Signs of Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

At first glance, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) may not look like a traditional eating disorder, but it involves serious difficulty with eating and food. People struggling with ARFID may have nutritional deficiencies, difficulty trying new foods, or report trouble with appetite and digestion. Along with these symptoms, there may also be concerns with quality of life, discomfort in social situations involving food, and an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression.

Often referred to as “extreme picky-eating”, ARFID is typically seen in children and adolescents, although it can continue into adulthood. Adult-onset of ARFID can also occur, particularly in relation to traumatic experiences with food, like choking, food poisoning or car sickness. ARFID commonly co-occurs with other diagnoses such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.

Signs of ARFID include:

  • Refusal to eat or a lack of appetite or interest in food not otherwise explained by a medical condition
  • Limited range of foods that are deemed acceptable, sometimes delineated by food group, texture, color, or even brand
  • Fear of an aversive consequence for eating, such as choking or an allergic reaction
  • Difficulty eating meals with others and avoidance of social situations involving food
  • Eating at a very slow pace
  • Delayed growth, failure to gain weight or weight loss
  • Impaired psychosocial functioning due to rigidity around food

ARFID differs from picky eating in several ways. Developmentally, small children generally begin to outgrow picky-eating around age five and start showing more willingness to try new foods. ARFID symptoms, on the other hand, do not lessen with age and can lead to delayed growth, malnourishment, or reliance on supplementation. Also, picky eaters do not typically experience the lack of interest in food, lack of hunger cues, or psychosocial impairments that often come with an ARFID diagnosis.

While many ARFID symptoms seem similar to anorexia symptoms, ARFID does not include the drive for thinness or preoccupation with bodyweight or size associated with anorexia.

Our Approach to Patient Care

At Reasons, we treat ARFID across all levels of care using a multi-faceted therapeutic approach, along with our nutrition philosophy, the E.A.T model, rooted in Exposure and Response Prevention. We collaborate with members of your team such as medical providers, family members, and occupational therapists to firmly rule out underlying medical conditions and incorporate additional techniques to address sensory issues while developing an ARFID treatment plan that works for you.

Reason’s gender-inclusive programs help adolescents and adults across many levels of care – whether you’re seeking inpatient ARFID treatment, residential ARFID treatment, partial hospitalization ARFID treatment, or outpatient (IOP or PHP) ARFID treatment. Our ability to handle acute medical issues and provide specialized nursing care differentiates our services from other ARFID treatment centers in the region.

We Hold Hope for Your Recovery

Eating disorder recovery is not always easy, but it is possible. Let us support you in discovering not only the reasons for your eating disorder but the reasons for your recovery. To schedule a no-cost clinical consultation or for more information, please call 844-573-2766 or use our online contact form. In case of a medical emergency or crisis, please call 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.

Eating Disorder Recovery is Possible

We understand that there are reasons for your eating disorder. We’re here to stand with you during this difficult time. Let’s work together to discover the reasons for your recovery.