Teenage Nutriton

food for thought

fancy a coffee?

Why not make some time to talk to a friend or someone you trust or even a professional (like me) about your food worries? Ruminating over problems or ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. Its good to find the time and the words to talk about things, find a different perspective, or some useful ideas. Sometimes you might need a little more structured help that that? That’s OK. Life’s not perfect, you’re not expected to be perfect either! Fancy a coffee?


signs of damaging eating behaviour

knowing when to seek help when you are worried about food restriction and weight loss is a very good idea. How many of these statements sound like you?

  • I can’t stop thinking about food, but can’t eat it
  • I have rules about my food intake that I get anxious about if I can’t follow
  • if I do break my rules, then I need to restrict better tomorrow
  • I feel upset if I cannot exercise to burn up some extra calories
  • I sometimes make myself sick because I have eaten too much and feel fat
  • I feel fat when I eat because my tummy feels bloated
  • sometimes when I feel low, I start eating and can’t stop
  • when I can’t stop eating, it feels good at first, then I just feel thumb and then I feel really bad, but I keep doing it

If you have answered yes to several of these statements above, you may well be developing an eating disorder. Ask for help. In the first instance make an appointment and see your GP, who will talk you through what to do. If you need more help planning your diet, contact Carine using the contact form, or if you want to talk anonymously contact B-EAT – the UK charity for supporting people affected by eating disorder.

Have a look or download this page to remind you about the differences between normal eating and disordered eating …

vegan delights

turmeric & coconut dahl
with roasted
mediterranean vegetables

I never thought i’d be saying this, say 5 years ago, but I am loving vegan cooking. That’s not to say I never eat meat, but prefer to eat much much less these days. Strangely, or actually – reality check – when I’ve known the animal I feel differently about choosing to eat it. Near when I live, on Stourbridge Common, the beautiful cows graze, and I have become very fond of them – perhaps one day I will stop eating meat altogether … until then I will be flexitarian … anyway I wanted to share a vegan recipe which my teens at home LOVE! Listen, share, cook or save the recipe below and check out the nutrition profile!

nutritional profile

Key nutrients in the is dish, assuming a standard portion size of 250g and comprising against standard teenage dietary needs for key nutrients.

Rich in fibres, antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins, magnesium – this is a filling meal, who cares about the calories! don’t forget that teens needs about 2000- 2800 daily. Make your calories count. Ok, we do have to think about calories sometimes – estimated 500kcals, 22g protein.

gender specific nutrient needs

Let’s get down to gender specific nutrient needs; the big thing is the massive teenage growth spurt, peaking for girls around age 12 ½ and in boys in their 14th year. Bone length and height increase rapidly, and even when adult height is reached, teenage bones need to continue increasing in density and strength.  A staggering 50% of the skeleton weight is formed during the years that follow this massive growth spurt, relying absolutely on sufficient calcium and vitamin D. This is THE most important vitamin and mineral combination needed for bone growth. The other key mineral that really matters (for teen girls in particular) is iron. With the onset of menstruation girls’ needs for iron are twice that of boys, but ironically, around half teenage girls have very low intakes of iron and a growing number have iron deficiency anaemia. It’s so important to know the good sources of these nutrients, and for iron, the issues around bioavailability and iron absorption. Girls generally have lower intakes of a range of nutrients than boys of the same age and it remains true that girls will restrict food intake in pursuit of a lower body weight.

vegan balance

Getting the correct vegan balance of essential amino acids, AKA the individual building block that form large molecules of protein, depends on eating the correct mix of plant proteins. Called essential because the body is unable to make these nutrient itself. And because of the vital functions proteins/amino-acids play in day-to-day growth and repair of all parts of our physical body.

healing food help

Has food become a real problem for you? Whether you spend every waking minute obsessing about it – but very little time actually eating it? Or perhaps you can’t remember eating the large amount of food you consumed in a binge the previous night? If this feels like you, then you do need help. And you do need healing. And you most certainly do need food. Don’t put it off – get in touch with someone who can help. And check out these links …

What is binge eating disorder?

I think I may have anorexia?

The scales never lie – or do they?

