Have you heard of ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)? It is a recently recognized eating disorder characterized by a refusal to eat or an aversion to certain foods due to fear, disgust, or other psychological factors. While it is still relatively unknown, the disorder is becoming more widely recognized and understood. ARFID is most commonly seen in children, although it can also affect adults. Those affected with ARFID may avoid certain food textures, colors, temperatures, or flavors, or they may refuse to eat or may be limited to very few food items. Some sufferers may also refuse to consume certain food items due to their content such as sugar, salt, or fat. These food aversions often result in malnutrition, which can lead to other physical and mental issues.
Those affected with ARFID may also have an intense fear of choking, gain or lose an unhealthy amount of weight, or experience impaired growth and development due to extreme diet restriction. Additionally, other psychiatric disorders or anxiety issues can arise in those affected with ARFID. So how is ARFID treated? The primary goals of treatment are to ensure adequate nutrition and promote the development of normal eating practices, while addressing any emotional issues that may be present.
Treatment typically is a combination of psychotherapy, family therapy, and nutritional counseling, and for those with severe cases, hospitalization may also be required. ARFID is still a relatively new disorder and can be difficult to recognize. In cases of severe restriction, it’s essential to seek help from a qualified physician who can diagnose the disorder and provide adequate treatment. With help, it is possible to overcome ARFID and lead a healthy life.