Addressing ARFID

Our eating disorder series has covered some of the more well-known conditions like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder, but the spectrum of disordered eating conditions is actually much broader than these.

One of these lesser-known (but not uncommon) conditions is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Although it sounds complicated, a simple way to sum it up is “anorexia without body image disturbance.”

In ARFID, food and calorie intake are restricted to a similar extent as anorexia. Weight status (and growth in children) is similarly compromised. Examples for why someone with ARFID may restrict their food intake include:

· Fear of vomiting, choking on food, or becoming ill from eating

· Technology addiction contributing to a sense of apathy towards eating

· Avoidance of certain food textures or colors, often occurring in those on the autism spectrum

Again, someone with ARFID doesn’t want to be at a low body weight, but are apathetic towards or avoidant of eating.

Signs of ARFID include dramatic weight loss, poor appetite or low interest in food and eating, very narrow selection of preferred foods, cold intolerance and report of chronic, vague digestive problems.

Much like anorexia, return to a normal weight – or growth pattern in children – is essential for recovery with ARFID. Underlying causes for the condition must be addressed, often by a licensed therapist. A dietitian is likely necessary to provide guidance for adequate nutritional intake.

For more information on ARFID and other types of eating disorders, check out the National Eating Disorders Association website.

If you would like to inquire about virtual nutrition counseling for eating disorders, please check out our First Bite Nutrition page.

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