Table 2

Eating behaviour questions50

Questions to start the conversation
  • How have you been feeling in general? How do you feel about yourself?

  • Do you mind if we talk about your eating habits?

Initial critical questions
  • Are there foods or food groups that you avoid eating? How do you feel about dieting in general?

  • How do you feel about your body size?

  • In what ways does your weight affect the way you think about yourself?

  • What percentage of your waking hours do you spend thinking about weight, food and body image?

Diet and dieting
  • Do you worry that you have lost control of how much you eat?

  • Are you happy with your eating behaviour?

  • Do you eat in secret?

  • What did you have for breakfast today/yesterday? Lunch? Dinner? Snacks?

  • Do you count your calories? Watch fat grams? Avoid certain foods?

  • Do you ever eat a lot in one sitting—enough that you feel sick afterward?

  • Are you worried because sometimes you can't stop eating?

  • Do you make yourself throw-up because you feel uncomfortably full?

  • Do you use diuretics, laxatives or diet pills?

Weight and self-perception
  • When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

  • What do you think you should weigh? What are you doing to reach or maintain that weight?

  • Have you recently lost or gained a lot of weight in a short period of time?

  • What was your lowest weight in the last year? Your highest weight?

Exercise and training
  • Do you exercise above and beyond what is required for your sport?

  • Do you feel anxious if you miss a workout?

Family and support
  • Does your family have any history of obesity, eating disorders, depression, mental illness or substance abuse (parents or other family members)?

  • Who are your primary sources of emotional support? How do they support you?

  • Female patients: When did you have your first period? Are your periods regular? When was your last period?

  • Do you have constipation? Diarrhoea?

  • Are you ever dizzy? Weak? Tired? Have you ever fainted?

  • Do you get cold easily?

  • Have you lost any hair? Grown new hair? Do you have dry skin?

  • Do you ever feel bloated? Have abdominal pain?

  • Do you have muscle cramps, bone pain?

  • Consider these questions for engaging patients and their family members in meaningful discussion that can help to identify the eating disorder. Reprinted with permission from Intermountain Healthcare.