What Is ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)?

Last Update on July 6, 2022 : Published on July 6, 2022

Eating disorders are on a rise! Everyday more and more people are being diagnosed with different kinds of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, etc.

Eating disorders not only affect us physically but have an equal and disturbing effect on our mental health.  Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is one such eating disorder which has severe negative consequences on your both physical and mental health.

I’m sure you know of someone who is very picky when it comes to eating. They just do not agree on eating anything at all. They prefer consuming only a few things and nothing more than that. This eating habit often makes such people very lean, thin and malnutrition.

Let’s get a better look at the Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder…

What Is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder?

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a psychological condition characterized by disturbed eating behaviors like extreme selectivity while eating or disorganized eating patterns. If you have Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder you can either show one of the two restrictive eating behaviors or in some cases both the behaviors are to be seen together.

There are various other restrictive behaviors that this restrictive type eating disorder involves. Such as eating at an unusually slow pace, face problems in digesting various foods, avoid different coloured or smelling fruits and vegetables, aversion to some different food textures, etc.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is a type of eating disorder which restricts you from eating a balanced diet so that your body can be healthy. This condition makes people avoid most of the food items making them weak and malnutritioned and develop body image related issues & anxiety.

Is Food Restriction An Eating Disorder? What Are Its Symptoms?

“Is food restriction an eating disorder?

Food restriction becomes an eating disorder when the restriction happens without any reason. Some health conditions do require some food restrictions but it does have a strong reason. When you restrict food for no good reason it becomes an Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

Let’s look at the symptoms of Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder to understand this restrictive eating disorder better;

  • Extreme selective in food choices
  • Fear and anxiety in presence of averted food items
  • Extreme weight loss, inability to gain weight
  • Aversion to food items respective of their texture, color, smell, etc.
  • Frequent gag reflex or purposely vomiting
  • Find it extremely difficult to chew food
  • Eat really small amount of meals
  • Digestion problem
  • Disturbed eating patterns, reduced appetite
  • Dependency on feeding tube or supplements
  • Self-alienation

 What Causes Restrictive Eating Disorder?

The causes of restrictive eating disorders have not been found yet. Many people have various conspiracy theories about what causes someone to develop Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder but there have been no proofs that support these assumed causes of the restrictive eating disorder.

Did you know Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is more common in children or adolescents than it is among adults?  We see so many children these days who refuse to eat a balanced diet. Various studies state that 5 % of children have Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder among which boys are at a greater risk of developing Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder than girls.

However, there are a few risk factors that might play a role in developing Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Disorders like autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can foster Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. It can also house those children who don’t grow out of picky eating habits as they grow older.

Treatment For Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Individuals with Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder are at a high risk of developing anxiety disorders or other psychiatric conditions. This is so because their body and brain are not getting the required amount of food to function properly and they also develop body image related issues since Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is making them look skinny day by day.

This makes it even more important to get Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder treated as soon as possible before it begins to house various other mental or physical health conditions. Let’s have a look at some possible treatment options for Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder;

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Social skill development
  • Motor skills development
  • Supplements
  • Meal plan by the dietitian

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder interesting, helpful and informative. If you identify any child around you with picky eating behavior don’t take it light, it can be Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Take them to a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and eat well!

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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