Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is characterized by an eating or feeding disturbance (from an apparent lack of interest in eating or food, an avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; or a concern about aversive consequences of eating) resulting in a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs and is associated with one (or more) of the following. ARFID is a pattern of eating that is limited in variety and/or volume.

3 types of ARFID

Avoidant: characterized by an avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food
Aversive: experiences fear-based consequences from eating such as the fear of choking, nausea, vomiting, swallowing and/or pain
Restrictive: comes from an apparent lack of interest in eating or food

Behavioral Warning Signs of ARFID

  • Lack of interest in food
  • Being a “picky eater”
  • Refusing to try new foods
  • Avoiding foods due to texture or consistency
  • Requiring foods to be prepared a specific way
  • Emotional dysregulation and high anxiety around mealtimes
  • Other Signs and symptoms of ARFID
  • Weight loss and nutritional deficiencies
  • Failure to meet growth trajectories.
  • Abdominal pain from an unknown cause
  • Fears or phobias around illness, chocking or vomiting
  • Neutral or positive body image

Long-term risks of ARFID

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Delayed puberty or dysregulation of reproductive hormones
  • Impaired brain functioning and signaling

Common contributing factors of ARFID

  • Malnutrition-induced changes
  • Altered hunger and fullness cues
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Genetic predisposition and societal pressures
  • Abnormal brain circuitry and weakened food-related reward pathways
  • Anxiety- individuals may experience anxieties and fears around eating. They may avoid eating due to a fear of choking, having an allergic reaction, vomiting or even dying if they eat certain foods.