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What is ARFID? ARFID is an eating or feeding disturbance that is characterized by a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs. It is the second most common eating disorder in children 12 years and younger but unfortunately largely under diagnosed: 63% of pediatricians are unfamiliar with this diagnosis.
It describes individuals whose symptoms do not match the criteria for traditional eating disorder diagnoses (no fear of weight gain), but who experience clinically significant struggles with eating and food: difficulty digesting certain foods, avoiding certain colors or textures of food, eating only very small portions or being afraid to eat to the extent that they are not getting enough to eat and/or become impaired psycho-socially.
ARFID is more than just “picky eating”; children do not grow out of it and often become malnourished because of the limited variety of foods they will eat.
Who gets it?
What causes it?
Like other eating disturbances, there is no singular cause of ARFID. However, the evolving scientific literature suggests that this pattern of disordered eating develops from a complex interplay between genetic, psychological and sociocultural factors. A majority of children’s ARFID symptoms have been triggered by a trauma: chocking, food poisoning and vomiting.
What are the symptoms?
1. Based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating) as manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one (or more) of the following:
1. The disturbance is not better explained by lack of available food or by an associated culturally sanctioned practice.
It’s also important to understand what ARFID is not. It is not:
How is it treated?
The health risks and developmental consequences for children and adolescents with ARFID can be serious and long lasting. As a further complication, ARFID is difficult to accurately diagnose. Assessment by a clinical professional trained in the disorder is essential. ACPN offers specialized treatment for children, adolescents and adults struggling with ARFID.
At ACPN, treatment for ARFID begins with a comprehensive assessment to determine the type and other core issues, including medical stabilization, psychiatric stabilization, nutritional rehabilitation and weight restoration (when appropriate).
A key component of ARFID treatment at ACPN is education of patients and parents about the diagnosis, interventions, treatment expectations and treatment goals. ACPN brings expertise in all specialty areas and a multidisciplinary treatment team alignment: GP, psychotherapist, nutritionist, psychiatrist, occupational therapist and speech therapist.
Our trained team uses principles of psycho-education, nutritional therapy, Motivational-Interviewing (MI), Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Family-Based Therapy (FBT) to provide a comprehensive treatment.
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