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|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:
In previous years, the DSM was not inclusive in recognizing all of the challenges associated with feeding and eating disorders in 3 main domains:
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 the condition.
People with ARFID have an inability to eat certain foods. "Safe" foods may be limited to certain food types and even specific brands. In some cases, individuals with the condition 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 people with ARFID will still maintain a healthy or typical 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 conditions that co-occur with ARFID.
There are different kinds of 'sub-categories' identified for ARFID:
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.
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 have ARFID do not have this fear, but the psychological symptoms and anxiety created is similar. Some people with ARFID have fears such as Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) or a fear of choking, but this is not common.
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.
There are support groups for adults with ARFID.