Archive for 2018

Intuitive Eating

Guest post: Holly Anderson, MS Nutrition student at University of Washington and

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Fellow in Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital

 

Today, the social and environmental influences surrounding food and body image make it increasingly difficult for anyone to have a normal relationship with food. Take those pressures and add to them the many variables of adolescence: confusion related to the physical changes that come with puberty, insecurities with body image and/or self, bullying, body comparisons, messages from friends/family, etc. Suddenly, it’s no wonder adolescents may feel inclined to make misguided or unhealthy changes to their eating patterns in hopes of changing their bodies. Such changes can result in disordered eating patterns, preoccupation with food, distorted body image, and/or concerning weight loss/gain.

As a future nutrition professional with an aspiration of working with adolescents, this is a topic I think about every day. How can we debunk nutrition myths and negative societal influences and instead encourage body kindness and food freedom? The best answer I’ve found is an extremely fundamental but important concept known as intuitive eating. Intuitive eating, developed and made popular by two registered dietitians, is a gentle approach to nutrition, which encourages attainment of a healthy relationship with food through learning to respond to our bodies natural hunger and fullness cues. Young children are actually the best models of intuitive eating; however, as they grow up and are increasingly exposed to diet culture, societal messaging about an unrealistic body ideal in our country, and the other influences during adolescence mentioned above, those intuitive eating tendencies can be easily lost in the shuffle. Read full post »

Important conversations to have with your teen about intimacy

Parents often ask me for advice regarding sex and reproductive health. Many times this involves speaking with me separately from their teen and informing me they found a condom in a pocket or their teen has been in a long term relationship and they think they may be sexually active. Most parents are worried about pregnancy, some are concerned about sexually transmitted infections. For all, I also bring up some topics that aren’t always as obvious, but are just as important. In this post, we’ll discuss important conversations to have with teens about sex and relationships in addition preventing pregnancy and STD’s.

With the #metoo movement that is sweeping social media and the convictions of sexual assault by prominent men in Hollywood, the medical community, and other areas, people who have experienced sexual harassment and assault are beginning to have a voice. Unwanted sexual contact by anyone (regardless of gender) is criminal. Unfortunately, our culture is full of examples where (mainly) female bodies are objectified as sexual objects in movies, commercials, music lyrics, and music videos. The message this sends to youth (and adults) is that the body of whomever we’re attracted to is there for our pleasure. It also sends a message that those who experience harassment and/or assault are at fault or should keep quiet. This needs to change!

I counsel all teens on the importance of consent and mutual respect in any relationship in addition to pregnancy and STD prevention. As more and more parents are pulling me aside to ask for advice, I’m adjusting my counseling to them as well.

Read full post »

Screenagers and the impact of digital devices on the family

I have 2 small children, but already the number of screens in my household outnumber the people! Though there are benefits to digital hand held devices (we use them for reading, counting, learning Spanish, looking up recipes, etc), my view is that nothing can replace the impact of face-to-face time interacting with other human beings. Maybe I’m old fashioned? I’m from the unique generation that grew up with computers, but also remembers a time before the internet.

There is growing body of research describing potential impacts on child development when exposed to media. This includes problematic internet usage, virtual violence, depression and mental health, and attention.

In the documentary Screenagers, Dr. Delaney Ruston explores screens and today’s teens. This documentary was engaging, at times scary, and very real.

Here are the tips I took from the film:

Social media impacts the brain –  dopamine release and pleasure is a normal function of the brain when seeking information and finding it. This is constantly occurring when we check our phone to look for texts, instant messages, and alerts on social media. It’s no wonder we can’t put our phones away.

No one can actually multitask – you can shift attention rapidly, but the cost is poor performance in what you are trying to accomplish. Read full post »