AVOIDANT RESTRICTIVE FOOD INTAKE DISORDER (ARFID)
- Also known as Selective Eating Disorder (SED).
- This disorder can affect very young children and unlike other eating disorders, is not accompanied by a concern about weight or body shape. Some studies have shown a link with Autism Spectrum disorder, but this is not definitive. ARFID is distinguished from being a "picky eater" but the severity of the restricted range of foods, impacts on physical health (malnutrition) and level of emotional disturbance.
Here are some more details:
- Inadequate intake based on a restricted range of foods eaten or a restricted caloric intake that may result in serious weight loss, nutritional deficiency or growth impairment.
- Individuals with ARFID may avoid foods based on certain sensory qualities- such as texture, color, taste, or temperature. An example could be a child who likes only foods that he does not have to chew, and who therefore has great difficulty consuming a range of foods adequate to sustain normal growth and development. Or a child who will only eat food that is beige in colour.
- Reduced food intake may be due to an emotional disturbance related to eating
- ARFID interferes with normal social interactions and heightens stress at mealtimes for the entire family
- ARFID is not accompanied by a fear of gaining weight or concerns about body shape or weight, as is seen with other eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
- Can present in early childhood (before age of 6) and persist throughout life. May also appear later in life.
- Onset may follow an eating-related adverse event or trauma, such as a frightening episode of gagging, repeated vomiting, choking or having a tube put down one's throat for other health concerns.
At this point, limited research has been done into effective treatment of ARFID, "however, given the prominent avoidance behaviours, it seems likely that behavioural interventions , such as exposure therapy, will play an important role."
Source: Eating Disorders Review.
- Here is an Article on ARFID urging pediatricians to be on the lookout for this eating disorder among young children.
- ARFID may be accompanied by Autism Spectrum Disorder. Here are two research papers on feeding disturbances and families' experiences of these challenges: Mothers' Challenges in Feeding their Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder-Managing More than Just Picky Eating and a full thesis paper on the same issue.
- An Albertan mother has started up a group on Facebook to share resources, ideas and support for those impacted by ARFID or SED (Selective Eating Disorder). You can ask to join the group, by going to Facebook and searching "ARFID / SED Group of Alberta" or clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/350866265111405/