s/he enjoys eating and teach principles of Intuitive Eating
- Family nutritional therapy for the child/teen, parent(s), and any other significant family members (e.g., siblings) to discuss healthy processes surrounding food and eating; this may include educational discussion, eating family meals together with the dietitian, planning for upcoming family meal experiences at home
- Individual nutritional therapy for one or both parents if personal struggles with eating and/or weight management are interfering with their ability to support their child’s nutritional recovery from binge eating; if the parent has concerns about the child’s weight, this would be the appropriate forum for discussing these concerns – talking about the child’s weight in front of him/her is never recommended
Getting Started: Treating Childhood Overeating
Since all of our programming for children, teens, and families is individualized, the first step is to contact our office for an initial assessment. This 50-minute session will be conducted by one of our team’s specialists who will review with you your child’s history and current factors associated with his/her nutritional and emotional well-being.
During this assessment, we will provide an abundance of education and information, and we encourage you to ask any questions you may have related to your child’s struggles and/or our treatment recommendations. We will then assist you in creating an individualized treatment plan that will most likely involve Emotional and/or Nutritional support for your child and the family.
Curious which treatment professionals are necessary in supporting your child’s recovery process? Check out Dr. Ashley‘s educational video on this very topic: