Whether in-person or virtually, you’re invited to assess, assess, assess! In school, we clinicians are taught to ask questions—so many questions. We are taught to ask about our patients’ history, their current happenings, and their future hopes and dreams. We are taught to ask about easy things and hard things. We are taught to ask about things that aren’t socially appropriate and would be extremely uncomfortable outside of medical and mental health settings. We are trained to ask questions about substance use, depression, anxiety, suicide, sexual behaviors, and peculiarities of the human body and its functioning.
Yet, so often, we forget to ask questions about one of the things that sustains life: FOOD! We know that to survive, we need to eat. From conception to the moment of death, we are required to consume, in some way, calories that feed and nourish the systems within the body. Why, then, do we shy away from asking questions about this life-giving, life-sustaining human behavior?
Anecdotally, I hear medical and mental health providers say, “We have never had training,” “I don’t know what to ask,” and “I’m not sure what to do if it seems as though there might be a problem.” However, in the same way that we all learned how to ask, respond to, or intervene following questions about suicidal ideation or even substance use, we can all learn to become more comfortable integrating questions about eating disorders into our patient assessments.