Eating disorder ARFID is gaining new attention

(NewsNation) — It’s one thing for your child to be a picky eater, but it’s another to refuse to eat foods because of their smell, texture, color or strangeness. And that can lead to serious physical problems.

This disorder, which was discovered relatively recently, is called avoidant or restrictive eating disorder (ARED). Some health professionals may also call it “selective eating disorder.” Unlike other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, it is not a mental problem associated with a negative self-image.

Nurse Stephanie Harris (left) removes the heart monitor from patient Dante Rana at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders Denver Health. Dante is recovering from avoidant/restrictive eating disorder (ARFID). (Photo by Michael Reaves/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The ARFID has just been added to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 2013. Health professionals use the manual to diagnose mental disorders.

Children with ARFID fall into three general categories:

  • Very selective eaters who have strong negative reactions to foods with certain smells, textures or colors. They may also suffer from “neophobia”, which is a fear of unfamiliar foods.
  • A general lack of interest in food, poor appetite, or little sense of reward from eating.
  • Fear of what might happen when they eat, such as pain, choking or vomiting.

The main problem arising from ARFID is poor nutrition, which can lead to many different problems such as poor growth, delayed puberty, and the possible need to take nutritional supplements or even use a feeding tube.

Other complications may include low blood pressure, slow pulse, dehydration, weakening of bones and muscles, and stopping of periods.

Experts are generally stumped as to the cause. Some believe it is a combination of the child’s temperament, genes, and perhaps a triggering event such as choking.

Treatment can take several forms, including involvement with a doctor, dietitian, and therapist who specializes in eating disorders. The goal is to get the child to eat enough to gain weight, increase the variety of foods, and learn to eat without fear of pain or choking.

Doctors advise parents to be role models when it comes to nutrition. This means expanding the range of foods offered to adults. Another important tip: plan meals and snacks at regular intervals, including regular family meals.

They should also encourage children to try new foods, but not force them. Reward positive eating behaviors. Find ways to manage anxiety and stress, such as yoga, music, and meditation. And most importantly, stay calm and don’t criticize a child for eating problems.

Although this condition is more common in children, it can also occur in adults. At this time, doctors say there is no known way to prevent it. But experts say ARFID will not go away without treatment and it is not a condition that will resolve overnight.

Information from the Cleveland Clinic and Nemours Kids Health contributed to this article.

News Source :
Gn Health

Back to top button