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July 11, 2018

OSFED: The “Other” Eating Disorder Diagnosis

OSFED: The “Other” Eating Disorder Diagnosis

Do you restrict what you eat to small quantities and a narrow variety of foods, but you aren’t sure if it’s anorexia? Do you wake up frequently, feeling you need to eat before you can go back to bed? Do you purge without binge eating? If you are experiencing eating disorder behaviors that don’t quite fall into the categories of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, you may have the eating disorder classified as Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED). Formerly known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), OSFED was developed to encompass conditions that did not meet diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa but were still significant feeding or eating disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Some examples of OSFED include:

  • Atypical anorexia: when someone meets many, but not all, of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. For example, an individual might be restricting food intake but may not meet the low weight criteria.
  • Bulimia nervosa of low frequency and/or limited duration: when an individual binges and purges with less frequency than required for a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa.
  • Binge eating disorder of low frequency and/or limited duration: when someone binges less often than typically seen in binge eating disorder.
  • Purging disorder: when an individual engages in purging but does not engage in binge eating.
  • Night eating syndrome: frequent waking and eating. Can also be when a person engages in excessive food consumption during nighttime.

How Can We Recognize OSFED Symptoms?

The warning signs of OSFED are similar to those of other eating disorders and may include:

  • Skipping meals
  • Developing food rituals
  • Weight loss
  • Preoccupation with food, weight, and body image
  • Excessive exercising
  • Social withdrawal
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep problems

OSFED is the most common category of eating disorders, “represent[ing] an estimated 32% to 53% of all individuals with eating disorders” (“OSFED: The Other Eating Disorder,” 2018).

What is the Impact of the OSFED Eating Disorder?

The health consequences of OSFED depend on the specific disordered eating behaviors present. So, it is typically recommended that OSFED treatment closely mimic the treatment for the eating disorder with which is shares the most characteristics. For example, if someone suffers from atypical anorexia, the treatment used would be similar to treatment used for anorexia nervosa. As with any eating disorder, it is recommended that those experiencing symptoms work with a specialized team consisting of a therapist and dietitian and seek treatment as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of OSFED, please reach out to us at 1-888-363-5977. We would be happy to be a part of your recovery.

How Can You Navigate Through the OSFED Eating Disorder?

Understanding OSFED symptoms and the nuances of the OSFED eating disorder is pivotal for crafting a path toward recovery. The journey may be intricate, given the varied manifestations of OSFED, but with the right support and resources, individuals can navigate through the complexities of OSFED symptoms and behaviors, embracing a path that leads towards healing and recovery. It’s imperative to acknowledge the gravity of OSFED and to ensure that individuals grappling with it receive treatment and support.

Why is Early Intervention Crucial in OSFED Treatment?

Early intervention in OSFED treatment is paramount to prevent the disorder’s escalation and pave the way for a smoother recovery journey. Identifying and addressing OSFED symptoms promptly can mitigate the disorder’s physical and psychological impacts, enhancing the treatment plan’s efficacy. The Emily Program emphasizes the importance of early detection and intervention, providing a supportive environment where individuals can explore and understand their OSFED eating disorder, thereby embarking on a path that is focused on recovery and rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and body image.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing

Muhlheim, L., & Gans, S. (2018, January 20). OSFED: The Other Eating Disorder. Retrieved from

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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