Eating Disorder Awareness Month

With media standards and expectations of the ‘ideal body type’ nearly inescapable, there’s no doubt as to why the prevalence of eating disorders are so high within our society. Anorexia and bulimia are often seen as the only perpetrators when it comes to eating disorders, but what if this food and weight obsession could go farther than what we know? OSFED, or Other Specified Eating or Eating Disorder (previously known as EDNOS, or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) encompasses a greater number of unhealthy relationships with food and body image than anorexia and bulimia can.

This broader range of disorders and unhealthy relationships can seem daunting– if there is such a large number of different disorders, could it be possible that I have one and don’t even know it? Of course, that answer is hard to say. There are always going to be days where you feel a little down, or don’t feel ready to take on the world (and that’s okay!). But if you exhibit a more obsession-related relationship with weight loss- or gain- and food, then the research and resources being gathered from the studies of OSFED mean that there is a broader range of help that can be provided outside of the limited scope of food relationships demonstrated with anorexia and bulimia.

According to NEDA, the DSM-V lists examples of OSFED as atypical anorexia, binge eating disorder, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome. All diagnosis have variances from the diagnosis for anorexia (fear of gaining weight and severe food restriction despite being significantly underweight) and bulimia (recurrent episodes of binging and purging, often accompanied by a sense of lack of control). Atypical anorexia may be specifically difficult to diagnose because it carries all the psychological restrictions of anorexia but does not exhibit significant weight loss, which often can be marked for concern. This is a similar trend for purging disorder, where someone will still engage in purging via vomiting, laxatives, etc. but would not engage in the binging session beforehand. Both of these disorders revolve around restriction and weight loss, but is it possible to still have an eating disorder and gain weight? Yes. Binge eating disorder involves eating past the point of comfort and consuming a large number of calories without intent to later purge them. Binge eating disorder is one that is coming to light more so than other OSFED disorders, as it differs from eating disorders relating to weight loss.

It is important to be educated about unhealthy relationships with our bodies and with the food we eat. Health, above all else, is most important. If you or someone you know is exhibiting an unhealthy or distressful relationship with food or their body, the wellness clinic and the counseling center on campus are great tools to begin the healing process of self-love! Us here at Ask Katie are also always willing to answer your health questions and link you to resources to best help you.  If you want information about treatment off campus, visit your local physician, the Melrose Center (952-993-6200) or the Emily Program (1-888-EMILY-77) which both have a number of different locations in Minnesota and across the country that provide treatment and guidance for a number of different eating disorders.

Regardless of your shape, size, gender, religion, skin color, or any other surface level difference that may make you feel unworthy: you are beautiful. You are special. You deserve health and happiness. The month of February, practice self-love and acceptance in the spirit of national eating disorder awareness!

Golden, C. (n.d.). Classifying eating disorders – DSM-5. Retrieved February 3, 2017, from https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorders/what-is-an-eating-disorder/classifying-eating-disorders/dsm-5

Melrose Center – St. Paul, MN. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.parknicollet.com/Locations/Specialty-Centers/Melrose-Center-St-Paul

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/other-specified-feeding-or-eating-disorder

The Emily Program Locations For Client Services In Minnesota. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.emilyprogram.com/locations/minnesota

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