What is ARFID?

by Caitlin Moran, Accredited Practising Dietitian
BA/BSc, MDiet

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is characterised by a pattern of eating that avoids specific foods, food groups, colours of foods or restriction of quantity. It is classified as an Eating Disorder but the individual is not concerned with body image and the intention is not to lose weight.

ARFID can develop from sensory sensitivities, commonly associated with ASD or from a fear of negative consequences of eating such as choking or vomiting. It is often associated with anxiety and fear around food which leads to restriction. It can affect anyone at any age, including children as young as two years old. 

ARFID is not picky eating. While picky or fussy eating can be a concern for many parents, a fussy eater will not starve themselves to death, where as someone with ARFID will. 

Treatment for ARFID must take place under the supervision of a specialist team including a dietitian and a psychologist. ARFID occurs differently for each individual, and as a result, treatment will also differ but will always aim to address the underlying causes and concerns for the Eating Disorder.

If you think you or your child may be suffering from ARFID, please reach out to your GP, Paediatrician or Dietitian.