Junk Food Cravings in Children

21 Nov, 2022 16:25 IST|Sakshi Post

Junk food Cravings in Children

What is a binge eating?

Just like adults, kids occasionally crave! Cravings for developing children can be a useful approach to direct caregivers to the right meal options. For instance, a child who desires ice cream may require the calcium for the development of her bones. Moms who are prepared can provide greens with sesame seeds, broccoli, sautéed tofu, and calcium-fortified plant milk. But what if the ice cream contains something more sinister that causes the craving? By releasing dopamine, junk food can activate the reward system in the brain.Drugs that are addictive cause dopamine release! A food lover may have the same type of psychoneurologically driven hunger as a drug user who is addicted to the repeated dopamine release. It might be challenging for caretakers to tell whether a child is developing, needs a nutrient, or has developed a food addiction. In children, requesting for particular foods might occasionally be a sign of real hunger and nutritional deficiency. Ever exercise and not have enough carbohydrates, then later on in the day crave carbohydrates?Kids can experience it, so be mindful of the child's diet, level of activity, and usual growth patterns. Because only "certain" meals seem to please, food addiction takes on a slightly different appearance.

What causes food addiction?

Kids' access to addictive foods stimulates brain reward motivation and influences eating by stimulating brain pathways.The metabolism and stress hormones are affected by foods that stimulate, which encourage cravings and overeating. Foods with a high sugar content (sweets) or those with highly processed fat and carbohydrate combinations are examples of highly palatable foods that taste wonderful (savory). These delicious foods activated the brain's reward and motivational pathways in a manner similar to those of drugs.

Junk food and its effects can cause tolerance, just like with illicit narcotics. A more recent study that is still relevant showed that sugar dependence can arise. This indicates that children who eat junk food run the risk of building up a dopamine tolerance, which would lead to increasing consumption. It's similar to a drug user who always requires more drugs to get euphoric.

Why does fast food causes addiction?

To keep customers eating their food, fast food chains take advantage of the science behind flavours, behaviour, and eating cues. They are aware of the precise ratio of sugar, salt, and fat that will cause a physiological release of dopamine. Kids eventually get reliant on the dopamine release and become miserable without it.With attractive food offers, this advertising frequently targets lower income groups disproportionately. Going into low-income areas and offering drugs for free is a traditional drug dealer strategy or approach. The dealer has a client for life once they become addicted. Companies that serve fast meals are not much better.

How to cure food addiction?

Many children who battle food addiction lack the vocabulary or knowledge to express their feelings about food and eating. Many parents lack the knowledge or resources necessary to ask for assistance. Once children become addicted, there is no quick remedy. But there's a solution! Caregivers must be dedicated to serving good, nutrient-rich food. Planning, buying, and cooking healthy meals are required. Similar to drug addiction, avoiding foods that upset children is crucial. To avoid falling into the trap of only "stopping once" at a burger establishment, caregivers must be ready.When that occurs, it is similar to delivering a drink to an alcoholic or a drug addict a "hit." Kids cannot refuse food when being fed, which is a significant difference as they are dependent on caregivers. A child who is starving cannot decide to wait until they get home before cooking. In order to provide a nutritious diet for the family, parents and other family members must remain steadfast. Children will cry out for junk food, just like an addict searching for their next fix.Family members can instil lifelong healthy behaviours in their children. The inverse is also true—unhealthy habits are ingrained at home. Everyone in the family may learn about food as fuel by learning to cook together, investigating ingredients, and putting together meals. Nutrient requirements can be satisfied by choosing veggies, lean meats, whole grains, and lots of herbs and spices.

-Dr. P. Ravi Kumar, Senior Consultant - Paediatrician

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