What Is ARFID?


Often overshadowed by more commonly discussed disorders like anorexia or bulimia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is a unique condition characterized by a severe disruption in eating behaviors based on intense fear. At Palm Springs Behavioral Health, we believe in shining a light on all aspects of mental health, including conditions like ARFID, to foster better understanding and support.

Understanding ARFID – Symptoms and Behaviors

ARFID goes beyond being picky or having specific food likes and dislikes. It’s a complex disorder that causes significant anxiety about eating or the consequences of eating, such as choking. Unlike other eating disorders, ARFID does not stem from body image issues or a desire to lose weight. Instead, it’s more about the act or experience of eating.

People with ARFID may display various symptoms.

  • Limited interest in eating: A general disinterest or avoidance of food, unrelated to body dysmorphia.
  • Anxiety at mealtimes: Feeling stressed or anxious about eating may make mealtimes a source of distress.
  • Selective eating: Those with ARFID may go to extremes to limit what they eat, avoiding entire categories of food based on flavor, texture, or smell.
  • Ritualistic eating patterns: Creating specific routines or rituals around eating, like consuming foods in a specific order.

The Impact of ARFID

ARFID can lead to severe health complications due to malnutrition. Its restrictive nature means you may miss essential nutrients, leading to weight loss, growth problems, nutritional deficiencies, and other issues.

Unlike picky eating in childhood, which many people outgrow as their palates mature, ARFID doesn’t resolve on its own and requires professional treatment.

  • Nutritional therapy can address and manage the physical health complications that arise from ARFID.
  • Psychotherapy methods like cognitive behavioral therapy can be particularly effective in addressing the anxiety and behavioral aspects of ARFID.
  • Family-based therapy can be beneficial, especially for younger people dealing with ARFID.

Fighting Your Battle Beside You

ARFID is a challenging condition, but with treatment, you can learn to manage your fears and anxieties around food. At Palm Springs Behavioral Health, we provide comprehensive care tailored to each client’s needs. By getting the appropriate level of mental health care, you can achieve significant improvements in your physical, emotional, and social well-being.

If you have anxiety, depression, or co-occurring conditions, we encourage you to reach out to us today. Remember, acknowledging the problem is the first step in getting the attention and healing you need.