Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)
When we think of eating disorders, images of ultra-thin bodies or binge-purge cycles often come to mind. But did you know that there are other eating disorders that don’t fit into the neat categories of better-known conditions like binge eating disorder or compulsive eating?
OSFED is a hidden but devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. OSFED can affect your health, happiness and ability to study, work and live a normal life. If you are suffering from OSFED, it can be a lonely place but it is important to know there is help available. Banbury Lodge has helped many people overcome OSFED and we can help you too.
What is OSFED?
OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) or EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) as it was previously called refers to a range of eating disorders that share common symptoms but do not meet the criteria for a specific disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. For example, OSFED may include binge eating without purging, restricting food intake while still maintaining a relatively normal body weight or engaging in purging behaviours without bingeing afterwards.
Like all forms of behavioural addiction, it is believed that OSFED can develop from a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors such as low self-esteem, mental health issues, perfectionism, underlying trauma and stress. The onset of OSFED can also be triggered by diet culture and societal pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.
Do I have OSFED?
Recognising OSFED symptoms early is crucial in order to get the help you need. If you are not sure whether you have OSFED, see if you recognise any of these OSFED symptoms below:
- Binge eating followed by purging or other compensatory behaviours such as fasting or excessive exercise
- Restricting food intake
- Feelings of guilt or shame around food
- Obsessive thoughts about food, weight and body image
- Fatigue, weakness and dizziness due to hunger
- Irregular periods or loss of menstruation
- Anxiety and mood swings around food
- Dry skin, hair loss and brittle nails
- Obsessing over calories or other nutritional content of food
Any and all combinations of these could point to common OSFED symptoms so if you are exhibiting these signs or behaviours, we advise you to seek help as soon as possible.
What are the effects of OSFED?
OSFED can have a severe impact on physical and mental health, depending on the associated behaviours. Some common health effects include:
- Stomach and intestinal problems
- Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to heart problems
- Decreased bone density, leading to osteoporosis
- Anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders
- Difficulty concentrating and functioning in daily life
- Menstruation issues and infertility
- Dangerous weight loss or gain and the associated conditions
- Organ damage and failure
- Suicidal thoughts
In addition to the health effects, OSFED can also:
- Make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends
- Cause sufferers to isolate themselves and avoid social activities
- Interfere with work or school performance
With such serious effects, getting help for OSFED as soon as possible can greatly improve your health, happiness and overall quality of life.
Spotting OSFED in a loved one
It can be very difficult to spot OSFED symptoms in a loved one because many people with the condition try to hide it. If you suspect that someone you love may have OSFED/EDNOS, here are some signs to look out for:
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Preoccupation with food, weight and body image
- Avoiding eating with others
- Secretive behaviour around food and eating
- Excessive exercise or unusual behaviours after eating
- Always going to the bathroom after eating
It is important to note that while these could be OSFED symptoms, they may also be signs of another issue. If you spot any of these in a loved one, it is always best to have a conversation with them to find out the reality of the situation and offer your help.
Tips for speaking to a loved one about OSFED
If you are concerned about a loved one who may be struggling with OSFED/EDNOS, it can be difficult to know how to approach the subject. Here are some tips for having a supportive and productive conversation:
Be gentle and non-judgmental
People with OSFED often feel a lot of shame and guilt about their eating habits and body image, so it is important to approach the subject with sensitivity and understanding. Avoid blaming or accusing them and instead offer your love and support.
Listen to their perspective
Allow your loved one to express their thoughts and feelings about their relationship with food and how they see their bodies. Listen actively and try to understand their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
Educate yourself about OSFED
Before having the conversation, do some research about OSFED (reading this page is a great start!) and understand the signs and symptoms of the disorder. This will help you have a more informed and productive conversation.
Encourage them to seek professional help
Let your loved one know that OSFED is a treatable condition and that professional help is available. Show them this page or support them in calling Banbury Lodge and we can help explain their options.
Be patient and persistent
It may be difficult for your loved one to recognise or accept they need OSFED help. Be patient and persistent in your efforts to support them, and remind them that you are there for them.
Take care of yourself
Caring for a loved one with OSFED can be emotionally draining, so it is important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure to practise self-care and seek support from friends, family, or a medical professional if needed.
Remember, the most important thing you can do for a loved one struggling with OSFED is to offer them your love, support, and encouragement. With the right help, they can recover and live a healthy, fulfilling life.
What does OSFED treatment involve?
OSFED treatment requires a multi-disciplinary approach to address any and all underlying factors that have led to the condition. This is best done through comprehensive rehab treatment which will help to identify the causes, develop a healthier relationship with food and eating and help you to learn new ways of coping with difficult aspects of your life.
OSFED treatment at Banbury Lodge typically involves a combination of therapy and nutritional support. Our OSFED treatment programmes include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps you identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviours related to food, body image and self-esteem.
- Dialectical Behavioural therapy (DBT) – DBT is a type of therapy that combines CBT and mindfulness techniques to help you manage intense emotions, improve self-acceptance and build a positive self-image.
- Family therapy – This involves working with your family to help support your OSFED recovery. Family therapy aims to strengthen the family bond, educate loved ones on OSFED, improve communication and relationships and promote healthy eating habits.
- Group therapy – Group therapy provides a supportive environment where you can share your experiences and connect with others who are also struggling with different conditions. This helps create a sense of community and allows you to learn from other people’s experiences.
- Nutrition education – Our in-house nutritionist will provide education and guidance on healthy eating habits, including information about balanced meals, portion control and healthy body image.
In addition, Banbury Lodge also offers a range of recreational and holistic activities, such as yoga and mindfulness exercises, to support physical and mental well-being.
Aftercare is an essential part of the recovery process and it can play a critical role in preventing relapse and maintaining the gains made during treatment. At Banbury Lodge, we offer one year of free weekly group sessions to help you make a smooth transition from OSFED rehab back to the real world. These group sessions provide a supportive environment where you can connect with others who are also in recovery, share your experiences and receive continued guidance and support.
How can you prevent OSFED relapse?
Preventing OSFED relapse requires ongoing commitment and effort. Here are some tips that can help:
- Continuously work on developing healthy coping skills and behaviours
- Stay engaged in therapy or support groups
- Develop and maintain healthy relationships with friends and family
- Focus on self-care, including exercise, good nutrition and restful sleep
- Identify and address triggers that may contribute to disordered eating patterns
- Avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on self-acceptance and self-compassion
It is also important to seek help immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of relapse, as early intervention can help prevent the relapse from becoming more severe.
How to get OSFED help
If you or someone you love is struggling with OSFED/EDNOS, Banbury Lodge is here to help. Our team of experts provides a safe and supportive environment to help you overcome your condition and achieve lasting OSFED recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our OSFED treatment programme and how we can help you take the first step towards recovery.