In my practice as a registered dietitian I help patients who are struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating⁠⁠. On Instagram @AndreaHardyRD, I talk all about the overlap between eating disorders and digestive symptoms.

Does the ‘gut health’ test you’re taking actually measure what we think it’s measuring? How applicable to your health is it? And, does it pose risks you might not even think about? ⁠

The overlap between eating disorders, disordered eating behaviour and digestive symptoms is enormous. ⁠

In seeking answers to their symptoms, many patients get suggested tests like:⁠
> Candida⁠
> IgG⁠
> gut microbiome⁠

The problem with these tests? ⁠

1) They’re not validated – and I have yet to see the results of a single one of these tests not ‘find a problem’⁠

2) They often offer dietary recommendations that are extremely restrictive⁠

3) They’re often prescribed without any screening for disordered eating behaviours or eating disorders. ⁠

When you prescribe a restrictive diet, you are putting someone at risk of disordered eating or an eating disorder.⁠

In fact, around 25% (or more in certain conditions!) of those with GI disorders struggle with disordered eating or eating disorders – which can be brought about by restrictive diet recommendations.⁠

Eating disorders can worsen anxiety, depression and somatization (extreme focusing on pain) – perpetuating symptoms. ⁠

So why in the world are we offering non-validated tests, that pose a great deal of risk to our patients? ⁠

While there’s a lot that goes into test validation, here’s a simple short cut to find out if the test could be validated. ⁠

Ask the practitioner the sensitivity and specificity of the test. This is the tests ability to accurately get a true positive, and accurately get a true negative. If the practitioner can’t describe the limitations of the test, that is a HUGE red flag. ⁠

Screen for eating disorders and disordered eating behaviour when someone comes to your clinic for gut issues! Enough said.