It is categorised as an eating disorder, but is different from the eating disorders you may already be aware of, as there is no body dysmorphia and no desire to control weight.
In someone presenting with ARFID you may see any of the following:
- Eating less than 20 different foods
- Lack of appetite and would rather not eat
- Takes a long time over eating meals
- Only eating certain textures of food
- Anxious before and during mealtimes (not afterwards)
- Sudden refusal to eat foods
- Extreme fear of new foods
- Gagging/vomiting at the sight of food
- Avoidance of eating socially
- Expresses fear of eating…fear of choking or vomiting or worries that the food may make them ill
- Will only eat certain foods, or certain brands of food
- Foods are refused due to texture/feel/smell
It can affect a person at any age; babies, toddlers, children or adults. It can be diagnosed in children from the age of 2.
The exact causes of ARFID are unknown, but it is thought to be due to sensory sensitivity, a fear of negative consequences of eating (vomiting/choking etc) or lack of interest in food.
If you have any of these presentations yourself, or you are worried about someone you know, talk to your GP. There is also a great website with lots more information www.ARFIDawarenessUk.org