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Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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What is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)?

ARFID is an eating disorder that causes people to eat very little food or avoid eating certain foods. People with ARFID aren't afraid of gaining weight. Unlike people with anorexia, they don't believe they are overweight when they aren't.

  • Often leads to weight loss in adults

  • Can be caused by a bad experience with food, like choking

  • Children and infants may not grow as expected

  • Can cause life-threatening nutrition problems

People with ARFID often have trouble in social settings, like eating with others or being in relationships.

ARFID usually starts during childhood. It can start in children who aren't interested in food or who don't like how food feels in their mouth. It's different than normal picky eating because picky eaters:

  • Are usually only picky about a few food items

  • Eat a normal amount of food overall

  • Still grow as expected, but children with ARFID may not

How can doctors tell if I have ARFID?

Doctors will check to make sure your weight loss isn’t being caused by a physical health problem, like a food allergy, cancer, or a problem digesting food. Doctors also consider other mental health problems that can lead to weight loss.

How do doctors treat ARFID?

Doctors may suggest therapy to help you feel less anxious about what you eat. You may be given nutritional supplements.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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