The media portrays eating disorders in a pretty narrow view. While most people have heard of anorexia and bulimia, those two clinical diagnoses are actually much less common than Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED). Anorexia Nervosa is diagnosed in 1 in 200 adults, but at least 5% of adults, and up to 10% of teen girls have eating disorder symptoms that can be identified as OSFED.
Here are some of the signs of OSFED that you should look for in your child:
- Intense fear of weight gain
- Feelings of shame and guilt based on body size or weight
- Obsessive dieting and restricting food
- Cutting out entire food groups
- Binge eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time
- Purging, which may include vomiting, laxative use, or over-exercising to compensate for food intake
- Feelings of shame and guilt based on eating behavior
- Fear of certain foods
If you have a child who is diagnosed with OSFED, here are some things you should know:
- OSFED is just as dangerous as other types of eating disorders, and requires treatment
- Many people who have OSFED believe they are “not sick enough,” which leaves their disorder under-treated, setting them up for a lifetime eating disorder
- People who have OSFED may be at a normal weight, but they are suffering nutritional deficiencies due to their eating disorder behavior
- People who have OSFED may weight cycle. Since our culture values thinness, this means that people who have OSFED will be rewarded when they lose weight in an unhealthy manner, and they will feel like a failure when they gain weight. This cycle can continue indefinitely if the eating disorder is not treated.
If you have a child with OSFED, then you may need to work hard to find the right course of treatment that fits your child’s unique situation and accommodates your financial situation. The most important thing is to recognize that OSFED is serious, and should be treated as soon as possible.
Give these printable worksheets to grow more confident, calm and resilient and feel better, fast!
- Calming strategies
Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to help their kids recover from eating disorders, body image issues, and other mental health conditions. She’s the founder of More-Love.org, an online resource supporting parents who have kids with eating disorders, and a Parent Coach who helps parents who have kids with mental health issues.
Ginny has been researching and writing about eating disorders since 2016. She incorporates the principles of neurobiology and attachment parenting with a non-diet, Health At Every Size® approach to health and recovery.