ARFID – the new kid on the block.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder where the individual will restrict the amount or types of food they eat. While this may look like Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa due to restricting food, those with ARFID do NOT restrict due to body image concerns.
For a diagnosis of ARFID, a clinician will make sure the individual’s eating behaviours do not fit the criteria of any other eating disorder, mental health condition, or physical condition.
Subtypes of ARFID
Restriction – where an individual lacks appetite or is uninterested in food.
Avoidance – avoiding a food due to distress with the texture, smell, or appearance.
Aversion – fear of experiencing a negative incident after eating the food, such as vomiting, choking, or allergic reaction. This is often due to a previous similar experience.
An individual with ARFID may experience any of the following
- Weight loss, or failure to gain weight as their age group would expect
- Low appetite
- Distress around food in general, or a particular food or group of foods
- Only eating a small number of foods
- Hiding food or eating alone
- Distress with their weight or appearance (e.g. being too thin)
- Physical, cognitive and psychological effects
If you suspect your love one has ARFID, it is important to encourage them to seek help early. Your loved one may avoid getting help. It is important to keep persevering.
Your loved one’s treatment team will decide on the best type of treatment, and whether they can be cared for at home or in hospital.
While your loved one has the greatest chance of recovery by getting into treatment early, recovery is possible at any stage.
Families and carers can help loved ones recover, so where possible, stay connected with your loved one and their treatment team.
For support in how to help your loved one, join a Carer Support Group.