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Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) may be misconstrued as picky eating.  Children, teens and young adults appear to comprise most of the ARFID diagnosed.  Restricting specific foods or limiting the amount of feed eaten can lead to compromised growth, interference with psychosocial functioning, nutritional deficiency, weight loss and abdominal pain. Fear of choking or vomiting or sensory issues are often associated with an ARFID diagnosis.  There is usually not a concern about body image or weight associated with ARFID with these young people but their nutritional requirements are not met. 

Though the causes of ARFID are not well understood and rather speculative, there are some potential ones cited by both medical professionals and researchers:

  • sensory sensitivity (sensitivity to tastes, textures and the appearance of foods)

  • selective eating and fear of new foods

  • fear of certain foods causing pain and discomfort

  • fear of vomiting and/or gagging caused by new or "unsafe" foods

  • low appetite or disinterest in food

  • gastrointestinal problems when eating "unsafe" foods

  • other unexplained fears surrounding "unsafe" foods and feeling poisoned

  • autism spectrum disorder and anxiety disorders


With time the symptoms of ARFID can lessen and can eventually disappear without treatment. However, in some cases treatment will be needed as the symptoms persist into adulthood. The most common type of treatment for ARFID is some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Working with a clinician can help to change behaviors more quickly than symptoms may typically disappear without treatment.

There are support groups for adults with ARFID.

If you have any questions regarding Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, call our office. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Call us at (631) 724-7152 or leave your name, email and message in the contact section below.

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