Friday, 28 February 2014

Day five - Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Welcome to day five of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, today I will be writing about Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

EDNOS is a psychological disorder, like other eating disorders. It can take many different forms, and include many different behaviours. Some examples are
-All the criteria for Anorexia Nervosa are met, except they have regular menses or despite significant weight loss, they may currently weigh within the normal range.
-All the criteria for Bulimia Nervosa are met except binges occur at a frequency of less than twice a week or a duration of less than three months.
-A person of normal body weight who regularly engages in purging after eating small amounts of food.
-A person who repeatedly chews and spits out, but does not swallow, large amounts of food.
-Orthorexia, when the person is obsessed with only eating foods they consider healthy.
-Drunkorexia, where the person "saves up" their calories in order to binge drink.
-Diabulimia, where the person already has diabetes, and binges but restricts their insulin intake to stop weight gain. 

There are many other parts of EDNOS not covered here, and some people may present with a mix of different aspects of disordered eating. Anyone can get EDNOS, at any time in their life. It is also worth saying, that people can move between diagnoses, they may start with anorexia, but become bulimic after a while, this doesn't mean they have necessarily got a different eating disorder, it just means the eating disorder has changed or developed into different behaviours, because it is psychological, the root behind it is still the same.

Here is what a friend of mine would like to share about having EDNOS:
-How did you first realise you had EDNOS? Didn’t start to accept what it was for years. Until started to cut the control I had when it came eating.
-How did EDNOS affect you and those around you? Physically its still haunting me a year after started seeing an improvement. Three examples are severe jaw pain through purging, rectal issues through laxative abuse and my weight has stabilised (which wouldn’t have happened a year or two ago) but I would still be classed as underweight.
-What support did you receive/are you receiving? Has is/is it helping? Hasn’t helped – forcing me to get support when I didn't want to caused me to regress. Has helped – me being ready to change eating habits and accepting that will have bad days. 
-What things can people do to help someone they know with EDNOS? Instead of concentrating on what I haven’t managed to do. Concentrate on what I have done but don’t patronise me either.
-What things are unhelpful to someone with EDNOS? The following applies for an EDNOS person in recovery of his or her own free will, what doesn’t help is watching us eat and telling us in ANY way that we have eaten too much. Yes we will screw up occasionally but watching for every little slip isn’t helpful.
-If someone reading this was suffering from EDNOS what advice would you give them? There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to take tiny steps towards the light instead of giant footsteps.

Help for EDNOS, as with all other eating disorders, has a first port of call at your GP. They may refer you on for talking therapies, a dietician, community mental health teams, inpatient wards, outpatient clinics, day patient clinics or general hospital if necessary. CBT is the main therapy used for EDNOS, and can have very positive outcomes. Family and friends are also key in recovery, and it is important that people with in your support system have a knowledge of the disorder, even if they don't understand themselves. It is also important to keep social activities going if possible, as bulimia can be quite a lonely experience, and sufferers often shut people out because they feel they don't deserve friendships, or because they are so focused on food. There are also helplines like Beat ( and Anorexia Bulimia care ( or websites like Minds Like Ours (

EDNOS has been in the news quite a lot recently, here are a few links to articles you may find useful, and also an article you may want to send to your GP or take in when you visit:

Some helpful books for sufferers and those supporting them include:
Overcoming Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder - Peter Cooper
Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e), a survival kit for sufferers of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders - Ulrike Schmidt and Janet Treasure
Overcoming Binge Eating - Christopher G Fairburn
Life without ED - Jenni Schaefer
Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa - Christopher Freeman

And of course, for me, as a christian, I believe that God is key in recovery, its able to take place because of him, happens through him, and you can do it with him. You can trust him to help you through the darkest of times, and he will never leave you, and he loves you dearly and cares about your health, mental health included.

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