So, you’ve heard of Anorexia and Bulimia… but have you heard of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)?
In a nutshell, ARFID manifests itself as a fear of certain foods. People who suffer from ARFID take picky eating to the next level, generally having a short list of just 10 to 15 foods that they are willing to eat.
Symptoms of ARFID
- Sufferers are averse to the taste, textures and smells of certain foods.
- They may have concerns about the consequences of eating – i.e. choking, allergies etc (even if the consequences are irrelevant).
- Can cause weight loss (not always the case).
- Can cause nutritional deficiencies.
- Anxiety around food and situations that include food, thus avoiding social interaction and events.
Do you have a fear of certain foods?
Unlike Anorexia or Bulimia, people who have ARFID are not concerned about losing or gaining weight. The core issue is a dislike of certain food items, that builds into a genuine fear over the years.
Or are you just a picky eater?
We’ve all met a picky eater. Maybe you are one yourself. The main difference with ARFID, is that this is an eating disorder where avoiding foods is far more extreme than simply being picky.
ARFID sufferers will have a very limited selection of foods they are comfortable eating, and trying to force new foods on them, will cause great anxiety.
The fear of food may be due to texture, smell or taste, or it may be due to a negative experience that they have linked to a certain food. For example, choking on a grape as a toddler may cause someone with ARFID to fear grapes.
Is there treatment for ARFID
Doctors and psychologists are only just beginning to understand this eating disorder. It’s not new, but our understanding of it is.
With therapy, people with ARFID can examine and analyse their fear of food, and be encouraged to slowly expand on the foods they are willing to eat. Not only does this provide better nutrition, it also helps alleviate the anxiety that sufferers experience when presented with food they are afraid of.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, don’t go it alone. Speak to your doctor about solutions and get the help you need!