10 Warning Signs and Symptoms of ARFID

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There are many diseases out there that are more famous, or should we say infamous, than it is ARFID. But Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder can be detrimental to a person’s health, and no one should underestimate it. You may know this particular sickness as “Selective Eating Disorder” since that is how it used to be known. In many of its symptoms, it is comparable to anorexia, but there are some differences. With anorexia, there is a worry about the body shape and size of the body. Many young kids go through different stages of growing up, and it is not uncommon for them to be quite picky in what they want to eat.

A characteristic of someone with ARFID is that they do not consume enough calories to fulfill all of their biological functions. If you are interested in learning more about ARFID, particularly about what kind of therapies we use to treat it, you can always read more about this topic on rosewoodranch.com. But before it comes time for actual medicine, let us try to determine what are the ten most important symptoms and warnings of ARFID.

1. Extreme pickiness in choosing food

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Now everyone has some type of food that they don’t like eating. That is perfectly normal, just like having food you especially enjoy. We are not here to talk about that. With ARFID, we are talking about the pickiness of extreme proportion. If you refuse to eat one meal, but you find something else to eat, and at the end of the day, you had your fair share of calories, that is not ARFID. What is a characteristic of this disease is pickiness that eats to malnourishment and anxiety about food.

2. Actual anxiety when confronted with foods you fear

For someone that doesn’t have ARFID, this symptom might seem strange, even impossible. But that might make it the best symptom to catch this ailment in someone. So if you see that a person is extremely nervous around that food, they refuse to eat. And they even get physical responses to being in the presence of their “nemesis.” There is a good chance that they suffer from ARFID.

3. Adults lose weight, children can’t gain weight

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Naturally, this sickness manifests differently in adults and children. A grown person will start losing weight, but not in a good way. We are not talking about an overweight person going on a diet and avoiding sugar. No, we are talking about someone avoiding food even if it is healthy and losing weight until they are suffering from malnutrition. Adults can get their weight back, but for children, ARFID is much more dangerous. If they endure this disease while they are young and growing, they might have permanent confidence in their physique and health.

4. Depending too much on nutritional supplements

They might try to replace valuable ingredients from food with nutritional supplements. That is a good clue to identify someone experiencing ARFID. Generally, there is nothing wrong with consuming supplements. However, no amount of supplements can make it up for lack of a good diet. Taking too many supplements on an already empty stomach might just cause an additional problem, causing already sick individuals even more difficulties.

5. Vomiting or gaging after being exposed to the food they can’t stand

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Not a normal reaction you expect when someone is exposed to, let us say, salt or sugar. Someone suffering from ARFID might have a real live physical reaction to just smelling the food they fear. So if you see someone gaging for smelling chicken or vomiting cause salt is white, and they don’t eat white food. You are most likely dealing with a person with this infliction.

6. Difficulties with chewing

Maybe you noticed, but a strong aversion to food is a strong symptom and warning of ARFID. If a person is chewing food for an extremely long time, that might be a good indicator. Again, we are not talking about people that eat slowly. When we say slow chewing, we are talking about a time-consuming activity that interjects with the normal life of this individual.

7. They can’t digest some food

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You are what you eat. That is a saying for a reason. And after a while of this lifestyle, ARFID will affect the metabolism itself. Predicaments might be psychosomatic in nature, or the answer might be more complicated. The result will be the same, and even more, difficulties could occur for a person in question that interferes with their daily life.

8. Lack of appetite

Possibly, one of the most obvious symptoms. But one that is most common in ARFID. Since this trait is quite common in many individuals today, it is not in itself evidence of avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. However, it will always be present in individuals afflicted, and so it deserves to be mentioned.

9. They will eat extremely small portions

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This symptom perfectly aligns with the rest of them. But it is a good way to notice someone with this disorder. Everyone eats a smaller portion of a meal from time to time. Usually, that is because we had a larger meal previously to that. But with ARFID, we are talking about continuously having tiny portions of food, which follows the lack of appetite, slow metabolism, pickiness, and the rest of the problems.

10. Avoiding food with no actual reason

The reasons they might give for not eating a particular food will have no logic to other people. As an example, they could avoid eating apples simply because they are not a fan of the red color, don’t eat fruits, or have a dislike for the company with the same name. Texture, colors, taste, smell, food groups, all of these are reasons why they might avoid to eat something.


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As we saw, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder can be quite a serious disease. Luckily, it is not so hard to spot it and react on time. We hope we help you learn more about this distinct condition and that now you can recognize it in time in people around you.