According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 28 million people will experience an eating disorder throughout their lifetime. While eating disorders affect more women than men, early intervention and formal treatment are quintessential to improving the health and well being of any individual.
The National Institute of Mental Health cites binge eating disorder as the most common eating disorder in the United States. However, there are many other types of eating disorders, one of which is referred to as other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED). Despite the severe adverse impact of this disorder, OSFED is commonly overlooked, misunderstood, and ineffectively treated.
What Is OSFED?
Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) refers to a class of eating disorders that aren't seen as serious as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. However, this is not to say that formal treatment is unnecessary. In fact, treatment is highly indicated for this disorder, particularly to ensure that the level of acuity does not worsen.
Historically, OSFED was not covered by most insurance policies; however, this has begun to change, as research continues to support the notion that eating disorder treatment for OSFED improves the quality of one’s life, health, and functioning.
OSFED can include:
Night eating syndromeThis disorder is categorized as people who wake up during the night to eat or who eat an inordinate amount of food after their final daily meal. This disorder involves recurrent episodes of night eating.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of OSFEDs?
OSFED can be a confusing diagnosis as it encompasses a myriad of symptoms and functional impairments. Furthermore, OSFED can manifest differently from one individual to the next. While the list of potential symptoms is extensive, it is not exhaustive. If you, someone you know, or a loved one suffers from any of these symptoms, they should be encouraged to seek an evaluation to determine if formal treatment is necessary.
Here are some signs to consider:
- Inappropriate attitudes or behaviors about the person's weight or dieting
- Problems sleeping
- Dry nails or skin
- Violent mood swings
- Cold hands and feet
- Swelling in the hands and feet
- Uses excess clothing to hide body
- Drinks excessive amounts of water or diet soft drinks
- Fainting or dizziness
- Dental issues
- Hoards food and keeps it in strange locations
- Extreme exercise
- Claims to never be hungry even if the person hasn't eaten in a long period
- Missed menstrual cycles
- Fine hair on the body
- Thinning hair
- Yellow skin
- Wounds that don't heal in a normal amount of time
- Secretly eats
- Constantly looks in the mirror for problems with their appearance
- Weight fluctuates up and down
Can OSFEDs Be Dangerous?
Simply stated: yes, OSFEDs can be dangerous for anyone struggling with the associated symptoms. All variations of OSFED are serious mental health disorders and most often require treatment. While historically, OSFED has been considered less severe than other eating disorders, it is now well understood that many of the same adverse outcomes and dangers result from OSFED as with other types of eating disorders.
When a person lacks a healthy relationship with food, they aren't receiving the proper nutrients, and this can cause a plethora of physical and mental health-related issues, thus this condition should be taken seriously.
What Are the Benefits of OSFED Treatment?
- Achieve a healthy relationship with food
- Maintain healthy eating habits and proper nutrition
- Develop an understanding of healthy exercise
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
- Gain appreciation and acceptance for one’s body regardless of shape or size
- Develop healthy coping methods to contend with stress, eating disorder urges, and compulsive behaviors
- Explore the origin and factors that contributed to the development of your struggle with OSFED
- The opportunity to build a support network
The benefits of the treatment for OSFEDs can vary from one person to the next, but most patients that recover from an eating disorder enjoy healthy relationships and enjoy life. To receive the benefits of treatment, the person struggling with OSFED must work hard and partner with the right treatment providers and program.
Learn More About OSFEDs With the Kahm Center
When a person is struggling with OSFED or has a loved one who is struggling, comprehensive, individualized treatment can be life changing for the individual. It is well understood that eating disorders have both short-term and long-term consequences, and early intervention (treatment) can minimize the adverse impact of OSFED and maximize the individual's quality of life.
At the Kahm Center, we offer treatment for OSFED and approach each patient as a unique individual. In addition to traditional eating disorder treatment, our program incorporates cutting-edge interventions, including metabolic testing, body composition analysis, weekly individualized therapy sessions, weekly consultation with dietitians, and comprehensive meal planning. All of these services are provided to our patients in an environment that is safe, supportive, and confidential.
Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Clinically Reviewed By
Nick Kahm, PhD
Nick Kahm, a former philosophy faculty member at St. Michael's College in Colchester, VT, transitioned from academia to running the Kahm Clinic with his mother. He started the clinic to train dietitians in using Metabolic Testing and Body Composition Analysis for helping people with eating disorders. Now, he is enthusiastic about expanding eating disorder treatment through the Kahm Center for Eating Disorders in Vermont.