What is ARFID?
ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) is an eating disorder characterized by highly selective eating habits, disturbed feeding patterns or both. It often results in significant nutrition and energy deficiencies, and for children, failure to gain weight.
Common eating and feeding challenges for an individual with ARFID include difficulty digesting food; avoidance of specific types of food textures, colors and smells; eating at an abnormally slow pace, or having a general lack of appetite.
The following is a common list of ARFID symptoms to help you discern whether you or your child may need professional eating disorder treatment:
- Extreme pickiness in choosing food
- Anxiety when presented with “fear” foods
- For adults, weight loss; for children, failure to gain weight
- Avoidance of particular foods, based on texture, color, taste, smell, food groups, etc.
- Frequent vomiting or gagging after exposure to certain foods
- Difficulty chewing food
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble digesting specific types of foods
- Consumption of extremely small portions
- Dependence on external feeding tubes or nutritional supplements
- Social isolation
What makes ARFID different from other eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia?
Unlike cases of anorexia and bulimia, ARFID does not typically involve poor body image, a drive to be thin, or a displeasure with external appearance. However, inadequate nutrition and caloric intake, especially among children, can seriously delay growth or prevent normal weight gain (Brigham et al., 2018).
ARFID frequently occurs with other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). It is important to keep in mind that while treating co-occurring disorders, such as ADHD, may help reduce ARFID symptoms, it is never enough to adequately address the underlying eating disorder. If you or someone you know has ARFID, it is important to seek treatment for an eating disorder specialist.
Learn more about our specialty virtual program to treat ARFIDWalden’s Virtual ARFID IOP
You are not alone. We’re here to help.
One of the best ways to improve treatment outcomes is to start treatment early. If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, may have an eating disorder, we are here to help.
Please reach out or email Admissions@MonteNidoAffiliates.com to connect with a member of our Admissions Team. Begin your journey to recovery today.
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Brigham KS, Manzo LD, Eddy KT, Thomas JJ. Evaluation and Treatment of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) in Adolescents. Curr Pediatr Rep. 2018 Jun;6(2):107-113. doi: 10.1007/s40124-018-0162-y. Epub 2018 Apr 16. PMID: 31134139; PMCID: PMC6534269.
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Sanchez-Cerezo J, Nagularaj L, Gledhill J, Nicholls D. What do we know about the epidemiology of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in children and adolescents? A systematic review of the literature. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2023 Mar;31(2):226-246. doi: 10.1002/erv.2964. Epub 2022 Dec 16. PMID: 36527163; PMCID: PMC10108140.