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ARFID Signs & Symptoms

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), oftentimes characterized as “extreme picky eating,” is an eating disorder impacting thousands of individuals, particularly children. The meaning of “fear food” in clients with ARFID differs from clients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. For individuals with ARFID the fear may stem from knowing they must eat, when they have no interest in eating, fearing the temperature might not be what they like, fear of choking or becoming sick or fear of eating a new food.

Types of ARFID

  1. Lack of interest: clients with this type of ARFID have a genuine lack of interest in eating and food. They also get full quickly.
  2. Sensory Avoidance: clients with sensory avoidance have issues with food tastes, textures, temperature and smells.
  3. Fear of Aversive Consequences; fear of illness, choking, nausea and allergies

Symptoms & Warning Signs

  • Do you think about food, dieting and weight all the time?
  • Are you constantly trying a new diet?
  • Do you think you are overweight when you look in the mirror?
  • Do other people constantly tell you that you are thin?
  • Do you have an intense fear of gaining weight?
  • Do you measure or weigh your food?
  • Do you avoid certain food types out of fear of weight gain?
  • Are you envious of other people because they are thinner than you?

Risks & Complications

  • Malnutrition
  • Weight Loss
  • Developmental delays
  • Co-occurring anxiety disorders
  • Failure to gain weight (children)
  • Gastrointestinal complications

Causes

ARFID does not have one root cause; instead, researchers and clinicians have explored a variety of potential contributing factors, such as biological, psychosocial, and environmental influences.

  • A child who is already predisposed to ARFID due to biological or genetic makeup may be triggered by environmental or psychosocial situations, such as a traumatic event.
  • Since there can be disrupted eating patterns among other mental illnesses, co-occurring diagnoses – such as anxiety disorders, developmental disabilities, and autism may exacerbate – may also be present.
  • In autism and other developmental disabilities, an individual’s relationship to their body and senses are already very heightened.

Treatment for ARFID

The good news is that recovery is possible! Treating Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder requires highly specialized care with an expert treatment team that is specifically-trained in this illness, as well as any co-occurring illnesses.

Seek Help

If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out to us. Center for Discovery’s Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.

For more information, resources, or to consult with one of our specialists, call 866.482.3876.

Take a free Eating Disorder Evaluation

This evaluation can help determine if you or a loved one may benefit from consulting with an eating disorder professional.

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), oftentimes characterized as “extreme picky eating,” is an eating disorder impacting thousands of individuals, particularly children. The meaning of “fear food” in clients with ARFID differs from clients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. For individuals with ARFID the fear may stem from knowing they must eat, when they have no interest in eating, fearing the temperature might not be what they like, fear of choking or becoming sick or fear of eating a new food.

Types of ARFID

  1. Lack of interest: clients with this type of ARFID have a genuine lack of interest in eating and food. They also get full quickly.
  2. Sensory Avoidance: clients with sensory avoidance have issues with food tastes, textures, temperature and smells.
  3. Fear of Aversive Consequences; fear of illness, choking, nausea and allergies

Symptoms & Warning Signs

  • A short list of acceptable foods
  • Eating foods of similar characteristics, such as crunchy in texture, or colorless
  • Preferences for particular food preparation methods
  • Avoidance of vegetables, protein sources (meat, beans, etc), fruit
  • Eliminates foods and never gains them back into the diet
  • Poor weight gain and growth (child may also be of normal weight and growth)
  • Nutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C most common)
  • Skips one or more entire food groups
  • Becomes emotional or demonstrates stress around unfamiliar foods
  • Food limitations negatively impact normal social behaviors

Risks & Complications

  • Co-occurring anxiety disorders
  • Failure to gain weight (children)
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight Loss
  • Developmental delays

Causes

ARFID does not have one root cause; instead, researchers and clinicians have explored a variety of potential contributing factors, such as biological, psychosocial, and environmental influences.

  • A child who is already predisposed to ARFID due to biological or genetic makeup may be triggered by environmental or psychosocial situations, such as a traumatic event.
  • Since there can be disrupted eating patterns among other mental illnesses, co-occurring diagnoses – such as anxiety disorders, developmental disabilities, and autism may exacerbate – may also be present.
  • In autism and other developmental disabilities, an individual’s relationship to their body and senses are already very heightened.

Treatment for ARFID

The good news is that recovery is possible! Treating Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder requires highly specialized care with an expert treatment team that is specifically-trained in this illness, as well as any co-occurring illnesses.

Seek Help

If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out to us. Center for Discovery’s Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.

For more information, resources, or to consult with one of our specialists, call 866.482.3876.

Take a free Eating Disorder Evaluation

This evaluation can help determine if you or a loved one may benefit from consulting with an eating disorder professional.

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance