Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder, and Orthorexia

By January 21, 2022 Parenting

Throughout this blog post, I will discuss the diagnostic criteria, symptoms and warning signs, and ways to help someone struggling with Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Also discussed is Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder and Orthorexia.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

When a person receives a diagnosis of Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) it typically means that they have many of the same symptoms as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and/or binge eating disorder still, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for those eating disorders. OSFED can affect individuals of all ages and genders. Previously, OSFED used to be known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) (National Eating Disorder Association, 2018).

Diagnostic Criteria: Because OSFED has a unique diagnostic criteria with having the same symptoms of other eating disorders, but not meeting the full diagnostic criteria, OSFED might present as the following:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa: when the criteria are met for anorexia nervosa, but the individual’s weight is within or above the normal range. Those with atypical anorexia nervosa have the same physical and psychological complications as anorexia nervosa.
  • Bulimia nervosa of low frequency and/or limited duration: when the criteria are met for bulimia nervosa, but the binge eating and compensatory behaviors occur less than once a week and/or less than three months.
  • Binge eating disorder of low frequency and/or limited duration: when the criteria are met for binge eating, but binge eating occurs less than once a week and/or for less than three months.
  • Purging disorder: when an individual engages in self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives/medications to achieve a certain weight or shape.
  • Night eating syndrome: when an individual engages in eating after waking up or by eating large amounts of food following the evening meal. An individual who struggles with night eating syndrome is aware of the eating.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Below are a few emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms and warning signs. For a complete list, please visit: https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/types/other-specified-feeding-or-eating-disorders/

  • Emotional and Behavioral: Negative body image, secretive behavior around eating, food preference changes, frequent trips to the bathroom during or after meals, and anxiety around mealtimes
  • Physical: Inability to maintain normal body weight, sensitivity to the cold, fatigue, poor immune system, and signs of vomiting.

How to help: The most important way to help someone struggling with OSFED is to reach out for help. OSFED can be ias dangerous and serious as other eating disorders, so receiving help as soon as possible can aid in the recovery process.

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder is similar to OSFED, which is discussed above. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2018), unspecified feeding or eating disorder is typically used in situations when a clinician chooses not to specify the reasoning that the diagnostic criteria is not met for a specific feeding and eating disorder and this can also include having insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis.

According to Ekern, in “Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): Signs and Symptoms,” an individual with UFED can have certain thoughts and behaviors about food and body image, but it is not enough to diagnosis a specific eating disorder as typically, those thoughts and behaviors are not severe enough to cause significant distress.

It is important to note that if an individual receives a diagnosis of UFED, that diagnosis can change as more information is obtained or as symptoms change.


According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2018), orthorexia can fall into the category of the OSFED. It is not recognized in the DSM-5, but there is more and more research and awareness coming to light regarding orthorexia. Someone who may struggle with orthorexia is typically obsessed with healthy and proper eating, defining good and bad foods. It has been shown that many individuals with orthorexia also have OCD. There is no specific treatment plan for orthorexia, but professionals may treat it as anorexia or OCD. Eating healthy and following a diet does not mean someone has orthorexia. Orthorexia may appear when someone becomes fixated and obsessive over eating healthy.

Diagnostic Criteria: Due to orthorexia not being in the DSM-5, there is no formal diagnostic criteria for orthorexia.

Symptoms: Obsessively checking ingredient lists and nutrition labels, cutting out food groups at the same time, thinking about what foods might be served at different events an individual is attending, and distress when healthy foods are not available.

How to help: Connecting someone who has orthorexia to a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be helpful. Due to being fixated on eating healthy and defining what is good and bad, meeting with a dietitian can help explain what foods and why certain foods are beneficial for overall health, even if they think they are unhealthy.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW


Ekern, Baxter. “Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): Signs and Symptoms.” Eating Disorder Hope, 8 Mar. 2016, www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/unspecified-feeding-or-eating-disorder-ufed-signs-and-symptoms.

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 22). Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/unspecified-feeding-or-eating-disorder

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018b, July 30). Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/osfed

National Eating Disorders Association. “Orthorexia.” National Eating Disorders Association, 13 Dec. 2019, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia.




Author ndpostadopt

More posts by ndpostadopt

Leave a Reply