What is ARFID?

ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, is not as well-known as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, but it is as serious. Learn more about its symptoms, effects, and treatment methods in our informative piece.

Understanding ARFID

ARFID, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, is a relatively new diagnosis in the world of eating disorders. It’s characterized by a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs, leading to one or more of the following: significant weight loss or failure to achieve expected weight gain in children; significant nutritional insufficiency; dependence on enteral feeding or nutritional supplements; and/or marked interference with psychosocial functioning.

Identifying the Symptoms of ARFID

Helping to identify ARFID can be tricky because it isn’t about body image as one might see in cases of anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Instead, ARFID is more about fears around the process of eating. This could include fear of choking, vomiting or discomfort from eating, along with a lack of interest and extreme pickiness about the taste or texture of certain foods. For instance, a person with ARFID may only eat certain brands of food, might avoid all foods of a certain color or may not eat foods with certain textures. These symptoms can lead to numerous physical complications including weakened immune system, fragile bones, and growth issues in children.

The Role of Treatment in Managing ARFID

It’s important to understand that ARFID is a serious eating disorder with potential life-threatening consequences if left untreated. Therefore, seeking the help of professionals who specialize in eating disorders is recommended. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven to be effective as it addresses the psychological fears associated with eating. In addition, exposure therapy where individuals are gradually exposed to feared food and eating situations can also help in managing ARFID.


ARFID, while little known, is a serious eating disorder that can severely impact a person’s life. Understanding its symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment is crucial for successful management and recovery.

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