Compulsive Overeating, Sugar Binging, and ADHD

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    • #43286
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user Dianne in the Desert in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I would be less concerned about the sweets and more concerned with why she is seeking sweets. At 16, she has a lot of “stuff” going on that parents seem to have forgotten about.

      Typically, this might be seen as an “energy depletion” problem, but that needs to be ruled out before anything else is tried. When was her last visit to the doctor? This behavior can also signal that her anxiety level is draining her energy and that she feels “fatigued”.

      It may be time for you to sit down and have a talk with her and find out what she believes is going on with her. Do not mention the wrappers as if it was a huge “wrong”. Rather ask her if she is feeling well and if she thinks she needs something to help with her physical and or mental energy.

      What other changes have you noticed? Is her face breaking out? Is she biting her nails? ADD can have a connection to the physical aspect, too.

      Schedule the medical exam for a time when she is out of school (holidaybreak) so that you can take care of things quickly without interfering in school.

      I would want to rule out the existence of other problems before assuming that this is or is not an affect of her ADD.

      Dianne in the desert

    • #43289
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user positivemom in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Thanks for replying so quickly. She also picks at her skin on her face and has pulled her eyebrows. Her ADHD coach and therapist has her using playdo for the picking which is helping, the eating is another thing that has popped up. It seems it is always something;. We recently went through NeuroPsych testing for a complete diagnosis of any other co-existing conditions. We will have all results in the next couple of weeks. We have talked about when and why she eats and she admits, like the picking, it is when she is anxious. I was just curious if eating/overeating, especially sugar is a common behavior seen and any suggestions of how to help address it.

    • #43291
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user bigmidget in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I have same issue with my 15 year old. I stopped buying treats as he couldn’t keep himself from sneaking and binging on them. Instead I buy protein bars (try to find with as little sugar as possible and he eats them instead and thinks of them as a treat. We also keep protein powder in the house and he makes himself “milkshakes”.

      I save the junk food for special occasions that he has to earn with points for doing things around the house. I only buy in very small quantities as they will be gone in an instant in my house. He does sometime bake on his own so I have to limit how much sugar and flour we keep in the house as well.

    • #43295
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user Lilies&Orchids; in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      My dd15 did this a lot more before she started medication, including a lot of pasta and potatoes (is popcorn a simple carb too?) It’s all a craving for a pick-me-up boost through sugar. But then you have the crash later mixed with teenage hormones and it ain’t pretty. The medication has reduced the cravings but I still hide the Halloween candy.

      Definitely talk to her doctor about it. Her ADHD is looking for outside stimulation and by now she probably has a sugar addiction.

      All good advice above. Significantly reduce the sugar availability in her life. It may be messy the first week if she has a bit of an addiction but she’ll settle into it and aside from being healthier, her ADHD symptoms will likely improve as well.

    • #40030
      Penny Williams

      This discussion was originally started by user positivemom in ADDitude’s now-retired community. The ADDitude editors have included it here to encourage more discussion.


      My daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD/Anxiety about 9 months ago. She just turned 16.

      Is hiding food and overeating sugar common in ADHD and teenage girls?  I am trying to disengage and not react when I find wrappers and evidence of a binge because my husband and I have been urged to be more positive and less negative by her counselor, but it is so hard.

      Does anyone have any advice for helping with how to positively deal with this destructive coping mechanism?

    • #43298
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user adhdmomma in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Eating your emotions, as they say, is common for many people, especially those with anxiety (to which myself and my 17-year-old daughter qualify). It seems the more I point out to my daughter how unhealthy her eating habits are, the worse it gets. She eats no fruits or vegetables—only carbs and sugar. 🙁

      Binge eating can happen with ADHD:, and eating disorders in general are very common for girls and women with ADHD:

      I want to address the hair pulling you mentioned too. It’s called trichotillomania: Studies have shown the supplement Inositol can be very effective for this. You can read more about that online by googling it (it’s also really good for anxiety).

      Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #43301
      Kevin Ju

      This reply was originally posted by user Sandman2 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Can you tell what time of the day this happens? Is it late at night? Does she eat a good dinner? Also depending on the sport – you burn a lot of calories. I would be supplementing her diet with protein shakes, etc.
      And if her meds cause her to be even a little bit less hungry at dinner, she could get really, really hungry later on. Start buying protein bars, fruit, etc so at least she is getting healthy stuff.
      The medscape article mentioned above on binge eating is a good one. This is a follow up with many good suggestions on ways to overcome this problem. The link is

      One other thought is that since she is fairly recently on meds, it may be that she hasn’t hit the right dose yet for the Adderall. Docs go low and go slow waiting on parental feedback to assess when to increase or decrease meds. And if the parents aren’t really sure what to look for, then it is very possible for the child to be either over or under medicated. Here is a good link on what to look for –
      finally, here is a pretty good link on ADHD and Anxiety
      Hope this helps.

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