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Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 3 Dec 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a diagnosis of an eating disorder that does not meet the criteria for a specific category of eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. In fact this diagnosis is often generated in individuals who meet some, but not all, diagnostic criteria for another eating disorder, and are therefore said to have tendencies towards anorexia or bulimia, or are described as having disordered eating.

Signs of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
The signs and symptoms of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified are those of any other eating disorder, just not all of the signs and symptoms required to fully meet a diagnosis of another disorder. The signs and symptoms may also be a combination of those of two or more eating disorders, such as severe restrictions on calories as well as purging after only a small meal or snack. Some common signs of eating disorders include:
  • Obsessive calorie counting and knowledge of calories in almost all foods.
  • Skipping meals, often eating only small snacks instead.
  • “Playing” with or pushing food around a plate rather than eating it.
  • Hiding food (in a napkin, under a plate, etc.) to avoid eating it.
  • Lying about having eaten in an attempt to avoid a meal or snack.
  • Eating only a limited number or type of food.
  • Exercising excessively, particularly after or “to make up for” eating.
  • Binging, or eating a great amount of food in one sitting.
  • Purging, or attempting to get rid of eaten food by inducing vomiting or taking laxatives or diuretics.
  • Hiding the food reserved for binges.
  • Hiding items such as laxatives or diuretics.
  • Ingesting an excessive amount of food, even when not hungry.
  • Eating until uncomfortable or sick.
  • “Grazing” for as long as food is available.
  • Hiding eating habits due to shame or embarrassment.
  • Showing excessive interest in weight, body image and fasting.
Diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified must be diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional, though the only diagnostic guideline is that the individual’s food and eating behaviour meets only some of the diagnostic criteria of other eating disorders.

For instance, an individual who avoids eating, severely limits calories and refuses to eat certain food groups, but still has regular menstrual cycles and is not at least 15% below a healthy body weight may be diagnosed with EDNOS as (s)he can not be fully diagnosed with anorexia (due to the presence of menstrual cycles and a total weight loss that has not yet dipped below 15% of a healthy body weight).

Similarly, an individual who binges and purges every few weeks, or who purges after only small amounts of food, can not be diagnosed with bulimia (which requires binges and purges at least twice a week, and purging after a binge) and so may be diagnosed with EDNOS. Binge eating disorder may also be diagnosed as EDNOS, as may be orthorexia, a disorder in which an individual eats a relatively healthy and appropriate diet but is scared of some food types and refuses to eat them.

Treating Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Once an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is diagnosed, a treatment plan will be drawn up in order to address all of the behavioural signs and symptoms as well as the underlying mental and emotional issues that have contributed to these behaviours. Very often treatment for EDNOS includes individual counselling or talk therapy, family counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy (to change food and eating behaviours), attendance at support groups or group therapy, and nutritional counselling and planning. ENDOS is very rarely treated with medication unless it is prescribed to treat associated conditions such as depression.

Further information on the diagnosis and treatment of EDNOS should be obtained from a GP, private mental health professional or from the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.

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Bianca - Your Question:
I have recently been able to see a doctor about my mental health, and I'm thinking of bringing up EDNOS as a poosible problem that I have alongside my other disorders. I've had disordered eating for years now, but if fluctuates too much to be considered any actual eating disorder. It will switch from periods of binge eating to not eating at all to purging and to excessive exercising. Only a few times has it gotten to the point where my menstrual cycle has been interrupted, and one of those times is now. I'm just sort of wondering if those things even qualify for this though? I show signs of multiple eating disorders but nothing specific, so I think this fits, but I can't be too sure.

Our Response:
It is always good to get advice where needed, even if you are not sure whether or not you have an issue. The very fact you are recognising you could, is a step in the right direction and getting help is the first step on the road to recovery. Wishing you the best in trying to combat this and your other issues.
EatingDisorderExpert - 3-Dec-15 @ 1:42 PM
I have recently been able to see a doctor about my mental health, and I'm thinking of bringing up EDNOS as a poosible problem that I have alongside my other disorders.I've had disordered eating for years now, but if fluctuates too much to be considered any actual eating disorder.It will switch from periods of binge eating to not eating at all to purging and to excessive exercising.Only a few times has it gotten to the point where my menstrual cycle has been interrupted, and one of those times is now.I'm just sort of wondering if those things even qualify for this though?I show signs of multiple eating disorders but nothing specific, so I think this fits, but I can't be too sure.
Bianca - 3-Dec-15 @ 8:09 AM
My son 16 yrs. Refuses to eat any veg or fruit. Only red meat or chicken. Won't eat with anyone. Skips meals. Drinks only fangs or,water. Refuses vitamins. Is sick has diahrroea and won't discuss problems.Refuses too see doctor. Today only ate 2oz chicken. Will eat bread or cake or sugar..Has weight gain and stretch marks.
Mother - 11-Nov-13 @ 1:53 AM
My brother has suffered a life of depression. He is 40 and at a stage of hypochondria. He is very thin. Always diet and body conscience. Complains he has swallowing problems with food and sore gums. He thinks he has some kind of illness, but sadly I think its emotional. Could this be symptoms of a eating disorder due to stress. He is social phobic as well. At the doctors all the time. Sad too watch. Regards Sonya
son - 30-Aug-13 @ 8:19 AM
This might be nothing but I think I might have a eating disorder and to be homest it's sort of scaring me. Sometimes it seems like I just can't eat anymore! My entire family can eat more than me (except for my baby sister, I'm 13) and I only eat half a meal per day. Its not that I think I'm fat or that I need to be skinney but I am the thinnest person in my year and I just can't eat any more! If you have any ideas on what Ishould do or what I have then please tell me.
bibit - 13-Jun-13 @ 4:06 AM
I don't know who to speak to about this!! I'm a 27 year old girl and I've suffered with dysphagia since the end of January this year as I had a goitre, but now that's shrunk I still have trouble swallowing even though my blood tests/thyroid ultrasound have all come back normal! I stick to soft/mushy/liquid foods like mash, tomato soup -- things generally that don't have bits in, but every time I try and get an appointment with my doctor I can never get an appointment that I have to fit in around my work times, and even if I do get an appointment outside of work hours, it's with a nurse practitioner who can't do very much - it's so frustrating! I used to weigh 117 pounds and now I weigh something like 103 pounds. I've always been petite and slim, I wear a UK size 6/8, but now I must be bordering on just a 6 or maybe a 4. It's horrible, I used to have such a healthy appetite, but every time I'm hungry I then think about eating it but don't get much pleasure out of it. I don't understand what's wrong, I feel sick every day, I've got pain in one side of my stomach, food takes a long time to go down my throat and the doctors I see don't do anything!!!
Jo - 8-Jun-12 @ 1:45 PM
help! I think i have a eating disorder habit which as i can binge a tones of food at once and purging afterward,it was very sick but i can't handle it and out off control,now about 3month i suffered.my bone was appear,my skins getting flabby and dry,a week i lost weight bout 3kg,now i prefer to starve myself,a week i just having a fruits as my major meal..please give some advice to solve my problem.
annys evans - 24-Apr-12 @ 2:32 PM
Help! I think I may have an eating disorder... I don't eat much, but some days I eat a lot. I get really full fast when I'm eating regular food, like Chicken, but I can eat fifteen cookies. I worry about becoming fat and still want to wear size zero pants, but I'm only 110 pounds. What's wrong with me?
Courtney - 11-Jul-11 @ 3:38 AM
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