Due to the complexities of eating disorders, there can be many variations in the typical signs and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. OSFED include eating disorders which do not fit the typical criteria of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. Many people with eating disorders are diagnosed with OSFED due to the large number of variations in symptoms of eating disorders… this group actually includes the majority of individuals with eating disorders. Individuals may also be diagnosed with a ‘partial syndrome’ if, for example, Bulimic episodes do not occur frequently enough to be diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa or a woman has the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa but still has periods (whether irregular or normal).
Examples of OSFED
Regular compensatory behaviours (e.g. vomiting/laxatives/excessive exercise) after only small amounts of food (rather than after bingeing).
Regularly chewing and spitting large amounts of food.
Binge-eating disorder: Recurrent episodes of binge eating without the regular use of compensatory behaviours (e.g. vomiting/laxatives/excessive exercise).
The ‘partial syndromes’ mentioned above.
Symptoms of OSFED
Due to OSFED encompassing many variations of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, the symptoms experienced will vary from person to person and between the variations. However, symptoms MAY include any number of the following:
Have a body weight that is much less or much more than expected for your age and height (depending upon the OSFED you suffer from).
Eat very little, if at all, or restrict types of food, such as any containing fat
Being secretive about food
Cut your food into tiny pieces to look as though you have eaten some, and become obsessed with what other people are eating
Deny being underweight or having a problem with food
Obsessively weigh, measure and examine your body
Have a distorted body image
Be obsessed with exercise
Use appetite suppressants such as diet pills
Make yourself vomit after meals or use laxatives or pills that remove water from your body
Wear baggy clothes to disguise your weight loss
Secretly hoard away food
Be obsessed with exercise
Become secretive and unwilling to socialise
Find it hard to concentrate
Not eat with others or disappear to the toilet after meals to vomit the food you have eaten
Have a binge-purge cycle at least twice a week for three months or more
Have an intense dread of gaining weight
Have frequent weight changes
Be preoccupied with thoughts of food or cravings
Eating much more rapidly than usual
Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
Eating alone because of embarrassment at the quantities of food consumed
Feeling out of control around food
Feeling very self conscious eating in front of others
Feeling ashamed, depressed or guilty after bingeing
Being unable to purge yourself or compensate for the food eaten
Due to OSFED encompassing many variations of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, the complications associated with OSFED will vary from person to person and between the variations. However, complications MAY include any number of the following depending upon the disorder which you suffer from:
Losing hair from your head
Feeling cold all the time
Altered sleeping patterns and insomnia
Constipation, bloating (feeling full) and abdominal (tummy) pain
Puffy face and ankles
Light-headedness and dizziness
Tiredness with aching muscles
Mood swings and restlessness
Delayed puberty (as anorexia affects hormones)
A loss of sexual interest and potency
A sore throat
Irregular periods or periods stop altogether
Severe dehydration, which can cause weakness, fainting or kidney damage
Damage to the heart
Causes of OSFED
The causes of OSFED are not fully understood at present. However, OSFED may develop due to a combination of emotional, physical and social reasons. The precise reasons vary from person to person.
Certain traits are commonly associated with eating disorders including:
Need for control
Feelings of ineffectiveness
Diagnosis of OSFED
Getting help is very important. Admitting that you have a problem is the first, yet hardest, step. If you can take that step, you will find the support and treatment you need to stop your eating disorder taking over your life.