Picky Eating Taken To The Extreme: Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

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Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is not anorexia nervosa and it isn’t orthorexia nervosa either. The eating disorder which causes people to have an extreme amount of pickiness over their food choices doesn’t include a fixation on body image, weight, or appearance. It might, however, fixate on the appearance of food itself. Young children go through avoidant and restrictive food behaviors all the time. Phases of difficult food choices frustrate parents all over the world. Children will refuse to eat things that are green, won’t eat things that have a certain texture, taste, or smell. After a few sneaky attempts at exposure therapy, children grow to like the foods they avoid and eventually incorporate them into a diet. For those with a more developed eating disorder, there is no returning foods to a diet. There is only increasing restriction, which causes complications in health and nutrition.

Eating disorders like orthorexia are dangerous because they heavily restrict what food can or cannot be eaten. While some foods are known to be unhealthy in large quantities, the body actually benefits from eating those foods in small quantities. Without the proper nutritional benefits of all food, people with ARFID can struggle with their health. Health complications can include severe weight loss as well as a difficulty gaining weight when necessary. The brain also suffers as it lacks in essential nutrients. As a whole, the body can go into a starvation mode which has a long term effect on muscles, bones, joints, organ function and more.

Long term effects of ARFID include an impact on social life as well. When ARFID develops from adolescence into teenagehood and adulthood, the inability to eat with as well as like other people becomes a problem for social interactions. First, someone with ARFID will feel they are unable to eat what everyone else is eating. Second, that could cause feelings of embarrassment or shame about their condition. Third, potential inviting criticism or comment from peers could worsen the social awkwardness. Lastly, isolating from social interactions because of food can lead to depression and anxiety.


Eating disorders don’t have to take control of your life. If you are struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, there is help available. Avalon By The Sea is a certified mental health treatment facility for providing primary mental health care. Our programs are trusted to create trustworthy results. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511


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