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    For many individuals, including children, adolescents, and adults, it is common to experience picky eating to various degrees. When it comes to eating, there are often strong food preferences involved that influence a person’s food selections and eating behaviors. Previously known as selective eating disorder (SED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is characterized by a limited consumption of food and insufficient nutrition intake to support and maintain basic body function. Selective food choices can be influenced by a variety of complex factors, including avoidance of particular flavors and textures, having minimal appetite at meal times, or being fearful of eating due to episodes of vomiting or choking.

    Similarly, to other eating disorder, such as anorexia/bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, ARFID is influenced by a combination of biological, environmental, sociocultural and psychosocial issues. Researchers have also identified that individuals with autism spectrum conditions, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities are more likely to develop ARFID [1]. Unlike eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa, food disturbances or irregular eating patterns are not due to significant concerns about their weight or distorted body image. Feeding disturbances related to ARFID are also not related to underlying medical problems. Our care teams have the aptitude to work the specificities and nuances associated with ARFID. With our inclusive programmatic model and individual care, we are able to address the issues related to ARFID in individual and group care.

    Signs and Symptoms of ARFID

    An individual who is struggling with ARFID will demonstrate disturbances in normal feeding behaviors. Understanding the potential signs and symptoms associated with ARFID can support early diagnosis and intervention.

    An adult, adolescent, or child with ARFID may exhibit the following signs and symptoms [2]:

    • Lack of appetite or interest in food
    • Expressed fear of vomiting or choking on food
    • Narrow range of food preferences that may become more limited over time
    • Severe restriction in amounts or types of foods consumed
    • Recurring gastrointestinal complaints during mealtimes without any known cause
    • Weight loss or stunted growth patterns
    • Cold Intolerance
    • Lack of energy, lethargy
    • No fear of weight gain or body image disturbance

    As a result of these feeding disturbances, and individual struggling with ARFID is typically unable to support their nutritional needs to maintain overall well-being. This can result in severe physical complications that may require medical intervention, such as:

    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Fainting/syncope
    • Low body temperature
    • Menstrual irregularities in females
    • Dry skin, brittle nails
    • Gastrointestinal distress
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Poor immune functioning
    • Muscle weakness
    • Impaired skin healing
    • Anemia
    • Slowed heart rate

    [1]: Norris, M., Robinson, A., Obeid, N., Harrison, M., Spettigue, W., & Henderson, K. (2014). Exploring avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in eating disorder patients: A descriptive study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47, 495-499.

    [2]: Steinglass, J., Mayer, L., & Attia, E. (2015). 13 Treatment of Restrictive Eating and Handbook of Assessment and Treatment of Eating Disorders, 3.