Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, commonly known as ARFID, is an eating disorder that is frequently overlooked. When a person experiences ARFID and is left undiagnosed, the persistent challenges with eating can lead to serious concerns to a person’s physical and mental health.
A person with ARFID will avoid or restrict food due to one or more of the following reasons:
Sensory Food Aversion – the person will have a heightened sensitivity to sensory aspects of food such as texture, taste, or smell and so will have a very restricted range of foods.
Lack of interest in eating – this person may have a low appetite, get full very quickly, and sometimes even describe the task of eating as a chore.
Fear of aversive consequences – the person may have anxiety or a phobia that when they eat, they will vomit or choke, have an allergic reaction, or severe abdominal pain
At Myrtle Oak Clinic we have clinicians who are specifically trained in supporting someone with ARFID.
One treatment model we offer focuses on a combination of techniques aimed at addressing both weight gain (if necessary) and normalisation of eating and additional symptoms such as fear, disgust, worry, or obsessive thoughts. This treatment, known as FBT-UP combines what we know about a family’s role in treatment with learning how to recognise and manage strong emotions.
What does this treatment involve?
This treatment starts with setting up the family as a supportive network to allow for change to be achieved at home via collaborative engagement between the family and the client, separating the ARFID from the client, and promoting weight gain as necessary through increased adequacy of food.
The model then moves on to learning to recognise and manage strong emotions. Emotions and eating are inherently linked and someone with ARFID will often experience a variety of emotions when confronted with food.
Throughout this treatment, clients learn to:
- Break down their emotions and how these impact our decision-making process
- Recognise how emotions present physically in their body, what concurrent thoughts they have, and what behaviours they engage in when feeling a certain emotion.
- Develop an awareness of their emotions when they are presented with a food/meal that their ARFID will not let them eat.
Having an understanding on how to recognise and manage these strong emotions can support a person to challenge their ARFID restrictions and work toward introducing a variety of food into their diet.
Do I need to have a diagnosis to seek support?
You do not need a referral or diagnosis. If any of the above points resonated with you, reach out to our clinic.
To find out more, contact our clinic on (02) 4362 3443