Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
|Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder|
|Classification and external resources|
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), previously known as selective eating disorder (SED), is a type of eating disorder, as well as feeding disorder, where the consumption of certain foods is limited based on the food's appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation, or a past negative experience with the food.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) renamed "Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood" to Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, and broadened the diagnostic criteria. Previously defined as a disorder exclusive to children and adolescents, the DSM-5 broadened the disorder to include adults who limit their eating and are affected by related physiological or psychological problems, but who do not fall under the definition of another eating disorder.
The DSM-5 defines the following diagnostic criteria:
- Disturbance in eating or feeding, as evidenced by one or more of:
- Disturbance not due to unavailability of food, or to observation of cultural norms
- Disturbance not due to anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and no evidence of disturbance in experience of body shape or weight
- Disturbance not better explained by another medical condition or mental disorder, or when occurring concurrently with another condition, the disturbance exceeds what is normally caused by that condition
In previous years, the DSM was not inclusive in recognizing all of the challenges associated with feeding and eating disorders in 3 main domains:
- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) was an all-inclusive, placeholder group for all individuals that presented challenges with feeding
- The category of Feeding Disorder of Infancy/ Early Childhood was noted to be too broad, limiting specification when treating these behaviors
- There are children and youth who present feeding challenges but do not fit within any existing categories to date
Children are often picky eaters, this does not necessarily mean they meet the criteria for an ARFID diagnosis. In addition, self-identification as having ARFID may contribute to ARFID.
Signs and symptoms
Sufferers of ARFID have an inability to eat certain foods. "Safe" foods may be limited to certain food types and even specific brands. In some cases, afflicted individuals will exclude whole food groups, such as fruits or vegetables. Sometimes excluded foods can be refused based on color. Some may only like very hot or very cold foods, very crunchy or hard-to-chew foods, or very soft foods, or avoid sauces.
Most sufferers of ARFID will still maintain a healthy or normal body weight. There are no specific outward appearances associated with ARFID. Sufferers can experience physical gastrointestinal reactions to adverse foods such as retching, vomiting or gagging. Some studies have identified symptoms of social avoidance due to their eating habits. Most, however, would change their eating habits if they could.
The determination of the cause of ARFID has been difficult due to the lack of diagnostic criteria and concrete definition. However, many have proposed other mental disorders that are comorbid with ARFID.
There are different kinds of 'sub-categories' identified for ARFID:
- Sensory-based avoidance, where the individual refuses food intake based on smell, texture, color, brand, presentation
- A lack of interest in consuming the food, or tolerating it nearby
- Food being associated with fear-evoking stimuli that have developed through a learned history
ARFID and autism
Symptoms of ARFID are usually found with symptoms of other disorders. Some form of feeding disorder is found in 80% of children that also have a developmental disability. Children often exhibit symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. Although many people with ARFID have symptoms of these disorders, they usually do not qualify for a full diagnosis. Strict behavior patterns and difficulty adjusting to new things are common symptoms in patients that are on the autistic spectrum. A study done by Schreck at Pennsylvania State University compared the eating habits of children with ASD and typically developing children. After analyzing their eating patterns, they suggested that the children with some degree of ASD have a higher degree of selective eating. These children were found to have similar patterns of selective eating and favored more energy dense foods such as nuts and whole grains. Eating a diet of energy dense foods could put these children at a greater risk for health problems such as obesity and other chronic diseases due to the high fat and low fiber content of energy dense foods. Due to the tie to ASD, children are less likely to outgrow their selective eating behaviors and most likely should meet with a clinician to address their eating issues.
ARFID as an anxiety disorder
Specific food avoidances could be caused by food phobias that cause great anxiety when a person is presented with new or feared foods. Most eating disorders are related to a fear of gaining weight. Those who suffer from ARFID do not have this fear, but the psychological symptoms and anxiety created is similar.  Some sufferers of ARFID have fears such as Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) or a fear of choking.
Clinicians will often follow a diagnostic checklist to test whether or not an individual is exhibiting behaviors and characteristics that may lead to a diagnosis of ARFID. Clinicians will look at the variety of foods an individual consumes, as well as the portion size of accepted foods. They will also question how long the avoidance or refusal of particular foods has lasted, and if there are any associated medical concerns, such as malnutrition. Unlike most eating disorders, there may be a higher rate of ARFID in young boys, than there is in young girls. 
With time the symptoms of ARFID can lessen and can eventually disappear without treatment. However, in some cases treatment will be needed as the symptoms persist into adulthood. The most common type of treatment for ARFID is some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Working with a clinician can help to change behaviors more quickly than symptoms may typically disappear without treatment. Also hypnotherapy may be used. In that it lessens the anxiety associated with food.
There are support groups for adults with ARFID.
- In the record stage, children are encouraged to keep a log of their typical eating behaviors without attempting to change their habits as well as their cognitive feelings.
- The reward stage involves systematic desensitization. Children create a list of foods that they might like to try eating some day. These foods may not be drastically different from their normal diet, but perhaps a familiar food prepared in a different way. Because the goal is for the children to try new foods, children are rewarded when they sample new foods.
- The relaxation stage is most important for those children that suffer severe anxiety when presented with unfavorable foods. Children learn to relax to reduce the anxiety that they feel. Children work through a list of anxiety-producing stimuli and can create a story line with relaxing imagery and scenarios. Often these stories can also include the introduction of new foods with the help of a real person or fantasy person. Children then listen to this story before eating new foods as a way to imagine themselves participating in an expanded variety of foods while relaxed.
- The final stage, review, is important to keep track of the child's progress. It is important to include both one-on-one sessions with the child, as well as with the parent in order to get a clear picture of how the child is progressing and if the relaxation techniques are working.
- Fisher, Martin M.; Rosen, David S.; Ornstein, Rollyn M.; Mammel, Kathleen A.; Katzman, Debra K.; Rome, Ellen S.; Callahan, S. Todd; Malizio, Joan; Kearney, Sarah (2014-07-01). "Characteristics of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder in Children and Adolescents: A "New Disorder" in DSM-5". Journal of Adolescent Health. 55 (1): 49–52. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.11.013.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2013-10-23.
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- Schreck KA, Williams K, Smith AF. A comparison of eating behaviors between children with and without Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities. 2004; 34: 433-438.
- Evans, E. (2013). Selective Eating and Autism Spectrum Disorder. In Behavioral Health Nutrition. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
- "Eating Disorder Statistics • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders". National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
- Wang, S. (2010, July 5). No Age Limit on Picky Eating. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704699604575343130457388718
This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (September 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt
- Overview Of Adolescent Picky Eating and Other Feeding Disorders, by the Association of Pediatric Food Refusal
- Other "Eating Disorders", by Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association
- Welcome to the Eating Disorders Team, UCL Institute of Child Health
- "Cognitive Therapist Daniel Mattila on Picky Eating", radio interview