Overcoming Disorder Eating with Effective Treatment Options
You may have heard of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) before, but even if you or some you love has been diagnosed, the condition can be confusing. ARFID is an eating disorder that affects people of all ages and genders.
ARFID can be a debilitating condition if not treated properly and can lead to poor nutrition, lack of energy, and even affect mood and happiness.
Read on to find out all about ARFID in adults, including ARFID symptoms and how to get help with the effective programs for eating disorder treatment offered at Icarus in NM.
What is ARFID?
So, what exactly is ARFID? Well, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, ARFID is a serious eating disorder in which a person drastically limits their food intake, and is often unable to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs. The effects of this condition go well beyond those who avoid eating for dietary reasons or to reduce body weight.
This can be due to avoidance of certain foods because of sensory issues, fear of choking, or simply lack of interest in eating. People with ARFID might not gain the necessary weight they need, or may even lose significant amounts of weight as a result of their disorder.
Is ARFID The Same As Picky Eating?
Having ARFID is not the same as being a picky eater. A person with ARFID will have an extreme fear associated with eating, and this fear may be so strong that they are unable to eat even familiar foods or foods of certain textures or colors. This can make it very difficult for them to gain nutrients from their food, leading to possible malnutrition and other health issues.
People with ARFID may also show obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms and other mental health problems alongside their disordered eating.
Someone who does picky eating, on the other hand, might have more of a playful attitude toward food. They may be more likely to try new foods or flavors because they are curious about them. While they may not like everything they eat, it is unlikely that a picky eater will have extreme fear or anxiety associated with eating.
ARFID is not something that can be “cured” by simply encouraging a person to eat different foods, as may be the case with those who engage in ‘picky eating’ and are known as ‘picky eaters.’ It is a legitimate eating disorder like anorexia nervosa and requires professional help and treatment in order to make progress toward recovery. If you or someone you love shows symptoms, our informal ARFID assessment resource can help you determine the next best steps to take.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of ARFID In Adults?
ARFID is a selective eating disorder characterized by a number of signs and symptoms, including but not limited to:
Difficulty Eating Certain Types Of Food
People with ARFID often have difficulty eating a variety of foods, or may even avoid certain types of food altogether due to food fears. This can be due to sensory issues such as texture, smell, taste, or color. People with ARFID may also experience strong feelings of fear or anxiety when they eat certain foods, which can further inhibit their ability to eat an adequate amount of food.
In some cases, a person with ARFID may have such extremely disordered eating that they become unable to consume even small amounts of certain foods due to extreme fear or aversion. This can make it difficult for them to get adequate nutrition, leading to other health-related issues such as vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, significant weight loss, and more.
Our informal eating disorder test can help you or your loved one determine whether certain warning signs may be present, and help you to determine the best course of action. Our dedicated staff are also available by phone at any time, to answer questions and conduct a more formal assessment.
Inability To Eat a Certain Amount Of Food
Another common ARFID symptom is an inability to eat a sufficient amount of food. People with this disorder may have difficulty eating large meals or consuming enough calories throughout the day. These inflexible eating behaviors and food aversion can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and even organ failure if left untreated.
Those with ARFID must be monitored closely so that their health does not become severely impacted by their condition.
Treating Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Effectively
Treating Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder can be challenging, but there are a variety of strategies and treatments available to help people manage their disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used forms of therapy for treating Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.
This type of therapy helps people identify and challenge the thoughts and patterns of behavior that are preventing them from eating a healthy, balanced diet. CBT can also help people learn to cope with their anxiety and fear surrounding certain foods, as well as develop better coping strategies for managing their disorder.
Medications Used for ARFID Eating Disorder Treatment
In some cases, it may be helpful to supplement therapy with medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of ARFID, as well as decreasing anxiety and depression associated with the disorder.
This is not always the case, however, and is determined on an individual basis.
Counseling or Therapy for ARFID
Another treatment option is nutritional counseling or therapy. A nutritional counselor can help people identify foods they should be eating to meet their nutritional needs, develop a meal plan that works for them, and establish healthy eating habits. Nutritional counseling can also help people learn how to navigate social situations that involve food.
