What is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder?

Symptoms of this eating disorder typically show up in infancy or childhood. A child may avoid foods with certain textures or colours, or a traumatic experience involving food, such as becoming physically ill after food consumption, may result in a fear of eating. 

ARFID does not include experiences of body dissatisfaction or disturbances in the way body weight or shape are perceived. However, if left untreated, it can develop into anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa later in adolescence or adulthood.

Signs and symptoms of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

  • Weight loss, or a lack of appropriate weight gain in children
  • Non-specific gastrointestinal complaints
  • Anaemia or other nutrient deficiencies
  • Anxiety about eating specific types of food, or unfamiliar foods
  • Food rituals
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or groups of food

If you have concerns about avoidant or restrictive eating patterns – either your own or your child's or loved one's – these screening tools can help identify whether these patterns indicate the possible presence of ARFID. Note:  these are not diagnostic tools and not substitutes for a professional evaluation. 

Short ARFID Screen - Self Version

Short ARFID Screen - Parent/Carer Version

Diagnosis criteria for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Through this eating disorder, the body’s requirements for nutrition and energy are consistently not being met. This manifests in one or more of the following:

a. Significant weight loss (or not achieving expected weight gain in children), or
b. Significant nutritional deficiency leading to suboptimal development, or
c. Dependence on nutritional supplements, or
d. Marked interference with psychosocial, and potentially physical, functioning

Note: a diagnosis of ARFID requires that the inadequate food intake is not better explained by limited access to food or by a medical condition

Download NEDIC's Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Explained pamphlet (PDF)

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness characterised by behaviours that interfere with maintaining an adequate weight. 

Biological, social, genetic, and psychological factors play a role in increasing the risk of its onset.

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Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a mental illness characterised by periods of food restriction followed by binge eating, with recurrent compensating behaviours to “purge” the body of the food.

Biological, social, genetic, and psychological factors play a role in increasing the risk of its onset.

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Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) involves limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness. 

ARFID is a mental illness which can severely compromise growth, development, and health. 

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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness that can seriously affect psychological and physical health. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food then experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards.

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Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders refers to atypical presentations of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, among other eating disorders. 

These eating disorders are equally serious and as potentially life-threatening as the more typical presentations. 

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Other Eating Disorders

Including pica, rumination disorder and unspecified feeding or eating disorder

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