Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is typically described as extremely picky eating. Individuals who suffer with ARFID often have difficulty consuming a sufficient caloric intake, which can compromise their overall health and well-being. ARFID is characterized by a lack of interest in eating, an increased sensitivity and selectivity about food, and a poor appetite. There are also often fears about negative consequences of eating. Common fears include choking, vomiting, or having an allergic reaction. ARFID is most common in children and young adolescents. However, it can occur in late adolescence and adulthood as well.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be helpful in treating those with ARFID. A primary intervention is exposure therapy. Exposure helps individuals tolerate eating anxiety-provoking foods, expand the variety of foods consumed, and learn how to manage anxiety around new foods. Therapy also focuses on changing the thinking patterns that underlie limited eating. These interventions can reduce the anxiety around food and the process of eating and reduce the avoidant and restrictive behaviors associated with ARFID.