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 »