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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Lott

So what on earth is ARFID?

World Eating Disorders Awareness Week

woman looking unhappily at bowl of salad

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Eating disorders come in many varieties and many shapes and sizes, and there are often variables that do not fit in with diagnoses. So we have ARFID.

ARFID is essentially a gap-filler. It's used for those that do not fit anorexia or bulimia but still struggle to reach/ maintain an adequate weight, and are malnourished.

The established criteria for diagnosing ARFID is as follows:

A. An eating or feeding disturbance (e.g., apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance 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:

  • Significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children).

  • Significant nutritional deficiency.

  • Dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements.

  • Marked interference with psychosocial functioning.

  • The disturbance is not better explained by lack of available food or by an associated culturally sanctioned practice.

C. The eating disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and there is no evidence of a disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced.

D. The eating disturbance is not attributable to a concurrent medical condition or not better explained by another mental disorder. When the eating disturbance occurs in the context of another condition or disorder, the severity of the eating disturbance exceeds that routinely associated with the condition or disorder and warrants additional clinical attention.

One of the main differences here is that individuals with ARFID are not afraid of eating or of weight gain and they do not suffer a distorted body image.

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