My teenage nutrition clinic is a relaxed place where I see teens from 13 – 18 years of age with a variety of problems with food choice including disordered eating, weight difficulties or gastrointestinal problems.
Food means different things to us all. For teens 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 teens find difficult to understand. I can help individuals and families manage food-related problems, and hopefully come to understand if there are underlying emotional issues which might need addressing. I do this 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; for teens this may be particularly important, as they may wish to share difficult or troubling information. As a health professional I am obliged to have respect and privacy for the information shared, unless I think they are at serious risk of harm. This is what is meant by confidentiality and consent.
Mindfulness and Wellbeing As far as possible, I approach situations with mindfulness – a technique which increases self awareness and wellbeing. It is an approach which encourages experiencing things as they happen and in non-judgemental way. If we learn to apply this to how we view ourselves and others, it positively influences our physical and emotional world. This simple technique can help us navigate through a variety of every day difficulties and accept things more fully the way they are.