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Overeating in Teens

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Overeating in Teens
Many teens struggle with overeating. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many people, teens included, overindulge at times. Whether it's eating too much during a holiday or having too many treats at a party, it's not uncommon to realize you've overeaten. However, when a person consistently or frequently eats this way, it can be a sign of a deeper problem. If your teen is showing signs of overeating, you may be concerned -- both with the emotional reasons behind it, as well as possible physical problems that can result from chronic overeating, such as obesity or high blood pressure.

Signs of a Problem

According to FamilyDoctor.org, there are a few signs parents should look out for when it comes to a teen's eating habits. If your teen sneaks food or seems embarrassed by her eating habits, there may be a problem. Other warning signs include emotional eating, especially when sad, angry or disappointed. Also, emotional eating tends to follow specific cravings. For instance, if your teen was just hungry, she might grab whatever happens to be in the fridge or what you're serving for dinner, but if she has a binge-eating problem, she will likely be looking for specific comfort foods, like macaroni-and-cheese or ice-cream -- usually foods packed with carbohydrates, fat or sugar.

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Things to Keep in Mind

Before you panic about your teen's eating habits, remember to look at the big picture. If the overeating is short term, such as over the holidays, it's probably not a problem. Teens may also eat a good deal before and during a major growth spurt, so keep that in mind when evaluating your teen's eating habits. Additionally, there may have been a dramatic increase in your teen's activity level that could be causing him to be hungrier. For instance, if your teen recently joined the long-distance running team, he may be eating more than normal -- and justifiably so.

Causes of Overeating

KidsHealth.org explains that there can be lots of reasons a teen may overeat. Teens may overeat if they feel they are misunderstood, or are feeling stressed, hurt, overwhelmed or angry without the proper tools to express such emotions. Overeating in teens is most often a result of difficult emotions your teen is experiencing.

What to Do

If you suspect your teen has a problem with overeating, talk to her doctor to find out if she's in the healthy weight range, and to get advice specific to your child. Offer plenty of healthy food options to your child so that there are fruits, veggies and whole grains for her to choose from when she's hungry. Set a good example with your own eating habits by eating right and not overindulging in high-fat foods. Encourage physical activity, whether it's joining a sports team or just going for a walk together after dinner each night. Additionally, limit time in front of the TV and video games to encourage your teen to be more active. Do not ever put your child on a strict diet without speaking to her doctor first.

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author image Kathy Gleason
Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.
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