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Do you suffer from Disordered Eating?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, cultural or racial background is. It is estimated that there are thirty-million people in the US with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not simply about food. They can be about difficult or painful feelings which you are finding hard to face. Focusing on food can be a way of disguising these problems, even from yourself.

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)

OSFED means you have symptoms of an eating disorder, but you don’t fit into the current diagnostic categories for anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. You could have a mixture of symptoms from different eating disorders. This does not mean that your illness is less serious.

  • Emotional overeating
    You turn to food when you have negative feelings if you are an emotional overeater. These can be feelings like anxiety or sadness. Eating food may help you to feel comforted. Lots of people use food to help manage feelings, this is normal. But it may become a problem if this is the only management technique that you have, or you are beginning to feel out of control. Emotional overeating can cause feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Pica
    With pica, you eat non-food objects such as chalk, paint, stones and clothing. There is no nutritional benefit from eating these items and some can be harmful. Pica can lead to further health concerns such as dental and stomach problems.
  • Rumination disorder
    You will chew and spit out food without swallowing it if you have rumination disorder. You may do this over and over again.
  • Selective eating disorder (SED)
    You will only eat certain foods and may refuse to try other foods if you have SED. This is common in young children. But the problem can continue into adulthood. An eating disorder is a mental illness. If you have an eating disorder you will have difficult relationship with food and may use food to manage your feelings. This may be eating too much or too little. You may become obsessed with food and you’re eating patterns.
  • Orthorexia, or orthorexia nervosa
    Is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia mostly revolves around food quality — not quantity. People with orthorexia are generally not focused on losing weight.

While OSFED may not be as well-known as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, it is nevertheless serious and requires treatment. Many people with eating disorders do not meet the precise criteria established by the APA in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Before the DSM-5 – the fifth edition of the manual – was published in 2013, eating disorders that did not meet the manual’s criteria were classified as EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

Symptoms of OSFED

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, the following are examples of symptoms that would result in a diagnosis of OSFED:

  • Atypical anorexia, in which all of the criteria for anorexia are met, but the individual’s weight is within or above the “normal” range.
  • Bulimia nervosa (of low frequency and/or limited duration) in which all of the criteria is met for bulimia nervosa, except that the patient uses inappropriate compensatory behaviors less frequently and for a shorter amount of time than the DSM criteria specify.
  • Binge eating disorder, with binging taking place less frequently than the DSM criteria specify (at least once a week for at least three months).
  • Purging disorder, in which a person purges without the presence of binge eating.
  • Night eating syndrome, which is excessive consumption of food after dinner or during the middle of the night.

Warning Signs of OSFED

Individuals suffering from OSFED may exhibit disturbed eating habits and an intense fear of weight gain. Physical signs may include weight loss, gain and/or fluctuation; dehydration; a compromised immune system due to nutrient deficiency; and, in females, amenorrhea, which is the absence of a menstrual period. Psychological signs often include a preoccupation with food and body shape. Some have a distorted body image. Dieting, eating food at unusual times or in a ritualistic manner and compulsive exercising are also some behavioral signs of OSFED.

Health Risks of OSFED

Some people believe that OSFED is less serious than better-known eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. However, OSFED poses significant risks to a person’s medical and mental health that are equally as serious, ranging from osteoporosis to heart conditions. It can also lead to death if left untreated.
Many people with OSFED have other co-occurring conditions, such as depression, severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Individuals with eating disorders like OSFED are also more likely than the general population to have issues with drug or alcohol abuse.

Please take a moment to review this self-assessment quiz for OSFED:

  • Do you feel upset or guilty if you skip working out?
  • Do you try to burn as many calories as you eat?
  • Do you only eat healthy, clean or pure foods?
  • Do you feel anxious after or before eating?
  • Are you comfortable eating in front of others?
  • Do you hide or horde food in your car, closet or in the back of cupboards?
  • Are you preoccupied with defects or flaws in your physical appearance that others do not see?
  • Do you wake up from your sleep and eat even after your evening meal?
  • Do you feel out of control as if you can’t stop once you begin eating?
  • Do you feel shameful about your eating habits?
  • Do you use food to cope with emotion?

If you answered yes to any of these, or maybe only one that causes you concern, it might be time to take a closer look at your mental and physical health. Healthy Counseling Center offers hope for those that suffer and instill hope in finding a happy relationship with food and your body.