A diagnosis of Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) can be overwhelming for an individual and their caregivers. Since ARFID has only recently gained wider recognition and is a less well known eating disorder, it is understandable to have questions about what this diagnosis means and what treatment might look like.
We are going through the main four questions we hear when it comes to ARFID diagnosis.
Top 4 Questions About ARFID Answered
What is ARFID?
Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by selective eating and energy intake that is inadequate to meet the body’s needs for growth, weight stability, and daily function.
It often appears in early childhood and continues into adulthood. Individuals will often have a limited range of accepted/preferred foods and this may become more restrictive as time goes on.
Restricted intake can be caused by lack of appetite or interest in food, sensory avoidance, and/or fear of aversive consequences from eating (choking, allergy, illness, nausea).
Unlike other eating disorders, people with ARFID do not typically report negative body image or fear of weight gain. ARFID is more than picky eating and can have medical consequences such as nutrient deficiency, failure to grow in children or weight loss in adults. ARFID may co-occur alongside autism, intellectual disabilities, anxiety disorders, or other psychiatric disorders.
What are the goals of ARFID treatment?
There are three goals of ARFID treatment:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight and healthy eating patterns.
- Increase the variety of foods eaten.
- Learn ways to eat without fear of pain or choking
How do you achieve the goals of ARFID treatment?
To achieve these desired outcomes, a multidisciplinary treatment team is recommended. This team will include a physician, therapist, and dietitian.
Doctors will monitor medical stability and in some cases may prescribe medications to treat anxiety or increase anxiety.
Various therapeutic approaches may be utilized to support individuals and families in addressing food-related trauma and anxiety around food.
The role of a dietitian is to provide individualized meal plans for nutrition rehabilitation and weight restoration or stabilization and create planned integration of avoided foods, while treating any nutrition-related symptoms that arise.
Speech, occupational therapy, and family therapy specialists may also be included in the team as needed.
Most individuals can be treated at home, but in cases of significant malnutrition or other significant medical concerns, more intensive treatment may be indicated.
Is NourishRX a good fit?
The simple answer - yes! At NourishRX, our Registered Dietitians approach each client with compassion and a personalized approach. We meet you where you are at and listen to your specific eating concerns and goals. Working together, we go through the process of gradually expanding your preferred foods through food exposures, meal planning and family sessions as needed. Over time, with wraparound support, we can decrease food anxiety and help eating become enjoyable.
Interested in Working with an Online Nutritionist in Massachusetts?
At NourishRx, we understand that finding the right treatment for an eating disorder can be overwhelming. We are here to provide the right support, nutrition education, and guidance you need to reach your goals. If you're concerned about how to take a step forward with your eating disorder recovery, please don't hesitate to reach out. We offer virtual nutrition counseling for those in Massachusetts and beyond. If you're interested in working with us:
Other Nutrition Services Offered at NourishRx
At NourishRx, we offer a variety of nutrition counseling services tailored to fit your individual needs. Our team of registered dietitians knows that no two individuals have the same nutritional needs and that each person's journey to recovery is unique. This is why we offer Nutrition Counseling, Intuitive Eating Support, Support for Parents and Caregivers, and Meal Planning. If you are wanting more information we also offer a Questions and Clarity Call to answer any questions you may have before taking the next step in your journey. No matter what your nutritional needs are, our team is here to help.
Reference: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder by Jennifer J. Thomas and Kamryn Eddy