Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Causes, symptoms and treatment
It’s perfectly normal for toddlers to refuse to eat or even taste new foods, with most children naturally outgrowing the picky eating phase around the age of six. However, extreme fussy eating behaviors could also be a sign of Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), previously referred to as Selective Eating Disorder.
“ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods or limits how much they eat,” explains Dr Amit Mistry, consultant psychiatrist in eating disorders at Cygnet Health Care. “This is not driven by an organic, medical illness or motivated by distorted cognitions related to body weight or shape such as anorexia nervosa. However, this can have a detrimental impact on daily social function, physical safety and can still lead to severe malnutrition too.”
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a relatively new diagnosis. Not much is known about the exact origins of this eating disorder, or the best available treatments. It may also be tricky to recognize the early signs of this dangerous mental health condition.
In this article, we discuss the symptoms, diagnostic criteria and potential causes of ARFID. We’ve also spoken to mental health experts to get their take on this novel eating disorder. If you’re worried about your child’s eating behaviors, however, it’s always advisable to consult a medical professional first.