• Understanding Food Addiction For You And Your Teenager | Jennifer Alembik | Episode 113

  • food addiction in teenagersTouched-up photos of thin, beautiful women and muscular, gorgeous men. Movies where sadness is met with a tub of ice cream. Living in a world that feels out of control. These are just a few of the societal factors that contribute to food addiction. But what exactly is food addiction? Does my craving for a bowl of ice cream, or a pint or half gallon, constitute food addiction? How can we tell if our teenager has a food issue? What can we do to help or to prevent a problem in the first place? Food addiction expert Jennifer Alembik answers these questions and more in her discussion with Mighty Parenting Podcast host Sandy Fowler.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    “There’s a difference between self care and self love. We need to teach our kids to love themselves, to speak to themselves lovingly.”

    High Points From Our Conversation On Understanding Food Addiction For You And Your Teenager:

    prevent food addiction by teaching teens self loveFood addiction involves an obsession with food, an obsession with weight, or a lack of control over the amount eaten.

    Teens tend to obsess about weight more than food.

    Jennifer’s daughter was obsessing about her weight but once she took control of her food she found a healthy path.

    We need to learn to eat healthy and with proper portions.

    There’s a difference between self care and self love. Self care is when our teens take care of themselves on the outside so they feel good on the inside. Self love is when they take care in what they say to themselves, when they speak to themselves with kindness and love.

    Parents tend to be concerned with our teenagers’ grades, friends and social interactions but we need to be aware of their eating habits too. We also need to be a healthy role model for them.

    Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Addicts come from loving homes and dysfunctional homes alike.

    Food addiction is a mental, physical, and spiritual problem and needs to be treated on all levels.

    Being overweight does not make you a food addict. It’s all about how you use food. If you use food to numb out, are hiding, obsessing, or binging then you may be an addict. 

    Women regularly discuss our weight but not our behavior around food.

    If you’re concerned about your teen then having family meals and noticing their behavior around food is a good place to start. Are they eating? Are they counting calories? If they gain weight, are they still happy? Is their exercise balanced or obsessive? It’s all about how they’re feeling in their body.

    Dig into their motives for doing and not doing things. Ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions in an effort to understand where they’re coming from.

    Watch what you say to your kids and what you say to yourself, especially around your kids.

    What you think about your kids matters.

    Resources Mentioned in the Show:

    Mighty Parenting episode 113 Understanding and Managing Emotions with Jude Bijou

    Our Guest Jennifer Alembik:

    Jennifer Alembik - food addiction counselorJennifer Alembik is a Food Addiction Coach and recovering food addict who has devoted her life to speaking, writing, and coaching on this debilitating disease.  Jenny’s intense passion to raise awareness and help others comes from her own personal struggle with food. She sought treatment at age 21 and unfortunately, it was ineffective.  Finally, at the age of 45 yrs., she learned of her severe addiction to sugar and flour; the addictive culprits of her insane obsession and compulsion to eat. She currently resides in Florida with her three children; maintaining a 75lb weight loss and enjoying a full life, obsession free.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://www.jenniferalembik.com 


    Hello, I have to say that I was eager to listen to this podcast as my 17 year old daughter is venturing into a troubled relationship with food. I was disappointed to find myself frustrated with the speaker because she was not addressing what to actually do when your teen is in the depths of over eating. At one point I even hear her comment that parents are at fault for providing non healthy options in the pantry. Well, my daughter drives, works, is independent and will take herself to the store to purchase whatever her heart desires. What I want to know is, how can I guide her to make healthy food choices especially when I find bags cookies etc.. in her room. Keep in mind that she is a stubborn teen Who learns from experience (like most) and whatever I say is rejected, though I’m sure some may sink in. Let’s face it-when they are 17, we can no longer provide the type of guidance your speaker recommended. I think us parents need support as we let our kids make their mistakes and learn how to keep our mouths shut-or at least let us know if that is a good path to take. Thanks for listening.


    Hi Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and asking for what you need. I know this is incredibly difficult because we want to protect our kids but we can't make them do (or not do) something and that is frustrating. Wouldn't life be so much better if we could just run their lives? :) Seriously though...hugs for you as you walk this difficult road with your daughter. I'm not an expert but I'm happy to share my thoughts and things I've tried. We definitely have some sugar issues and emotional eating that happens in our house. The first thing I did was start casually talking about me instead of them. Just casual comments and conversation, not a production or a big sit-down talk. I just share my own experiences and struggles with the girls. I've told them that I can be an emotional eater and also that I easily start craving sugar. When I started getting crabby after a week of eating sugar every day I outed myself and just said, "Hey, warning. Mom couldn't resist candy this past week and I realized it's making me crabby. I'm quitting but I'm a little touchy and probably will be for a few days so tread lightly." As I clean up my diet I'll say out loud that I'm craving a Reeces or ice cream or whatever. I'll ask them to go for a bike ride or a walk on the beach to help me refocus myself. And I'll comment on how nice it is when the cravings subside and how much better I'm sleeping, how much more energy I have, etc. These are just passing comments or dinner table chats, not a pointed discussion. This helps to normalize talking about our weaknesses and also shows them some of the impact of sugar and the benefits of letting go of it. It also lays out one path to dealing with it. I also acknowledge emotional eating. I've been actively utilizing the ideas in Attitude Reconstruction (episode 103) and am sharing that with my family as well. If I see one of my girls stuck in emotional eating I'll give them a hug and ask what's bothering them. I'll listen without judging or trying to fix it. I may ask if they want to try one of the techniques for releasing the emotion. If they say no then I simply say I understand and I'm there if they want to talk, go do something, or change their mind about the release methods. We had one who was hiding junk in her room. We talked to her about it from a very non-judgmental place and one where we only addressed the idea that we don't want food in the bedrooms. We didn't comment on the nature of the food or the fact she was hiding it. I cleaned out a kitchen cupboard and gave it to her to keep her food in, whatever that may be. I have no idea if this is the best way to handle it but my husband and I were really concerned about the hiding and wanted to do something to curb that. Fortunately, it worked well. She has used the kitchen cabinet and is quite open about what she's eating. As you said, they're going to do what they're going to do. We buy healthy food and if anyone wants junk (including me) then they buy that themselves. We talk openly about our food choices, cravings, etc. I share information that I run across as well as demonstrating healthy habits as much as possible. I openly acknowledge my own struggles as well as failures when they happen. I believe it all helps even if there are still some issues. After all, this is a journey.