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ARFID – Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by highly selective eating habits and/or disturbed feeding patterns, including some cases of extreme “picky eating,” often resulting in severe nutritional, energy loss and an adverse impact on daily life.

ARFID is most common in children and adolescents, with symptoms often persisting into adulthood.

Potential Warning Signs of ARFID

  • Avoidance of particular foods (texture, color, taste, smell, food groups, etc.)
  • A fear of eating, often based on past negative experiences
  • Trouble digesting specific types of foods
  • Consuming extremely small portions
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Frequent vomiting or gagging after exposure to certain foods
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss or failure to gain weight
  • Inability/avoidance of eating in group settings

Symptoms of ARFID

  • The individual needs to present with a disturbed eating or feeding experience which is associated with one or more of the following:
    • Nutritional deficiency as a result of inadequate intake of food
    • Weight loss in adults or failure to gain weight in children
    • Decline in psychological function
    • Dependency on supplements in order to maintain nutritional health
  • The disturbed eating is not due to an explainable external factor such as food being unavailable or in short supply.
  • The person does not have the symptom of a distorted body image.
  • The feeding disturbance or food restriction is not a result of some other physical or mental illness. For example, a person may lose weight due to the flu or food poisoning, but this would not be an example of an eating or feeding disorder, therefore a diagnosis of ARFID would not be relevant.

(source: DSM-V)

Walden offers ARFID-specific treatment for male and female patients, which includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family-Based Treatment (FBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), family-based education, nutrition counseling, meal coaching and more.