OSFED: What it is (and what it isn’t)

What is OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder)?

Previously known as EDNOS or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

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OSFED is an eating disorder that causes sever distress and impairment to one’s life and is characterized by symptoms from one or more eating disorder identified by the DSM-V, but does not fit the complete criteria of another feeding or eating disorder.  These can include Atypical anorexia, infrequent bulimic behavior, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome. Each of these behaviors is serious and warrants professional attention, help and support.

Warning Signs of OSFED

  • Inadequate food intake
  • Fear of weight gain/obsession with weight/persistent behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • Self esteem overly related to body image
  • inability to appreciate the severity of the situation
  • Binge/Purge behaviors within the last three months
  • Feeling out of control during bingeing
  • Feelings of strong shame associated with binge eating
  • Eating alone and hiding food out of shame and embarrassment of eating behaviors.

(Source: National Eating Disorder Association Website)

Health Consequences of OSFED

  • Digestive system damage
  • Severe Dehydration
  • Weakened Muscles
  • Feeling Fatigue/Overall weakness
  • Electrolyte and chemical imbalances (from dehydration and purging) that affect the heart and major organ functions that can lead to irregular heartbeats, possibly heart failure, and death.
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting
  • Tooth decay from stomach acid released during vomiting
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements that can lead to major gastroenterology issues
  • Gastric rupture from binge eating
  • Chronic kidney problems/failure
  • Tears in stomach lining
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Overall mental and emotional instability

(Source: National Eating Disorder Association Website and Alliance for Eating Disorders)

OSFED demystified…

  • False: OSFED is not a “real” eating disorder.

There is a lot of incorrect information out there about OSFED not being a “real” eating disorder. It’s a lie. In fact individuals diagnosed with OSFED often experience many of the same symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and/or binge eating disorder just in a different way. That does not make them any less disordered. This false information sets a lot of people up for failure in terms of getting the help and support that they need.

  • False: OSFED is not life threatening

OSFED is a serious life-threatening mental illness. It is not a phase. It is not done for attention. The behaviors associated with OSFED are driven by distortions in the mind, and is often caused by a multitude of factors (biological, environmental, social, etc.). Each of the behaviors someone battling OSFED impacts their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’re struggling with OSFED don’t let your eating disorder tell you otherwise.

  • False:  There is less treatment for OSFED than other eating disorders.

All treatment centers in the United States that treat individuals with anorexia and bulimia will also treat individuals will OSFED. Honestly, the label is more for insurance purposes and treatment methods than anything else. You are not the label. These facilities are equipped to handle the behaviors that you (or a loved one) struggles with. So even if you don’t see it on the website does not mean they don’t treat OSFED (because they do!)

  • False: Being diagnosed with OSFED (or EDNOS) is a death sentence.

Recovery from any eating disorder is hard (seemingly impossible) but with the right resources and support you can do it. Navigating the healthcare system is challenging to say the least but don’t give up on yourself. Fighting will be the best choice you’ve ever made. People all over the world are fighting this fight with you right now. You are not alone.


Eating disorders do not discriminate.  Any age, sex, ethnicity, class, or culture can have an eating disorder.  The movies stereotype of a white, middle class, vain, and/or college student is far from the truth.

Need resources?

Click Here.

Recovery is possible. #purplelove



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