GI problems – functional or medical

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a functional problem, as is FAP (functional abdominal pain). These are umbrella terms for a collection of gut symptoms that have no obvious cause upon investigation. Medical causes of gut problems that respond well to dietary changes (and are often the only available treatment) include coeliac disease, lactose intolerance and food sensitivity.

immune function in the gut

The gut makes up a significant part of our immune system with its protective barrier, cell structures and bacterial colonies (microbiota) unique to each individual.  A poorly functioning barrier system, may allow swallowed and potentially harmful bacteria or viruses and also food proteins to sneak across the barrier into the blood system. This increased susceptibility, activates the immune system causing inflammation. This poor barrier function happens when the lining of the gut becomes weakened and inflamed and the usual tight junctions between gut cells are compromised, increasing susceptibility to immune activation and viral infection. Eating a diverse, fresh and balanced diet is one of the most powerful ways to support our immune system. Both by providing functional nutrient components directly eg. vitamins and minerals; indigestible fibres to provide fuel for the beneficial microbes in our gut and by influencing conditions in the gut, which benefit from a slightly acid environment.

More brain receptors are found in the gut than anywhere else in the body, and communicate with the brain and the rest of the body, using the enteric nervous system or the gut-brain axis.  The gut is responsive not only to nutrient absorption, the passage of bacteria and viruses but to other stimuli like thoughts, feelings and anxieties. Mood, concentration and wellbeing are all influenced by what and how we eat.  Physical symptoms experienced in the gut when responding to emotions or stresses, can of course influence our eating behaviour and choices – both consciously and unconsciously.  During puberty and the teenage years, a time linked with increasing pressure, and more recently significant changes in mental health and wellbeing, emotional issues can present as physical problems and vice versa. Gut feelings and ongoing negative emotions alter the gut microbiotia significantly, and changes the delicate balance of beneficial species like the bifidobacteria and lactobacillus genus, allowing more opportunitic bacteria to multiply, producing a range of effects: reducing tight junctions between cells fires

emotional regulation in the gut

Serotonin is the brains busiest neurotransmitter and responsible for our feelings of wellbeing; moderating our appetite, sleep, mood and pain. Predominantly produced in the gut and made from the amino acid tryptophan, serotonin regulates our mood by sending messages to the brain via the neural network we call the gut-brain axis. Tryptophan is found in high protein foods like milk, eggs, salmon, turkey, duck, beef, nuts, beans, seeds and oats. As well as making serotonin, tryptophan also makes its sibling substance melatonin, the hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle. People with depression typically have low levels of serotonin; depression also being linked with gastrointestinal problems like IBS, appetite dis-regulation as well as poor sleep. A growing body of scientific evidence on gut microbiome research, indicates that the gut-brain axis, and specifically keystone species of bacteria of the bifidobacteria and lactobacillus genus, have a significant positive impact on mental health, via the biosynthesis of serotonin from food proteins. The production of serotonin in the gut is negatively impacted by poor diets, particularly those with low diversity of fibres, and high intakes processed carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol. Absorbed into the enteric nervous system (neural network) and transported to the brain, the bioprotein and neurotransmitter serotonin also connects to the old idea of “we are what we eat”. Who would have thought that our gut bugs – AKA these beneficial keystone species – were in a BIG way responsible for this? Amazing Science! It’s what I like to think of as the missing link. And so, not only is nutrition supportive for the tissues, fluids and organs of the body, we are starting to see that what we eat and it’s interaction with our gut bugs has an crucial role in modulating our mood, our emotions and supporting our mental wellbeing.

what does normal eating feel like?

Maybe you have been avoiding foods that you think are unhealthy or that you don’t want to eat for a quite while now, and are asking yourself this question? what does normal eating feel like? perhaps you find yourself thinking about food all the time, but not knowing what to choose? what are you saying to yourself, or what are others saying (or not saying) to you about your food choices? Making sense of this can be a bit overwhelming for some people and getting it right feels a bit tricky – here’s some ideas that I hope will help you to feel more easeful about food choice … Check them out … and share what you think… and remember what normal eat feels like.

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