Eating disorders come in many forms but they have one thing in common. Those that do not have them and those who do not have a member of their family suffering from do not understand it and therefore think that it is just a type of picky eating. In reality, it is a real medical condition and a disorder that can really cause troubles for those suffering from it. Perhaps none other is as troublesome as ARFID, short for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.
Although not as common nor (in)famous as bulimia and anorexia, it is a disorder that plagues millions and it is very common in children. They can be just as dangerous especially because they limit the vitamins and nutrients children need to grow and develop. Weight is directly impacted and then everything else the child needs from food including energy and focus for daily tasks. Different diet solutions have to exist is someone is to rid themselves of this disorder, and in this article we talk about exactly what it is and why it is hardly just picky eating. To find out more on the issue, we advise you to check out clementineprograms.com.
What is It?
A person suffering from ARFID has extreme levels of anxiety and discomfort regarding certain textures, smells, colors, or types of food. Most of them only have around ten or so foods they consider safe for eating, and even those have to be prepared in a certain way to avoid the triggers. Some of the fears involve worrying about choking or vomiting after consumption of certain food, or not being able to get the disgusting taste out of the mouth. Most of the fears actually have no basis in reality and they do not cause any physical responses on their own. It is all in their head which is why it is actually a form of irrational fear that is extremely hard to overcome and cure.
What is more, since it mostly develops in children in teens, it can lead to other types of stress and depression symptoms. Since they hate certain foods and meals so much, they start fearing of certain events and occasions where they suspect a certain type of food will be present. They literally fear that they will be served one of the danger foods and opt not to go and socialize to prevent it. Menus in certain restaurants are not suitable, which is why friends and family cannot never go there in their company. ARFID is therefore troublesome for the loved ones of the person experiencing it too.
Things to Remember
When thinking about this disorder, it is important to remember that the patients are not at all concerned with their body image or weight loss. These have nothing to do with the seemingly picky way they eat. They would actually like nothing more than to try all the food in the world and really determine what they love or hate, for real reasons like the actual taste and ingredients. It is not a self-imposed diet nor a set of strict rules and restrictions to achieve some goal. It is a real medical condition that they would be far better off without.
ARFID occurs equally in men and women, but it is arguably men who have it slightly worse because they generally require more food to fulfil the needs of their metabolisms. While we already mentioned that it occurs in children and adolescents more, adults can be affected too and not just those who never got rid of them while growing up. If left unchecked, a child with ARFID will probably have life-long consequences like low energy levels, weak muscles and bones, and general malnutrition, all due to the improper intake of the right nutrients, supplements, and vitamins throughout their lives.
Other Conditions Follow
Apart from the food disorder itself, it comes with a whole range of other issues that generally have to deal with the way we eat and feel on their own. Mood swings, anxiety, stress, depression, and even autism are all possible.
Whenever there is a medical condition that affects a child’s appetite, it is extremely dangerous for numerous reasons and can go way beyond the symptoms and lifelong consequences of ARFID itself. It greatly depends on the person what foods they find appalling and how quickly they can overcome it, if at all, but most patients who continue to experience ARFID for years have at least a few other health issues.
Early Warning Signs
When it comes to identifying the disorder, you should pay attention to a certain group of warning signs and symptoms. Psychological signs can include but are not limited to vomiting and choking fears, worsening picky eating, lack of appetite, excitement, and interest in food, avoidance of particular types of food (especially with a pattern), feeling full without actually eating particularly around mealtimes.
On the physical side, warning signs include intolerance to cold, stomach cramps and the rest of gastrointestinal issues, concentration and sleep problems, menstrual irregularities in women, sudden increase in fatigue, fainting, and dizziness. Apart from all of these, if you or a loved one start feeling slower, unenergetic, and generally down, think about how much food you have been taking recently and pay attention to your eating patterns to identify possible disorders.
Treatment Exists and It Works
Worry not, as there is quite an effective treatment for ARFID. It can be rough especially at the beginning, but without it you will have a much harder life. The most common and useful method of treatment involves cognitive behavioral therapy.
It includes focusing on the exposure and the prevention of an undesired response, and we must say that it usually works wonders in no time. It has helped numerous patients already as all that it really does is teach them the right skills for coping and managing their disorder that eventually leads to a long-term recovery. Although they may never be able to eat a few certain foods, they will have a normal life once they know how to consume everything their body needs in order to function at optimal levels.