In my teenage nutrition clinic I see children from 11 – 18 years of age with a variety of diet related conditions including eating disorders, food allergy and intolerances and gastro-intestinal problems.
Food has different significance for us all. During the teenage years, it may be a way of expressing emotions or control; it may be a source of discomfort or pain; it may cause tensions within families or it may be of no particular interest at all. The physical aspects of nourishing ourselves are distinct from the emotional, although these two aspects are intimately connected, with emotional issues sometimes presenting as physical symptoms and vice versa.
Learning how best to nourish ourselves with food is part of growing up and when things go wrong with how we are eating, it may be due to underlying emotional difficulties, which some teenagers are unable to engage with. I help individuals and families understand and manage their food-related problems, by taking a dietary assessment in the first instance. A specific dietary assessment may be undertaken if there is concern about an eating disorder.
Confidentiality and Consent
All my consultations are heard in the strictest of confidence; a breach of confidentiality undermines any therapeutic relationship. For a teenager, confidentiality may be particularly important, and they may wish to share difficult or troubling information. I respect this and always discuss with a teenager what is meant by confidentiality and consent. It can be understood to be a verbal contract: what is said in confidence is agreed to be confidential and private. However, it is explained that if a young person is at risk of harm, consent to share that information with others will be asked for, but is not necessary.
Mindfulness is a learned technique which has been shown to increase self awareness and wellbeing. It is an approach which encourages approaching things moment by moment, and experiencing things as they happen in a compassionate and non-judgemental way. This may be applied to how we view ourselves and others, our physical and emotional world. Becoming aware in this way helps can help us navigate through difficulties and accept things more fully the way things are. I may suggest these types of techniques as part of my holistic approach.