Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is more than just picky eating. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), which was previously referred to as “selective eating disorder” (SED) is a disturbance in feeding or eating that results in substantial weight loss (or, in children, a failure to put on weight), nutritional deficiency, dependence on tube feeding or oral nutritional supplements, or difficulty engaging in daily life.

ARFID is Not Anorexia

ARFID is commonly confused with Anorexia Nervosa due to the shared symptom of drastic weight loss and nutritional deficiency. However, while some symptoms are similar, the two eating disorders are not the same. The most notable difference being that those with ARFID lack a desire for thinness and obsessive thoughts about body image.

ARFID can affect all populations, regardless of gender, age, race, and socioeconomic status. ARFID is commonly connected to another psychiatric diagnosis, typically to an anxiety disorder or to obsessive compulsive disorder. ARFID is not the result of a lack of food or the symptom of another medical disorder.


ARFID Risk Factors

  • Those on the autism spectrum are more likely to develop ARFID
  • Those with ADHD are more likely to develop ARFID
  • Children with severe picky eating are more likely to develop ARFID
  • Children with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk of developing ARFID

ARFID Warning Signs and Symptoms

This eating disorder can have severe health consequences due to the lack of meeting nutritional needs. Some indications include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Stunted weight gain and height growth
  • Gastrointestinal issues that seemingly have no known cause
  • Restriction in amount or type of food eaten
  • Fear of illness, choking or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite or interest in food
  • No body image concerns
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Anemia, low hormone levels, low potassium, slow hear rate
  • Dizziness or falling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fine or brittle nails

 

The Emily Program Logo