Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is often dismissed as ‘picky eating’ and may go undiagnosed for a while until there is a negative impact on health.  The negative impacts of ARFID can be detrimental as not consuming enough energy and nutrients can inhibit growth and development in children and adults are unable to sustain basic body function. It is different from other eating disorders such as anorexia because people living with ARFID do not worry much about their body weight or how they look but have issues with the food itself.

Red flags of ARFID can vary but some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Dramatic weight loss and/or nutritional deficiencies
  • Excessive limited intake of certain types, textures or quantity of food eaten as well as consistent loss of appetite
  • Unknown cause to frequent vague gastrointestinal issues e.g., upset stomach, nausea in the morning or before/after meals
  • Fears of choking or vomiting
  • Food intake becomes progressively limited with time and there is a great dependence of oral nutritional supplements
How our dietitians help with ARFID:
  • Providing a safe, non-judgemental space to talk openly and share your concerns/fears/anxiety about food and eating to achieve a positive relationship with food and eating
  • Education on ARFID including neurobiology, interplay with neurodivergence such as ASD, and clarifying common misconceptions
  • Education on the role of nutrition restoration on physical, social, and emotional wellbeing 
  • Providing specific guidance on gold-standard GP medical monitoring to ensure medical safety and minimise risk, including frequency of monitoring
  • Providing nutrition therapy to achieve or maintain medical stability, reverse malnutrition, prevent refeeding syndrome, restore menstruation (if relevant) and resume growth and normal development if a child or adolescent
  • Creating personalised staged meal plans for renourishment and in FBT-AR, empowering caregivers to play an active role in refeeding and normalising eating behaviours
  • Reducing distress around food, including thoughts, emotions, and distressing digestive symptoms such as nausea, bloating, pain, early fullness, constipation or diarrhoea
  • Providing guidance on vitamin and mineral supplementation to correct deficiencies
  • Taste testing of medical nutrition supplement drinks and scripts to purchase them at a reduced price
  • Providing in-session meal support with the help of our Dietwise dogs Ella, Eddie and Reggie
  • Increasing regularity of meals as well as adequacy and variety of foods eaten
  • Educating on food shopping, food selection, preparation, and serving

Learn more about how our dietitians support your recovery

We believe recovery from ARFID is possible and we will work closely with your treatment team. Our Dietitians use evidence-based treatment approaches such as: enhanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-Enhanced (CBT-E), Family Based Treatment (FBT) and the principles of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

Learn more about warning signs and health impacts of ARFID.

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Level 2, 448 Fitzgerald St, North Perth WA 6006