ARFID Is More Than Just Picky Eating — Here's What Parents Need to Know
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Many parents struggle to feed picky eaters and worry their kids aren't getting their nutritional needs met with only a small selection of their favorite foods. But some children's aversion to eating is not a typical part of growing up — and could be a sign of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), a type of eating disorder that can affect young children.
"Picky eating and ARFID are not the same thing," says clinical psychologist Kim Anderson, PhD, executive director at Eating Recovery Center. "Fussy eating is a very normal thing for children to experience. They only like certain colors of food or want their foods in certain shapes. They'll eat a certain food every day for a week and then refuse to eat it again." ARFID, on the other hand, is much more serious. It is "not a stage or a normal part of development. It's not even 'extreme picky eating.' It's a diagnosable and treatable eating disorder," Dr. Anderson explains.
Below, learn more about the details of ARFID, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Knowing how to spot the signs can be particularly helpful in getting your child the care they need.