What is ARFID?

 

This article will delve into the triggering topic of eating disorders. If you or a loved one are affected by an eating disorder, or you feel affected by anything you have read here today, you can reach out to BEAT for support and further information or contact your doctor.

 

Eating disorders affect around 7% of UK adults and around 25% of sufferers are male. You are more likely to develop an eating disorder if you have watched a relative suffer from one or have had body image and self-esteem issues in the past.

 

A common misconception is that only teens and young adults can develop one, and that is not the case. Statistics show that the age range most likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder is between 16-60.

 

They can occur at any age and be triggered by multiple factors. There are three commonly known eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. However, in the last few years, another type of eating disorder was named “ARFID”.

 

So, what is ARFID? It stands for Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and put simply, means that you avoid certain foods and restrict the amount of food you eat. Sufferers will usually have around 8-10 ‘safe foods’ and avoid all others.

 

The disorder is most prevalent in children, but recently more and more adults have been diagnosed and treated for it. One way the disorder can develop is after a traumatic event, such as choking, vomiting, or feeling intense pain after eating.

 

The fear of these things happening again causes the sufferer to limit and avoid anything that has the potential to set them off. This causes weight loss, malnutrition, poor mental health, tiredness, and a host of other physical symptoms.

 

Other signs of ARFID include a disinterest in food, a dislike for certain textures causing aversion, and is not linked to any desire to lose weight.

 

The treatment for ARFID varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the diagnosis. Sometimes, traditional CBT therapy may be enough to encourage them to try new foods and have bigger portions. Other times, more intense therapy and nutritional support are needed.

 

It is not something to be ashamed of, so if you feel you may have some characteristics that match the signs, speak to your doctor and take the first steps toward recovery!

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