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What is ARFID?

ARFID is the acronym for avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. It is formerly know and treated as SED or selective eating disorder. It is defined in the DSM-V (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders volume 5) as "an eating or feeding disturbance as manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one (or more) of the following: 1. Significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children), 2. Significant nutritional deficiency, 3. Dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements, 4. Marked interference with psychosocial functioning."

What does this all mean?

This means that people living with ARFID often struggle with feeling comfortable around meals or certain foods. They fear consequences of foods such as vomiting or choking, whether it can really happen or not. They may fear how the food feels in their mouth,

or dislike how it smells, they may even refuse the food simply by how it looks on the plate. Lack of interest does not mean that they are disinterested in all foods, however in some cases and for some individuals living with ARFID this may be true. Many individuals who experience lack of interest struggle with not feeling hungry and may also be living with a very narrow variety of foods to choose from, which makes it difficult to be excited about meal times. Individuals living with ARFID may only eat foods of a certain texture or color group, or they may simply cut out certain textures or color groups.

Isn't it just picky eating?

No, ARFID is much more than just picky eating. Individuals living with ARFID are not choosing to not eat meals to give those around them a hard time, they are having a hard time with food. Simply put their nervous system is sensing a threat in an otherwise safe situation. By partnering with an experienced clinician they are able to develop the tools they and support they need to overcome that fear and work themselves down from that intense fear.

Michelle Riggs, RDN, LD

From Scratch Nutrition, LLC


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