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OSFED: When your child has a non-typical eating disorder

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.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders. She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate eating disorder recovery.

See Our Parent’s Guide To The Different Types Of Eating Disorders

7 thoughts on “OSFED: When your child has a non-typical eating disorder

  1. […] you have a child who has an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia or OSFED, there is a high probability that feelings of anxiety are a major trigger for eating disorder […]

  2. […] Binge Eating Disorder, and Bulimia, along with the most common form of disordered eating, OSFED, are all serious disorders that need to be addressed as quickly as possible to promote full […]

  3. Thank you for writing this post. I think that OSFED (which I believe was previously called EDNOS – are they the same thing?) needs more recognition and people need to be aware that it even exists. I struggled to find help for many years because when I finally did reach out, I would have been considered to have OSFED. My parents were also incredibly not concerned. If people are just given the information and the knowledge, it would be tremendously helpful for parents to be more aware of when their children need help – rather than brushing it off as a “normal” diet.

    1. Hi Melissa, You’re right – OSFED was previously called EDNOS. I’m so sorry to hear that you struggled to find the care you deserved, and hope you have found peace and recovery.

  4. […] in self-driven recovery from an Eating Disorder like Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and OSFED, we understand that they do not “choose” to have the disorder – they are […]

  5. […] in self-driven recovery from an Eating Disorder like Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and OSFED, we understand that they do not “choose” to have the disorder – they are […]

  6. […] you have a child who has an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia or OSFED, there is a high probability that feelings of anxiety are a major trigger for eating disorder […]

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