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Updated: Feb 11, 2022

It's amazing what we can do with our imagination, something we do really easily as a child. I remember collecting my grandson from school, he and his friend were playing in the trees just outside the school, a small area of about a dozen trees with some bushes and undergrowth. They were having a fabulous time, they found some sticks and were using these to push their way through the branches. After a while a few others arrived, “what are you doing?” they said. Exploring a jungle was the reply.

Our imagination can be used for many things some of them just as wonderful as the games created by children at play; and sometimes our imagination creates bad feelings, fears and anxieties that can interfere with our wellbeing both physical and mental.

I spoke to a 16 year old girl the other day whose diet was extremely limited. She lived off bread, potatoes, chocolate, (chocolate always seems to be an acceptable food choice with limited diets) and diary produce (milk, cheese, butter). She didn’t eat vegetables or fruit – she could eat tomato ketchup (that’s another substance that seems to get through), creamed tomato soup and orange juice.

Her GP sent her to a dietician, who like most dieticians proceeded to tell her what she should be eating ..........

She knows what she should be eating, but she doesn’t want to. Ever since she was a very small child she has had a problem with her food. Apparently as a toddler she nearly choked on something and from here decided that certain foods should never be eaten. She wont eat anything with lumps for example, and the food that she does eat she chews for ages before swallowing – this means that each meal takes an age.

When I asked her if she had eaten any soft fruits, I was surprised to find out that apparently raspberries had huge pips which made them difficult to eat. I hadn’t noticed. And eating a grape was like eating a blister. YUCK I thought that would definitely put me off.

Her strategy for avoiding food, was to create a disgusting association to each product she avoided. Her imagination had run wild for years stopping her from eating many foods.

A lot of people problems are caused by what they are imagining, things are rarely seen as they are but rather as they think they are.

For example:

1. Fear of public speaking, the speaker imagining the audience thinking negatively of them and,

2. Social anxiety – imagining that others will think they are stupid, unlikeable etc

By learning how to control the thought processes you learn how to take control of your feelings and actions.

Teaching the teenager how to make different associations with food has opened up her diet. Of course there is still a teenage brain to contend with and whilst she now has more choice, she doesn’t always choose what’s good for her.

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