Responsive feeding therapy can help provide ways that reduce sensory sensitivity, and make adults with an ARFID diagnosis expand a limited diet and experience negative reactions to fewer foods.
Dietary Approaches for ARFID in Adults
In addition to medications and psychological treatments, there are also dietary approaches that may be useful in managing ARFID. Some of the most commonly used dietary approaches include exposure therapy, where a person gradually introduces new foods into their diet; structured meals, where people follow a predetermined meal plan; and cognitive restructuring, which helps people challenge unhealthy beliefs about food and eating.
Occupational Therapy for ARFID
Occupational therapy may also be helpful for those with ARFID. Occupational therapists can provide strategies that help people develop the skills they need to manage their disorder, such as problem-solving, communication, and self-care. They can also provide support in learning how to cook or eat in public settings.
Getting Support for ARFID as an Adult
Support from family and friends is essential in managing ARFID or any other eating disorder. Having supportive people in one’s life can make a huge difference in helping them manage their disorder and lead a happier, healthier life.
People with ARFID must have both professional and social support so they can learn to cope with their condition and take steps toward recovery.
Gastrointestinal Medication For ARFID
Gastrointestinal reflux medications may also be prescribed in some cases, depending on the severity of the disorder. These medications can help reduce symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux, which can be uncomfortable and prevent people from eating certain foods.
How Can Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Be Treated?
The program of treatment at Icarus Behavioral Health is a great place to receive help and support in managing their eating disorder for those with ARFID. Effective treatment centers, such as our offering at Icarus, typically offer comprehensive programs that include both psychological therapy and dietary approaches for treating ARFID.
If drugs or drinking have become an issue alongside ARFID or other disordered eating conditions, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment for eating disorders and substance abuse.
Talk Therapy Sessions
At our treatment center, people with ARFID and other eating disorders can participate in individual counseling sessions that are tailored to meet their specific needs. These sessions can help people identify the root causes of their disorder, learn new coping strategies for managing it, and gain insight into how to make positive changes in their lives.
Icarus also provides group therapy sessions where people can share their experiences and learn from one another.
Nutritional Counseling Services
Eating disorder treatment programs also offer nutritional counseling services to help those with ARFID and other eating disorders understand the importance of a balanced diet and make informed decisions about food.
This involves creating individualized meal plans that meet a person’s nutritional needs while considering their individual preferences and sensitivities.
Overall Medical Care
In addition to psychological and dietary techniques, treatment centers also provide medical care for those with ARFID and other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Our medical professionals can assess a person’s health, identify any potential deficiencies, and provide medications or supplements as needed.
The staff at Icarus also helps our clients develop the skills they need to navigate social situations involving food. This can include teaching them how to order food in restaurants or grocery stores without experiencing fear or anxiety. Aftercare planning and disordered eating ‘relapse prevention’ also offer strategies for managing stress levels related to eating and developing healthy relationships with food.
Finally, our treatment center provides comprehensive support to help people with ARFID learn how to cope with their disorder and find hope for recovery. This includes providing access to resources, helping you or your loved one to connect with other people who have similar experiences, and teaching how to ask for help when it is needed.
Treatment Goals and a Personalized Treatment Plan
The goal of treatment at Icarus Behavioral Health is not only to help people manage their Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder but also to help them live a full and healthy life without eating disturbance.
With the right treatment plan in place, personalized to you or your loved one’s needs, ARFID and other eating disorders can be overcome. Our goal is for those struggling to find lasting recovery from their symptoms and to lead happy, fulfilling lives.
Icarus Behavioral Health for ARFID And Other Eating Disorders
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we understand that ARFID is much more than picky eating. We treat ARFID the same way we treat all eating disorders, by getting to the root cause of the condition. Once this has been discovered and addressed, we find that ARFID symptoms become much more manageable.
If you would like to hear more about how we treat eating disorders like ARFID, contact us today for a confidential consultation and to get options for support!