What’s missing from the conversation about eating disorders?

When you hear the term ‘eating disorder’, what comes to mind?

Is it anorexia?

Or maybe bulimia?

It’s not surprising.

When someone asks me what I do and I explain I’m a psychotherapist who works with clients with eating disorders, they usually tell me about someone they know who’s experienced anorexia.

While it’s a really good thing that awareness around anorexia and bulimia has increased significantly over the years, there’s yet to be the same level of awareness about binge eating disorder or OSFED.

In case you don’t know, OSFED stands for “other specified feeding or eating disorder”.

Any disordered eating – for example compulsive eating or emotional eating – that doesn’t meet the criteria for binge eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia, usually falls under the category OSFED.

It doesn’t mean the eating behaviour is less distressing, it simply means it doesn’t meet the criteria.

So what’s the most prevalent eating disorder in the UK?

The answer is OSFED.

Followed by binge eating disorder,

…then bulimia,

…then anorexia.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in adolescence but it’s the least prevalent eating disorder.

OSFED and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders and yet they’re often left out of the conversation.


A new study published in The Lancet this month found that 41.9 million cases of binge eating disorder and OSFED were unreported in 2019, because the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) includes only anorexia and bulimia.

As a result, the experiences of 41.9 million people simply weren’t taken into account.

Binge eating disorder wasn’t included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) until 8 years ago in 2013.

If you go to your doctor concerned about binge eating or any other form of emotion-driven overeating, the sad fact is you’re more likely to be given diet advice than an eating disorder assessment.

No wonder so many of the clients I work with struggle to believe they’re worthy of help.

It’s time to be better informed about binge eating disorder and OSFED.

It’s time to ensure people suffering with these issues get the help they so badly need and deserve.

It’s time to change the conversation.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2021.

Summer Rewind: What Did You Learn About Food Growing Up?

As I’m now on holiday for two weeks, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few posts you might have missed the first time. The aim of this one from July 2018 is to help you uncover any beliefs about food from childhood that may be having a negative impact on your eating today – a crucial step in the process to heal your relationship with food.

Happy August, everyone. Stay safe.

With very best wishes



Continue reading “Summer Rewind: What Did You Learn About Food Growing Up?”

What’s the Cost of Comparing Ourselves to Others?

“In 1995, TV was first introduced to Fiji showing many imported US shows.
In 1998, only 3 years later, 11.9% of the teenage girls were hanging over the toilet bowl with bulimia, a previously unknown behaviour”.

– Susie Orbach, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”

I haven’t forgotten this shocking fact since I first read it many, many years ago.

Until teenage girls in Fiji started to compare their bodies with women on American television, the eating disorder bulimia nervosa didn’t exist in their country. As the unfavourable comparisons began, so did the mental health condition.

We live in a world where we’re invited to compare ourselves to others almost constantly.

Continue reading “What’s the Cost of Comparing Ourselves to Others?”

What Can Lockdown Teach Us About Binge Eating?

I want to start by expressing my gratitude to all the medical professionals (both frontline and behind the scenes) currently working, at great personal risk, to care for the sick. I’d also like to thank all those carrying out essential services – collecting our rubbish, stacking the shelves, delivering our orders – for their hard work and dedication at such a difficult time.

Thank you. All of you.

The rest of us are playing our part by staying at home in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. And it seems that some of us are struggling with the lockdown, while others are enjoying it.

Continue reading “What Can Lockdown Teach Us About Binge Eating?”

What’s the Downside of Daydreaming?

As you elegantly step out of the limousine onto the red carpet, cheers instantly erupt from the waiting crowd. You reward them with a dazzling smile while the night sky lights up with hundreds of flashes from paparazzi cameras.

In one perfectly manicured hand you hold the new diamond-encrusted phone Apple designed especially for you. In the other, you clutch the Oscar you won the night before for Best Adapted Screenplay of your own best-selling novel (your legendary acceptance speech was both hilarious and moving, by the way).

Your phone rings. It’s Adele. What? She wants to duet with you on her new album? Well, how could you refuse? You’re not sure how you’ll squeeze it in, what with addressing the United Nations, the fitting for your new Marvel superhero costume, and collecting your Nobel Prize in Stockholm. But sure, Adele, anything for you. Suddenly, you hear a loud voice say:

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Can You Forgive Yourself?

I saw a quote the other day that stopped me in my tracks:

“When you keep criticising your kids, they don’t stop loving you, they stop loving themselves”.

Its stark simplicity hit me hard.

It’s absolutely true. If children are criticised relentlessly, they don’t start hating their parents, they start hating themselves.

Continue reading “Can You Forgive Yourself?”