Different Types of OSFED

Different types of OSFED

What is OSFED? Understanding the most common eating disorder that so few have heard about.

OSFED, or more formally known as Other Specific Feeding and Eating Disorder impacts upwards of 50% of those suffering from an Eating Disorder, yet it is commonly met with confusion. Eating disorders are on a spectrum, with a lot of room between the three primary eating disorder diagnoses of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. What happens to those who fill the space in-between? Those who display signs of some, but not all? Or those who display behaviours of all, but not with enough severity to warrant a stand-alone diagnosis? The space in between is occupied by those who don’t fit tidily into a specific definition, but are still deserving of compassion, respect, and attention. Those who occupy this space are bravely suffering from OSFED. With staggering statistics like 50% of those with eating disorders have OSFED, it is abundantly clear and should absolutely be repeated that you are most certainly not alone. Although you may have previously lived in a space filled with confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety, that is not a place you need to stay in forever. Recovery, although time intensive and energy consuming, will always be worth it in the end.

What is OSFED?

OSFED is an eating disorder wherein the individual displays behaviours and features similar to Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. However, the individual does not meet all the diagnostic requirements to receive any one of these specific eating disorder diagnoses. OSFED casts a wide net in order to capture those who struggle and are suffering, yet unable to acutely identify with a specific eating disorder.  

What are the types of OSFED?

As mentioned, OSFED casts a wide net and is also referred to as an umbrella term, which means it encompasses a variety, instead of focusing on a specific. There are three different types of OSFED. They are as follows:


  • Pica refers to a disorder in which individuals consume substances or objects which are not intended to be consumed, with no nutritional value. Examples being soap, paint, paper. The individual also consumes standard food, and not just that which is unintended to be eaten. 

  Rumination Disorder

  • A condition that causes individuals to regurgitate their food before it has been digested. Food made be solid, or partially solid leading the individual to re-chew and re-swallow or to spit out.

  Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

  • A disorder wherein an individual avoids and/or restricts particular foods, and/or the amount they consume. This may sound like a partial definition of Anorexia, however those with ARFID do not avoid as a result of the fear associated with gaining weight. They avoid because of sensitivities to taste, texture, and smell, traumatic experiences around food, or having a low interest in food.

What is OSFED treatment?

Eating disorders are all unique, however the treatment for them follows a similar structure for all. There are generally two phases of treatment, which is the same for those with OSFED. If the individual is in a medically unstable condition, it is necessary the individual be brought to a stable state before the rest of treatment can begin. When the individual is stable enough, the second stage of treatment can begin, therapy. Eating disorders, OSFED included, are mental illnesses. It can take years with a trained professional to untangle the complicated knot that living with an eating disorder has created. However, a future free of eating disorders is a substantial benefit for all the work that is required. 

Related Article: Signs and Symptoms of OSFED


Q: What falls under OSFED? 

A: Behaviours that are similar to Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder, but do not meet the criteria to receive a diagnosis of these disorders falls under OSFED. Examples are:

  • Signs of Anorexia, but the individual has a weight that is slightly above the weight threshold
  • Engages in infrequent binging and purging
  • Singularly obsessed with weight and gaining weight, while not engaging in any other behaviours
  • Purging behaviour, without the prior binging behaviour

Q: Is EDNOS and OSFED the same?

A: Yes. OSFED as a diagnosis has replaced OSFED. EDNOS stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Q: What is the difference between OSFED and UFED?

A: The difference between OSFED and UFED is that UFED specifically relates to the similarities one may have with Anorexia and Bulimia, whereas OSFED is inclusive of similarities amongst more eating disorders, such as Binge Eating Disorder. 

Dr. Natalie Mulligan graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). She completed her clinical internship at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic with a focused interest in mental health. Prior to attending CCNM, she completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo.