Treatment Options for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Woman struggling with body image and thinking about a Day in Eating Disorder Treatment

On the surface, ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) can appear to be many things and is often oversimplified as “picky eating”.

However, individuals who suffer with ARFID struggle with an inability to consume adequate caloric intake to sustain nourishment that is needed for proper growth or maintenance.

ARFID pertains to specific subtypes of feeding disorders that occur in infancy, early childhood, adolescents, and even persisting into adulthood. The implications of these disorders can affect physical health, emotional well being, as well as psychosocial development.

Finding Adequate Care for ARFID

ARFID continues to be a category of feeding disorders that is being researched and better understood. In the most recent revision of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition), ARFID was included as a new diagnostic category, replacing what had previously been known as feeding disorder of infancy or early childhood. The recognition and diagnostic criteria for this eating disorder is a positive step forward in creating awareness and understanding about this mental illness as well as improving treatment methods.

Because ARFID can presently differently and develop from a wide range of factors and influences, treatment must also be comprehensive while addressing individual needs. Although varying in signs and symptoms, ARFID is markedly characterized by disturbances with eating patterns that leads to clinical consequences. Treatment must address this primary concern as a means of correcting nutritional deficiencies, impaired psychosocial functioning, inadequate growth, and/or weight loss.

Effective Treatment for ARFID

Because ARFID is still a relatively new category of eating disBeachorders, effective treatment methods are still being researched and understood. Many behavioral and psychological interventions have demonstrated promising effects for those recovering from ARFID and may include forms of exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and more.

Because underlying biological factors may influence ARFID, seeking out specialized care by a treatment team should be sought for full assessment and diagnosis. This may involve collaboration with a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and registered dietitian.

If you suspect that someone you care for may be suffering with a form of ARFID, it is important to express these concerns to a treatment specialist. A disturbance in eating patterns are not something that should be ignored, and seeking out treatment early can assist with intervention and recovery.

Community Discussion- Share your thoughts here!

If your child has struggled with ARFID, what interventions were helpful for recovery?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 14, 2016
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