Media Coverage

These Are The Symptoms Of ARFID, An Eating Disorder Linked To Fear And Anxiety

April 18, 2023
BuzzFeed News interviewed Dr. Kim Anderson in this helpful and comprehensive piece about ARFID. Dr. Anderson shares how ARFID can develop, its symptoms, and treatment options.

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Diana, 27, from Santa Barbara, California, begins panicking when eating certain foods. While other people can eat bell peppers, mushrooms, or anything spicy without a second thought, these foods trigger so much fear and anxiety for Diana (who asked that we only use her first name), they have been impossible to consume. 

Diana has ARFID, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, which is characterized by an inability to eat foods because of an aversion to the taste, smell, or texture; a fear of choking; or lack of interest in eating.

She began documenting her experiences exposing herself to foods on TikTok in an effort to raise awareness of ARFID, which is much less well known than other eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, and the food restriction due to health concerns called orthorexia.

ARFID is different from eating disorders that cause people to restrict calories due to a fear of gaining weight or because they have a distorted body image. Instead, people with the eating disorder might have sensory issues or they might have experienced a traumatic event that leads to an avoidance or restriction of food.

“I had a gradual growth in my fears,” Diana told BuzzFeed News. “First it started out as a fear of choking on food. Once that fear did not come to fruition, it escalated to a fear of anaphylaxis [an allergic reaction]. This was particular to foods I did not enjoy or foods I had never tried before. When I did not have an allergic reaction, the fear landed at a fear of being poisoned. This started as an irrational fear that stemmed from watching a show where a person was murdered through food that I already had a fear about.” 


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