How to handle eating disorders

Dana Moran, Managing Editor

eating disorder tomato plate

Q: How should workers handle a situation in which they suspect a diner has an eating disorder?

A: Because foodservice workers in a dining hall or senior-living facility interact with the same diners on a daily basis, they’re often able to form a closer relationship than if that person were a customer in a restaurant, says Gretchen Matuszak, registered dietitian and director of the didactic program in dietetics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. For that reason, foodservice workers sometimes can be the first line of defense when it comes to spotting and addressing eating disorders.

If an employee does notice the physical and emotional symptoms of an eating disorder—such as dry hair and skin, baggy clothing, returning a full tray or obsessive talk about food—Matuszak advises privately approaching the person or one or their close friends with printed information and a referral to student health-care facilities, a psychologist or nurse or other expert.

Supervisors also may want to have employee support in place due to the potential emotional impact, she says. “It’s such a hard thing to watch,” Matuszak says of eating disorders.

Operators in senior living should focus closely on emotional cues such as isolation and a feeling of hopelessness, because symptoms of depression among that population can be common. Making sure residents have someone to eat with and their favorite comfort foods available can be effective prevention tactics,” Matuszak says.

“If [the residents aren’t] receiving enough help, and no one’s coming to visit them, then [foodservice workers] would be the first ones to see the signs and symptoms,” she says.

Fore more information on eating disorder symptoms and treatment, visit

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The School Nutrition Foundation has named its five School Nutrition Heroes for 2018.

The honorees were nominated by their peers and then selected by the SNF for helping end hunger for homeless and low-income students and their families.

Those chosen are:

Paula Angelucci, child nutrition director, Colonial School District; New Castle, Del. Anthony Terrell, culinary specialist, Shelby County Schools; Memphis, Tenn. April Laskey, director of school nutrition, Billerica Public Schools; Billerica, Mass. Lynne Shore, food service director, Willamina School District;...
Sponsored Content
spring desserts

From Bistro Collection® Gourmet Desserts.

Consumers and operators alike often associate seasonal desserts with pumpkin pie, gingerbread and candy canes—after all, winter is a season closely associated with indulgence.

But after the winter holidays, when people are hitting the gym and holding themselves to New Year’s Resolution diets, desserts don’t get as much attention. For operators, this can mean a lag in sales of sweets—but it’s not a lost cause. Updating springtime dessert menus to reflect the change in what diners are looking for can generate excitement and boost...

Industry News & Opinion

Sidney Central School District in Sidney, N.Y., has received $58,783 from the state to improve its farm-to-school program, The Daily Star reports.

The grant will be used to aid in appointing a farm-to-school coordinator and assistant who will help source local farm products for 10 districts in the region for NY Thursday, an initiative where cafeterias attempt to serve meals made entirely by local ingredients every Thursday.

The funding is part of a $12 million award spread among 12 districts throughout the state by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Read the full story via...

Industry News & Opinion

Denver Public Schools has begun posting cooking videos on its Facebook page in an effort to promote the scratch-made meals served in its cafeterias, Denverite reports.

The video tutorials are set up in a similar way to Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos, showing a pair of hands from above as they prepare a meal to background music. The Colorado district promotes the videos with the hashtag #DPSDelicious.

Read the full story via .

FSD Resources