ARFID stands for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.
While the onset of ARFID occurs in childhood, it still can affect someone at any age due to lack of proper diagnosis.
Children who have experienced trauma or illness may suddenly develop symptoms of ARFID. Some of these traumas that may have occurred because of a scary experience that may have happened to them where they had an allergic reaction, choked, threw up, or just had a negative moment with food. Some people feel forced to eat and they feel it becomes a chore. Others find that novel foods have a strange or intense taste, texture, or smell and they feel ‘safer’ eating foods they know the best. Difficulties with nourishing themselves consistently may be the first symptoms to appear, or they might emerge after other issues have been identified such as aversion to certain textures/smells/consistencies, avoiding eating with others, consuming limited range of foods/food groups.
Individuals with ARFID may experience abdominal pain and other adverse physical ramifications when they eat, increasing symptoms of anxiety that further intensify and perpetuate food avoidance. Potential challenges with lack of appetite or even driving desire to eat can also plague those with ARFID.
When struggling with ARFID, an individual struggles to consume adequate caloric intake to grow, maintain development, and even sustain basic bodily functions at times. Appetite cues get quieter and it can become more stressful to eat.
Children with ARFID are also known to exhibit hypersensitive and obsessive qualities, such as an aversion to being splashed, excessive cleaning, and refusing to eat food that looks lumpy.
ARFID is different and set apart from other eating disorder diagnoses as a person struggling with this disorder isn’t fixated on their body image or weight. They do limit the amount and/or type of foods they consume, usually out of fear/trauma. They have behaviors like food avoidance based on appearance, taste, smell, texture, or fear of illness.
Regardless of its origin, if left untreated the symptoms of ARFID can persist into adulthood. It creates stress on the body due to malnutrition and nutritional deficiency which can lead to electrolyte imbalances and other serious medical consequences, even death. ARFID isn’t just about personal preference or being a “picky eater.” It is a mental health disorder, just like any other category of eating disorder, and it requires both medical nutrition therapy and psychological interventions.
ARFID is sorely misunderstood and tends to fly under the radar. When properly diagnosed, competent care is crucial. We have many amazing professional dietitians and therapists with experience in supporting those struggling with ARFID. For more information and to get connected, we welcome you to visit our website https://sinnergywellnessgroup.com/our-team/.